When People Tell You What You “Should” Be Doing
I am guessing most of you reading this have heard some quote referring to how we need to abolish the word “should” from our vocabulary. I remember Carrie Bradshaw on an episode of Sex and the City wrote a column entitled “Why Are We Shoulding All Over Ourselves” which talked about the pressures we often put on ourselves in life because of the what we think society expects from us.
The “should” I want to talk about today is when other people tell us (ya know, the ones who actually live with inflammatory bowel disease day in and day out) what they think we ought to be doing. From what to eat to how much to exercise to where to sleep to managing stress everyone seems to have an opinion on how those of us who suffer from Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis (IBD) “should” be managing our lives.
A little backstory that led me to write this…
I am going through a difficult time emotionally right now.
Something awful happened in my world that had nothing directly to do with me but has shocked and shaken me to my very core. Thankfully, this current situation is only temporary but there will be unpredictable lasting effects. This situation has really hit me very hard and has caused my PTSD to become really heightened. Therefore, I have been craving the safety of home and my dogs. My family is out of balance and therefore, my routine is severely altered. I also spend most of my time alone now but as I said before, thankfully, this current scenario is only temporary.
I have always felt that I was lazy for not being able to be productive like everyone else – and like I desperately wanted to. I felt so inadequate that I couldn’t continue doing small jobs and just everything seemed to be so much more difficult for me than it was for others. This article here goes into more about my feelings of being lazy because I live with a chronic illness.
Anyway, my boyfriend always told me to turn the television on during the day if i wasn’t feeling well since before him, I had a strict ‘no watching TV during the day’ policy. It just made me feel like I was worthless which I now know is completely untrue. It actually is a great distraction when you aren’t feeling well for whatever reason, are recovering from surgery, a procedure, are in a lot of pain, feeling anxious, fatigue, etc.
It took him years to get me to start being okay watching something during the day. It has definitely helped me get through some hard times so I am very grateful to him for continuing to tell me that I wasn’t a lazy bum watching TV when I could be out working and being productive. Getting myself physically and mentally in the best state possible was the most important thing. He also instilled in me that as much as I try to deny it, I am not like everyone else. I am not someone who could get up every morning and go to work but I am choosing to stay home and eat bon bons instead. I would love nothing more than to have a fulfilling career but unfortunately, my body won’t let me right now.
I have been doing my best to do what is needed for the people in my life during this difficult time all while caring for myself.
I am giving it my all, 100% of the time. And yes, there are many days where I fall short. Too many days where I make a plan to accomplish something or multiple things but because my body had other plans, I couldn’t do it.
So when I received a message from someone close to me saying that I SHOULD push myself to go out and stay busy and do this and that, it made me feel badly. First, I wasn’t feeling like I physically could do what was being asked and second, it made me feel like if I didn’t I was letting my loved ones down. Or worse, that if I ended up sitting on the couch watching TV that I would, indeed, be the lazy bum I have always been so worried I was becoming thanks to IBD,
Then I realized that I can’t stop someone from saying what they want to say. I can’t stop someone from believing what they want to believe. I can, however, help myself believe the truth and not let the opinions of others put a huge damper on it. I have not yet mastered that last part yet.
It hurts when the people in our life seem to be pushing us to do certain things or recommending stuff we “should” do
Because it sends the message that we cannot figure things out for ourselves. We need someone else to tell us to go outside, as if we aren’t smart enough to know that the outdoors and fresh air is good for everyone. It hurts me the most because it plays on me feeling worthless if I can’t accomplish what I was told I “should” be doing. It can also make a person feel like a loved one doesn’t understand or isn’t taking the condition seriously.
If you struggle with this in your life, I hope you know you are not alone. I do encourage you to work on knowing that you are NOT worthless and NOT lazy, but merely someone who was stricken with an invisible, chronic illness that you never asked for. That illness comes with fatigue and pain, among a host of other things. I know you would rather be out and about, being a productive member of society than dealing with illness. I know if you can’t make it to the store or to do some other errand or attend some social gathering than it is because you truly cannot. I know how much people with IBD push themselves constantly. So, if your body and/or mind is telling you no, listen to it.