I attended a virtual event yesterday about mental health. I was supposed to give my input, but I didn’t know exactly when I would be speaking. After an hour and fifteen minutes, I needed to log off because adrenaline had been pumping through my body the whole time, and I was sick from it. It took me an extra dose of medication and two to three hours to get back to a place of feeling okay.
One of the worst parts of this illness is the desire to do things that I cannot do. I want to feel 100% all the time. I want to be able to speak at events, travel, visit friends and family, attend conferences and workshops, but so often, it isn’t possible for me.
It is hard to accept that I was unaware of any limitations that held me back for much of my life. I did what I wanted to do. I went where I wanted to go. I took jobs that I wanted to do. I flew overseas at the drop of a hat. I was strong and capable and didn’t even consider that the things I was doing were difficult or impossible for some people.
Now, I live with many limitations, but the reality hasn’t caught up to my desires. I still see what I want to do and try it, and often it turns out terribly. I don’t want to be someone who never tries new things or says no, out of fear of a negative result, but when things go wrong, and people are counting on me, or I have my hopes up, I feel like a failure.
I think many people are like I used to be. They are unaware that the everyday things they do are impossible for some people. I think this makes people less forgiving when those of us with an invisible illness say, “I can’t do that,” or “I’m having trouble and need to leave.”
It is easy to judge people and consider them unreliable or flakey or incompetent or even someone who lies about why they can’t do something. I hope that I have learned from personal experience that not everyone can produce at the same level, have a busy schedule, go to every event you or me, or others can.
I need to extend more grace to those people who have a more difficult time than I do. I need to believe that they are doing the best they can. I hope others will extend that grace to me and realize that I wish I could do all the things, but that simply is a life I have to let go of and accept that I struggle mightily with so much.
Let’s try to believe what people say, show compassion, and think the best of one another. I need this reminder, and I think some others do as well.