Chronic Disease, Invisibility and Confidence

I struggle with this.  My autoimmune disease is invisible to me. When feeling good, I deny my disease. When feeling bad, my confidence tanks because I’ve failed to feel good!  Let me try to explain what I mean, because I think other people feel this way too, sometimes.

Invisibility or Confidence?  Rock or Hard Place?

When I feel bad, I tend to treat that as a personal failing.  I try various methods to “get back on track” or “get in balance”.  After a flare, as I get better, I feel like I’m getting better – as in being cured. But when I get sick again, I blame myself for getting sick.  My own disease is invisible to me.  I have a fantastic support system and there are people who want to make my life easier, but I feel reluctant to impose. Because I don’t want to accept that I need help.turtle-thinking-300px

So this push and pull happens in my head.  Sometimes I can make a peace with my disease, and some times I feel like I have it all worked out, but then I realize that I really don’t.  The chronically chronic part wears thin.  I feel like I should be able to do all the things I used to be able to do, so each time I can’t, I lose all confidence.

The doubt, question, deny and blame myself when I’m sick.  I doubt whether I have a lasting illness when I feel good!

This got me thinking about a phenomenon I I’ve heard about called “imposter syndrome” and how it relates to the kind of self-doubt that causes me to enter this cycle yet again.  I think the feelings come from the same place.  It seems to be an inability (or a fleeting ability) to own this thing about myself, whether it is achievement or disability.  I have internal pressure to write them both off as not being authentic.

Accepting Assistance

I realize my “normal” should include acceptance, flexibility, and new plans.  And sometimes it does.  Right now, I’m giving myself a much needed break and trying to be both confident and visible.  I’m allowing my friends and family to pick up where I leave off.

What works for you to be able to welcome a normal “good enough” and leave behind the fiction of what you wish had happened?

What helps you to remember to:

  • Own your disease  
  • Cut yourself some slack  
  • Let the housework relax  
  • Say “no” and let others volunteer  
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Stay out of the sun  
  • Exercise
  • And have fun
  • Splurge on comfortable things
  • But Appreciate the life you have
  • Eat mindfully
  • Drink water
  • Listen to your body  
  • Let others help
  • And do something that matters to you 

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