The Guilt of Being Ill

Hi everyone,

I’m finally back again after a very long time. The past few months I have been struggling with balancing a heavy work load on top of hospital admissions and a number of chest infections. This period of my life has been intense and I’ve been the most unwell I can remember being through my CF.

Having to miss uni and spend a lot of time in bed resting, got me feeling extremely guilty about not being able to achieve the same as all those around me.

This leads on to todays’ post, where I will be dealing with the the issues of guilt when it comes to having a chronic illness.

Having CF often means there are periods of time in which I need to rest in bed, otherwise I risk pushing myself to extreme levels of pain and illness. In these times when I’m lying in bed, my head is still rushing will all the jobs and work I need to get done and I am left feeling frustrated. I get annoyed at myself as I’m not achieving anything in these periods of rest…or so I believe. Putting this into perceptive, it is obvious that resting is the most important and productive thing I can be doing in these times as its allowing me to restore and conserve my energy levels and allow my body to recover. In the long term this will allow me to achieve more as I have fully allowed myself to get better.
However, in practise this is hard and I often find myself feeling guilty and lazy for not working and, if I feel a tiny bit more energy one day I tend to use it to complete many tasks I have to do. Unsurprisingly this pushes me back down again and I spend longer having to rest in the long run. It’s a pretty viscous cycle.
The thing that’s hard for those with chronic illnesses is that these periods of low energy and a need to rest occur quiet frequently, so times when energy levels are high are generally low anyway.
So to all those with CF or other illnesses, I’m telling you that you are doing great, don’t compare yourselves to others who have no daily adversties to contend with and be proud with anything you do manage to achieve, no matter how small.  This is something I still struggle to listen to myself but it’s so important.

Another guilt I struggle with is the stress and worry my illness puts on to my family and friends. I find it so unfair that I can cause them so much worry and distress through my health and often find myself hiding the truth from them. I feel that I have to smile through the pain or pretend to be ok in order to protect them. I wish more than anything that those in my life didn’t have to suffer the stress of CF. I’m not sure on the advice I can give to people who feel this guilt, but I guess honesty is probably best and ultimately the people around you are only worrying because they care and love you. Make sure they know just how thankful and grateful you are for them and always remember that if any one of them were to become unwell you would support them in the ways they have supported you.

The final form of guilt I get from CF, is through comparing myself to other people with CF. I often find myself feeling guilty when I complain about being in pain or having to be admitted into hospital as I feel that there will be many others with CF who are more ill than me and unable to do the things I can do. This is something I’ve spoken to the psychologist at hospital about a number of times. The main piece of advice and message to take away form this is that there will always be people more unwell than us and in worse positions than us (in many way other than just illness), but there will also be many people who are in a better position than us. The psychologist always tells me that there will be people with CF who are ‘healthier’ than me, and she’s asks me wether they should then feel guilty for being better than me, and of course the answer is no. As individuals we are so hard on ourselves and its often helpful in these situations to consider what we would say to someone else who is saying the things we tell ourselves. We have so much compassion for others, so it’s time we showed this level of compassion to ourselves.

My goal for everyone who’s read this post is to show some self-love this week and be a little kinder to yourself no matter what you are going through.

Thanks for reading,

Isabelle

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