Pace Myself? Sure, Just Don't Tell Me I Need To
If you are suffering from a chronic illness like MS, you may hear the phrase “remember to pace yourself” more than you’d like. It’s just one thing people can say that can be pretty grating when you hear it. I don’t know about everyone else, but I know when someone says that to me, I tend to speed things up! As unpleasant as it is to hear, the sentiment is not all that bad. Taking some time to do things our way at our own speed can be extremely helpful and make for a more rewarding life. That’s something that not only those with a chronic illness need to remember, but also those around us.
Feeling different from everyone else
No one likes the idea of having to slow down, or of feeling different from everyone else, and certainly no one wants to hold anyone up. So when someone tells us to pace ourselves, no matter how good their intentions are, it’s going to make us feel pretty crappy. It’s a huge reminder that we’re different, that something might be wrong with us. It also makes us feel like we’re a terrible burden to you. So no matter how good your sentiment is, I implore you to not say that to those with chronic illness. For the most part, we know our bodies pretty well, and if we need a reminder to slow it down, trust me, our body will let us know.
Going at our own speed
For those with a chronic illness, learning to pace ourselves a bit can be pretty helpful. It can be a huge key to adapting and making the most of our lives. No matter what our symptoms are, there is so much we can still accomplish if we simply take our time and do it our way. Going at our own speed may seem frustrating at first, but more often than not, it can be rewarding. A big key to that though, is having others understand that we may be just a little slower or do things a little bit differently to get the task done.
Little accomplishments can mean a lot
We recently had a pretty messy kitchen in my house. Dirty dishes, wrappers, ingredients not put away, a clean but full dishwasher, anything you can picture in a disaster of a kitchen, it was there. Getting it in order would be a pretty overwhelming task for someone like me, but I wanted to be the one to clean it. I know, that sounds crazy, right? But I wanted the normalcy of being able to get that task done (and yes, I know, we shouldn’t let it get that way in the first place). I convinced my roommate to let me do it. I said, like many tasks I take on, it won’t happen quickly, not even in one day, but it will get done, and I’m going to do it. While that meant the kitchen was dirty for a bit longer than anyone would have liked, my roommate relented and let me do it my way, at my pace. I’m super thankful for that, because I did get it done and it made me feel good to finish it. I know that may sound bizarre, but little accomplishments like that can mean a lot.
Advice for family and friends
Patience is so important with a chronic illness, not only for those that are suffering, but for our friends and family as well. It’s far more important to me for my friends and family to understand and respect my need to pace myself, than it is for them to remind me of it. I admit, sometimes I do need reminding that slowing down a bit can be helpful. That reminder is always better for me to rediscover on my own though, no matter how painful it might be. So friends and family, please don’t tell us to slow down, but understand if we do. Others with an illness, let’s try to remember that there is nothing wrong with going at our own pace.
Thanks for reading!
Do you live with any comorbidities aside from MS?