So, if you are new here, I have been living with Chronic Pain and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for quite some time now, and for the most part, I’ve gotten to a good place in life with it. You probably wouldn’t even know it if you saw me out and about. I actually have quite a few behind the scenes things I have to do on a daily basis to manage my chronic pain issues that you might never see.
To be able to keep up with my job, I have to manage my energy expenditure. Ensure I get enough sleep each night. I wear braces on my arms while I sleep to help my nerves relax. I also sleep with ice packs on my shoulders (at least until they thaw), a pillow under my knees, a chiropractic pillow and if it’s a rough day, a heating pad. I also take medication for my PTSD, which is, as with any mental health medication, important to take consistently. I won’t go into a tailspin if I miss a dose, but it can sometimes throw off my moods and especially my sleep for a few days. Finally, I often use Kinesio tape, which actually is visible, but people are often surprised to learn I have nerve damage 🙂
Its all about balance
That is not the point of this post. What actually brought it up was a conversation today with a wonderful friend of mine who is going through a rough time post surgery that has made her rely heavily on friends and family. Because I also had a reasonably serious surgery in the past year, she asked how I balance trying to be independent with asking for help. Oh man.
To start with, I am very lucky to have a wonderful boyfriend who brought me ice every day, did all of the grocery shopping, laundry, and walked my dog… for 4 months. He also slept on the couch for 3 weeks post op just to make sure he didn’t jostle me until I could handle it. He kissed my forehead while he pulled the pain pump tube out of my shoulder on day 3 and I ugly sobbed, cuz it was gross. The tube removal, not the kiss, that was adorbs. You should be jelly. I digress… and apologize for the “text” lingo, it just felt appropriate.
The truth is, I really don’t like asking for help, and aside from Damir, I didn’t ask for a ton of help when I probably could and should have. I really had to think about how to strike that balance between asking for help and independence, and if I could narrow it down to anything, I would have to say… its all about forgiving yourself. When you have to rely on someone else, you often feel guilty. That you are taking their time, their energy, and that you have nothing to give back. That guilt can really weigh on you.
Ask for Help, and Forgive Yourself
But really. Sometimes you need help, and sometimes… its a LOT of help. Sometimes its a lot of help for a LONG time. But someday, maybe soon, maybe years from now… you will be in a position to help someone else. A kind word, holding the door, making a donation to a gofundme to help someone in need. Pay it forward at Starbucks, volunteer. Take care of someone you know who is in the same place you are now. Your opportunity will present itself. I am a firm believer that the world is full of flowing energy, and it is completely ok if you need to draw that energy from others for awhile. Just know it’s just for now until you can give it back, either to them or to others.
Its ok not to be “on” it at all times. Its ok to sleep for 13 hours straight if you need it. Its ok to have ask for rides for weeks or even months, have your laundry done for you, or have to call someone in your darkest moment for help. The energy will balance. Forgive yourself for now, and pass your gratitude forward.
P.S. I finished writing this last week at somewhere around midnight on a work night. The post got stuck when I tried to upload an image, and I had to refresh the browser. To my dismay, the post had vanished. I closed the browser, and my laptop, and went to bed. Defeated, I put off posting until today, when I was delighted to find this post had actually (magically) saved!!!