By Vicky (Guest Writer) –
When suffering from a chronic illness, the feeling of guilt is one you can often find yourself getting a little too used to. Although, deep down you know things are not your fault or things are not always in your control, you cannot help that guilty feeling in the pit of your stomach when you are not always one hundred percent yourself. We all have bad days and that is completely okay, but it is accepting that it is okay that is the hurdle and celebrating the positive things.
For me, personally, I used to carry a lot of guilt and I carried this guilt for a few reasons…
1. I do not like letting other people down.
I consider myself to be a fairly easy going, happy and considerate kind of person and as said in previous posts, I don’t like letting others down. Although I am lucky that a lot of my friends and family are understanding, still, knowing that you have had to let someone down and cancel on them, still hurts. Just as much as you, they had been looking forward to that coffee or that day out and knowing that you couldn’t do it today just hangs over you. Would they ever cancel on me? Would they let me down?
2. Saying “no” at the last minute.
Having to cancel on others at the last minute is something I have found most difficult. Whether that be going out for coffee, drinks, a day trip, or even a dentist or similar appointment, some days, yes we can do it, we can push ourselves. But on occasions, “no” really is the only answer. We can’t push ourselves too far, we can’t ‘just get on with it’ and although things may have been planned for a while, today maybe just isn’t the day.
3. Letting my workplace down.
Since being employed, I am extremely lucky that one, I have been able to hold down a job but also two, I have had management that have been supportive and understanding of my needs in the workplace. However, on days when I can’t manage, knowing that I have phoned in ‘sick’ last minute or knowing that I can’t manage and there are others on holiday or also off, not only fills me with guilt but it puts unwanted pressure on other people and that itself is not a nice feeling.
Feeling too lazy.
Sometimes you spend your days curled up in bed, you mope around, you have little to no energy, and you feel as though you are just wasting time. You feel sluggish, drained, have no enthusiasm to do anything, and yet you feel guilty for all of this. You feel guilty for not getting things done, for not doing that washing, or finishing that job when you see what others have been able to do with their day. But it’s okay: this is an important part of self-care.
Dragging other people to my appointments.
The first time I attended a hospital appointment, taking someone with me was fine and I thought nothing of it; it was just one appointment and a few hours out of my mum’s day. However, as time went on and I realised how regular these appointments were becoming, knowing I cannot attend most appointments on my own, makes me feel horrible. I cannot count how many hours my family have sat with me just waiting. How many trips to London they have made, how many car journeys they have sat through, how many times they have visited me in hospital, and how much work they have also missed. I know they care and I know that they want to be there but surely they have better things to do?
Carrying guilt is not good for anyone. Not only is it not a nice feeling but it adds unwanted stress to the body and doesn’t make us feel any better. Remember, you have no control over this, there is no shame in being chronically ill, and you are not to blame. It is important to make yourself and others aware that no matter what, you are trying your best. Although it may not seem enough, you are putting your all into getting through your day at a pace that is suitable for you.
Although I still spend some of my time with guilt hanging over me, I have realised that what is going on isn’t my fault. You have to celebrate and highlight what you are able to do, what you have achieved, and everything moving forward. It isn’t a case of what you can’t do, it is a case of when will you be able to do it? We often ignore all of this and focus on the negative things but the positive things are a massive deal.
I have also learnt that small goals are important. Instead of creating massive plans and coming up with goals which are unrealistic, create small achievable goals. Instead of having a long list of things to achieve in one day, spread them out or highlight the fact that you have managed to get a few of those things done rather than panic and worry that you haven’t achieved any of it. Rather than planning full days out, plan an hour or so. Head out for a coffee and if you last half an hour that’s okay, if you last longer, even better. Do as much as YOU can manage and don’t feel guilty if you can’t do anymore.
I am not saying this is it. I am not saying this will cure all of your guilt but slowly you will learn to drop the guilt. You’re doing your best. Just one step at a time.