Thursday, November 9, 2017

When is Enough, Enough?

There often comes a point in life when you feel you must say "enough's enough". I don't entirely get the etymology of that phrase, but anyway, a phrase it is. The point being, at what point do the costs outweigh the benefits. In some cases, this is literal. In others, it's figurative. When you're living with a chronic illness, you may well deal with both.

Those of us that have illness(es) every day of our lives are used to living, what we call, low on spoons. There aren't a lot of days where we feel we're 100 percent ready and ready for anything life throws at us (caveat: some people have told me they feel this way in a manic episode. I only feel jittery and agitated in mine, so I don't experience this). And generally, we persevere. We are spouses, parents, employees, bosses. We volunteer or we participate in community activities. We try to live our daily lives as "normally", for lack of a better word, as we can. We may need more naps or to go to bed earlier or to take a break once in awhile, but we keep plugging along.

But at what point do you no longer do that? At what point do you say, "my health, my sanity (in my case) has to come first"? At what point do you finally decide that something's has to change. At what point do you say, "This is going to be a really difficult change, and it may even affect those I love, but so will losing my sanity, and I'm headed straight down that path"? And how do you do that? How do you tell those that are depending on you, often in numerous capacities, that you have to chose your sanity? How do you explain that it may seem like a drastic decision, like a short term solution, but that losing your mind, which you are actually close to doing, will be a much longer term problem? How do you get that courage, that conviction?

It's ideal, of course, if others are the ones to suggest the changes. If your loved ones say, "Listen I know you love volunteering at the xyz or participating in the abc, but it's having a terrible effect on your health. Maybe you should take a break." Or if they say, "I know you're trying to be everything to everyone, but let me take over xyz for a little bit." It may even be them supporting a career change, or you taking a chance and choosing to go after a dream. Of course, some are bigger decisions than others. Suggesting you leave the PTA is not the same as suggesting you reinvent your career in the middle of your life. But my point is, it's ideal if they come to you. Because it takes away a little of the guilt. And yes, there shouldn't be guilt for putting one's health and sanity first. But at least for me, there's always this nagging, "What if I just wasn't trying hard enough?" What's ironic is, I would never feel this way about someone else. I'd be 100 percent behind them making whatever changes they need to. I'd understand exactly how they feel, and I'd be the first one to tell them that if they don't have their health and sanity, that they can't be there to help others, so in the long term, it's best for everyone. But when it comes to myself, I'm always managing to convince myself that I can't let anyone down, or put anything at risk. I always manage to convince myself that I just have to get through it, because I'm failing otherwise. We are, I think, our own worst critics. And so someone else being on your team, looking at things from the perspective of your health and sanity instead of the perspective of "how things normally go" or "the most logical solution", is one of hte most amazing feelings one can experience. And for it to be their idea, for them to be behind it lessen the self-criticism, is amazing.

But sometimes, that isn't the case. Sometimes it feels that nobody truly understands what is going on inside your head. You look ok. You're holding it together. You had a good day/week, and that makes them think it's not that bad. And it's understandable, I suppose. They see you've gotten through everything else. They think it's a kneejerk reaction, or that you're so emotional that you're not thinking it through. They don't understand the battle raging in your head. The battle that you're losing more quickly each day. So what do you do? When, and how, do you say, "Enough is enough"?  Have you done this? I would love to hear your stories.