When It's Time to Take a Time Out
As someone who tries hard to have a generally optimistic attitude, sometimes I can even admit the struggle of heart failure can become overwhelming. I used to think that admitting I was struggling was a sign of weakness or not showing adequate gratefulness for the gifts I have been given, including so many supportive friends and family. I think most of us can relate to people having uncomfortable reactions to our health issues that can make navigating well-meaning conversations challenging, or the myriad of issues that come up as a result of it like financial difficulties, fatigue issues, depression, etc. At some point, it felt easier to just plaster on an 'all is good' face rather than admit that, while I do have good people in my life, sometimes that's not enough.
It does not always tip the scales when comparing all of the sacrifices I've had to make in my career, hobbies, financial stability, etc. Sometimes I just get so mad or sad it is all I can do to just continue with the basic activities of daily living like eating, basic hygiene, taking my meds, etc.
Taking a time out can be a healthy option
I am currently in a tough spot, and I can say that the one positive that has come of it is that my desire to please other people first has lessened. On the whole, this is probably a healthier (and more sustainable) long-term attitude. I've stopped checking social media, as I do not need that negativity in my life. Does this mean I missed a good friend's birthday? Yes. Did I feel bad? Honestly, not really. If I take days to respond to text messages or call people back, this no longer bothers me anymore. If I do not have the energy, then I just don't have it!
The other day I literally spent all day in bed. Now, as heart failure patients we all know that this happens. However, I also spent it off and on crying. My boyfriend came in and was worried. So what did I do? I did what I could when I could. I used to feel guilty about taking care of my own needs, but now I realize that I have to come first. If I do not put myself first who else will?
Prioritizing myself in my heart failure journey
On that note, I also used to look for validation outside of myself. Like I was only 'allowed' to be sad, overwhelmed, etc. if somebody else agreed that I had the right to feel that way. But the thing about looking externally for validation is that assumes somebody knows the ins and outs of our life. Our current situation, past trauma's, DNA, etc. That is asking a lot! I personally have found that it is much easier to seek out the support that we need, but really look at how codependent we are.
Our lives are hard enough, and why can we assume others can understand our struggles? Let's use our limited energies in fighting our many battles instead of beating ourselves up even more by not trusting ourselves. Let's give ourselves the permission to a) accept how we feel with grace and understanding AND b) put ourselves first when it is needed. If we do not do it, then who else will?
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