I started physical therapy to strengthen my muscles to try to get rid of some of the “wobbles” from the MS. The favorite line from the trainers is “pace yourself”. I’m sure I have heard this before in my life but NOW it seems to grate on me.
In my business, I have been told to pace myself. In other words, don’t play the comparison game. Quick and easy will get the sales now but it won’t usually get you long term success. After almost 7 years of being in direct sales, I am grateful I paced myself.
When I started with MS symptoms (or had flare ups), the phrase “remember to pace yourself” became the one thing people would always say. I don’t know about everyone else, but I know when someone says it to me, I tend to speed things up! I know they mean well, but it can be frustrating – a constant reminder we can’t do things like we used to. As unpleasant as it is to hear, the sentiment is not all bad. Taking some time to do things our way at our own speed can be extremely helpful and make for a more rewarding life. It’s something not only those with a chronic illness need to remember, but also those around us need to learn.
Runners, pace themselves in a race. Those struggling to lose weight, pace themselves. So why is it, those of us with chronic conditions seem to think it is a bad thing to do. I know it just can’t be me, right?
#1 Feeling different from everyone else
I have always been non-stop, on the go. From to being a career woman, then a single mom and then working full-time and commuting. I always seemed to have enough time to do everything. I will admit, I don’t like the idea of having to slow down, or of feeling different from everyone else. Heaven forbid if I feel like I am holding anyone up. So despite everyone’s best intentions when they say pace yourself, it makes me feel bad. It’s a huge reminder we’re different. On any given day, it can make me feel like I’m a burden to the person saying it. I know they mean well, BUT if you know someone with a chronic illness, don’t tell them to “pace themselves”. Just as a runner knows their body, we know our bodies. Believe me, if we need to slow down, trust me, our body will let us know.
#2 Going at our own speed
I joke with my mom who is 81, I inspire to run up the steps like she does. There was a time when I could BUT life with a chronic illness, has taught me I need to pace myself. It is the key to enjoying life. Whether it is a good day or a bad day, we can still accomplish a lot if we simply take our time and do it at our own speed. Moving at a slower speed, taking breaks in between doing things can be frustrating, but more often than not, it can be rewarding. The key is having others understand we may be just a little slower or do things a little bit differently to get the task done. I will admit I am still a work in progress where this is concerned…
#3 Little accomplishments can mean a lot
I have often joked about our “dust bunnies” but I will admit I do like staying on top of keeping things neat and tidy. Fall cleaning (or whatever season) can be a pretty overwhelming task for someone like me even before MS. My desire is to do it but I easily squirrel (forgetting how to do tasks or just get tired). So now, I set small tasks to get done – scrub bathroom, wash kitchen floor, etc. It won’t happen quickly, but it will get done. I need to enjoy the little accomplishments. I know it may sound bizarre, but little accomplishments mean a lot. Why is it “baby steps” are good things in life, showing we are moving towards a goal yet with a chronic illness, we tend to think of it negatively?
#4 Advice for family and friends
Patience! Not one of my strong points. If you know someone with a chronic illness, you will definitely need to practice patience. It’s more important for friends and family to understand and respect our need to pace ourself, than it is for them to remind us to do it. Yes, I do sometimes need to be reminded since slowing down can be helpful. I would rather discover it on my own, no matter how painful it might be. Sounds crazy, right? So friends and family, please don’t tell us to slow down, but understand if we do.
Just as we would cheer for a runner who is pacing themselves towards the finish line… let’s try to remember there is nothing wrong with going at our own pace when we have a chronic illness.
Today’s post was the result of some conversations with friends who also have chronic illnesses. I hope it shed some light for someone, especially those who have family or friends who are newly diagnosed. I believe God put this on my heart today to share for a reason.
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!