I know for a fact that if I had a traditional “physical disease” people in my life would be more understanding. For some reason crippling depression, complex PTSD, and migraines that not only offer blinding pain but impaired cognitive function are “all in my head” and I should be able to “get over it.” My family would not be embarrassed or disappointed in me because of my illnesses. My boss and co-workers may not have accused me of “faking it to get out of work,” and maybe I’d still have my job. But I don’t have a traditional “physical disease,” so I must work harder to heal and overcome the stigma others, with no concept of my ailments, place upon me.
Learning about Spoon Theory changed my life and made it livable. I’ve always been the kind of person who pushed through any illness or pain to get the job done. When I became chronically ill, this attitude only exacerbated my illness. I’ve had to change my outlook on life, learn to say “No,” and maintain a schedule to accomplish what is most important. No matter how much I want to, there are things I will not do because the consequences outweigh the benefit.
Chronic migraines brought me to my knees, and I have no desire to return to that position. Some days I feel good and energetic, ready to take on the world but my body has limits and forces me to adjust. Instead of pushing through it I must slow down and rest, or the consequence will be severe and painful. It is a dance I am still learning and a new way to face life, much different than the way I was raised. There is no use in me overexerting myself if it leaves me in bed with agonizing pain for days afterward. Conservation and the careful use of precious resources is a priority in this new phase of my life.