This is my new chronic illness philosophy. Inspired by my pain psychologist. Embrace the turtle.
Read on, it totally makes sense.
It seems difficult for me this concept of ‘having a life’ and having chronic pain. I can comprehend we have to make compromises and may not be able to have the career we wanted. A decision that is complicated, comes at a cost but can be beneficial to our health when we were exceeding our limits.
I mean it is difficult to be not a hermit. To have the desire or energy to do anything at all. The motivation to even want to do anything at all. The pain itself, well, here is how it goes…
I want to paint the walls in the bathroom.
It needs to be done.
I want it to look better
I am very aware it will be painful while I am doing it.
It will trigger a migraine while doing it.
I am extremely aware the heightened pain will last for days afterward.
So when can I do this so that I can suffer the consequences with no interference?
Then I do it.
And I suffer the consequences of it.
But here is the thing. Sometimes I weigh those scales of want vs consequences and I just don’t want to pay for that extra pain.
So how is a person to have this ‘life’ with chronic pain when we always have to pay for it? And be willing to pay for it? Sometimes when I look at that scale I only do the things that are needed and consequences, instead of want vs consequences. And this leads to a lot of isolation because it becomes only what needs to be done, such as work gets any attention. Often because work is hefty on the scale. Far too hefty and it sucks the life out of literally anything else. Without work compromises, we end up with no life at all, just pain, fatigue, and work.
So psychologists push you in this area. For a reason. Socialization is good for the mood. Activities and hobbies… good for the mood. They say you will always have pain. Therefore choose to do those things that bring balance to your life Anyway.
But it always hurts a boat-load more. What about That little fact of life?
Do those things… socialize, activities, hobbies… whatnot but only within your limitations. Moderate all things in your life. Never exceed your limits and get into the boom and bust of pain. Where you do too much and have a flare of pain lasting for days, and fatigue, and then do it again when you feel able. Instead always avoid that with moderation and pacing every single day; good days and bad days. Every day must be an act of pacing. Not ‘hey, I feel pretty dandy today so I am going to do way too much and immediately regret that choice.’ Pace when it is Good. Certainly, pace when it is Bad.
When we say we exist instead of live. We are exceeding our limits. Hard.
The lifestyle we aim for is one of moderation in all things. This includes our compromises to work if we are exceeding our limits all the time, such that the rest of our life deteriorates.
What it seems like to me is that we are aiming to be more mellow than the rest of this fast-paced society. We have to take our time getting things done, and that is all fine. We take the time to read and meditate because we know our hobbies and mental health are just as important as our physical. We don’t work hard and play hard. We play gently.
We are not the rabbit people. We are the turtle. Slow and easy is our lifestyle. Embrace the turtle. (Now my title makes sense, eh?) Or embrace the tortoise if you prefer.
Other posts on pacing: