Don’t let the guilt of being chronically ill rule over your life.
I am no stranger to the overwhelming burden of guilt about my health and how it has affected my family. My chronic illness guilt isn’t constant but is due to factors such as stress and flare-ups. Moreover, it affects my daily life, my personal and professional responsibilities and my ability to participate in social functions. I have spent a lot of years dealing with self-imposed guilt but I have also learned that I don’t always have to feel guilty about my illnesses.
In the Beginning
I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia shortly after my youngest son was born and I am now six years into my battle with chronic illness and pain. My pain over the years has gone from widespread, to hard to control, to well-managed, to activity specific and vice versa. My illnesses have invaded every aspect of my life and my kids’ lives.
Learning to manage the effects of chronic illness on my life — our lives — I often wondered whether the sickness and pain will ever leave us. I saw chronic illness as an unwanted houseguest — unannounced, interfering, and causing havoc on all of our lives. And the sicker I got, the more I needed help managing my home life.
I felt incapable and angry because I wasn’t able to do things that I “should” be able to do, such as cooking healthy meals and keeping our home clean. I often overdid things and ended up with flare-ups that kept me in bed for days and from doing all the things I desperately wanted to do. It was a never ending cycle of guilt and flare-ups and all I wanted to do was to continue to work, feel productive and to take care of my family.