Acceptance of Chronic Conditions

I truly made my mental health and self-care a priority about four years ago following a nasty breakup. It just so happened that receiving a diagnosis of fibromyalgia about a year later really put the nail in the coffin. In order to get my symptoms under control, I needed to focus my efforts on basic self-care responsibilities like going to the doctor, proper diet, and stress management. Without self-care my symptoms would be out of control.

If you have been following along with my posts over the last several months, then you know my fibromyalgia flared up tenfold. It reminded me just how bad the pain and fatigue could be and how much it could interfere with my daily life.

(To get caught up to speed, feel free to check out last week’s post: https://caringcounselor.blog/2019/08/05/making-the-tough-choice/)

After much contemplation, I made the tough choice to resign from a job I love. As expected, the entire last week took an emotional toll on yours truly. When I told my colleagues, the room went silent for at least thirty seconds. They looked bewildered at first followed by sadness. I received mixed responses from my clients ranging from shock to apathy to gratitude. Even sitting in my office felt odd, counting down the days to when I would pack up and leave behind my badge and keys.

By the end of the week, the feelings tank was on empty. Throughout the entire week, I talked myself through it following a conversation I had with a former professor. I broke the news to her the week prior since she sent bachelor’s level interns to me. Out of courtesy, I reached out to her to let her know that I could not take interns for the foreseeable future due to my resignation. We are close enough that I provided the reason behind it. She herself deals with rheumatoid arthritis, so she easily related. After the initial moment of shock, she gave a typical blunt, honest response, “As a fellow autoimmune sufferer, I hear you. We have to know our realistic expectations.”

Damn. She was right. I always held myself to high expectations. However, I was now in a situation where literally “me” stopped “me.” My own physical health limited my other abilities. I hated the fact that she was right. I then reminded myself of a little saying I say to my clients, “Acceptance does not mean approval.” As much as I loathed the situation, it was reality. It was time to conform to a new norm.

-The Caring Counselor

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