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Between Surviving & Thriving - Still Looking for a Middle Ground

As I’ve begun settling into my early 30’s over the past few years, I’ve become increasingly cognizant of my behaviors. This includes the ways in which I use my days and my energy. The things I’ve realized have actually been fascinating to me. I’m noticing the ways in which IBD has changed my actions and mentalities.

I seem to most often operate at one of two speeds: survival mode or thriving.

Survival mode leaves me slow and unable to accomplish much

This has been incredibly relevant to me over the past few months as I’ve been in my first trimester of pregnancy. I'm experiencing both increased Crohn’s disease symptoms (mostly in the form of frequent diarrhea) as well as morning sickness (which absolutely is never limited to the morning hours). Survival mode for me looks a lot like operating at 20% capacity. Generally, 1-2 things are set as a priority for the day, regardless of if they involve leaving the house or simply being more focused inside. Once I accomplish those items, I try to recognize the energy or strength they required. I am working on getting better at providing myself grace, and a little bit of enthusiasm for being able to check some things off my list.

The remainder of my days recently has looked very slow. Sometimes they involve hours of Netflix or naps, not answering my phone, and not being productive. Please understand there are absolutely times I experience significant self-judgment or even grief. In the past, I would have looked at these days as a complete waste of time. It has taken me so long to recognize that sometimes, survival mode is just that - a necessary part of my balance.

Thriving includes full days of productivity

Since finding out I was pregnant, I have had very few days like this. I do enjoy them and feel energized by them mentally and emotionally when they occur. Most times, these days contain full to-do lists including errands, chores, and specific to-dos like following up on emails, paying bills, sending out happy mail, or the like. Often on these days, I also have the pep in my step to call or text a friend to say hi, stop by the store to get groceries or take on an extra project around the house. On a day where I feel like I’m thriving, I feel like I’m operating close to 90-95% of my capacity.

After so many years of debilitating Crohn’s symptoms, these days honestly feel like a fairly large accomplishment for me, regardless of the “costs” afterward. Days like this are obviously more frequent during the times when my IBD symptoms aren’t as detrimental to or interrupting of my quality of life. Although they often leave me physically drained, they absolutely made me feel mentally renewed. This, to me, has always been worth it.

As someone who has always been very Type A, I very much used to define myself by my tangible successes. How much I got done, how fast I got it done, what my grade or score or profit was. My life with IBD has changed that significantly, as I learned early it was so easy to get down on myself when I couldn’t charge forward like I wanted to, or like I had previously.

Still looking for a middle ground between these two

So now, today, I sit here and wonder, is there an in-between mode that exists between surviving and thriving? Between doing everything and doing only a little? In looking at my own life, it seems like I struggle to find a middle ground, a place where I operate somewhere between 20% and 90% on a regular, consistent basis.

As I transition into my second trimester of pregnancy, I'm hoping both baby and I find some symptom stability. I think that this is my biggest goal. A goal of finding a routine, maybe one where regularly I’m able to operate around 50-60%.

If you’ve found a way to find consistency in your routine and in your energy output, I’d love to hear what has been successful!

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