"Keeping mental stress to a minimum is so important for the chronically ill. It’s important, but often impossible. Why? Because we live in the same stressful world that healthy people live in."
One of my facebook friends has a page called Rheumatoid Arthritis Support and for some reason there was an article in my news feed today about stress and chronic illness but she had this quote written above the article which I assume she wrote. Reading this it was like a ton of bricks fell on my head. Truthfully I never thought of stress like that before. I thought about it and I thought to myself that I always felt so different than the healthy world and I could never be like the healthy world. Myself or anyone else who is chronically ill can probably associate what I am writing without having to explain it. I'm pretty sure the healthy world cannot make any sort of connection to this at all. Well, unless they may have been ill at some point in there life and can remember back to how different life was at that point in time, now imagine living that way everyday and trying to fit into the world. It's damn hard. You fake your way through. It's funny because I am sure most people look at me and think there is no way she isn't "normal." I laugh. I take care of myself. I run around to store for things when I have the energy. I try to live like the rest of the world but it isn't easy living and having to be an actor when you see people.
The stress part. Wow! This is another area I never thought about because I always thought most of my stress was from the illness, which it was/is, but now as I think back I had/have many of the same stresses most of the world has. How can that be? I don't work and I know most people wonder what in the world I could do all day at my age without a job or anything else to do for that matter. Let me tell you this is where my stress is a little different. I don't understand work stress as you do but you also do not understand my stress as a chronically ill person. Plans come and go. I stress and wonder will I have the energy to go? The amount of energy it takes to socialize is exhausting to say the least to the chronically ill. I can go somewhere and within an hour or so, depending on how many people I talk to, I am ready to leave. Tired/fatigued as I watch the rest of the room party and keep going without a clue as to what I am going through. It is horrible to say the least. The realization that I have finally come to grips without feeling guilty about leaving early is freeing and causes me much less stress. I have learned not to care anymore. I do what I can do and I am honest about the things I can't. It is a way of life for me now, for us. Rich included. This part of the stress is hardest for me because Rich is a very social person and the stress of weighing him down wears on me. He never says a thing and is always ready to do whatever he has to for me but for me it isn't fair for him. I wonder if that is a stress I will ever get over?
I have come a long way baby! I know the not caring comes with age but with chronic illness it is different. It is just as much an inside job as an outside job. The realization hit me this morning that I am doing a much better job with each passing year accepting it is what it is and it is OKAY! Man, it feels good to write that and really mean it!