What is difficult about chronic illness is that it is a factor that limits our choices and possibilities all on its own. For example I went on long term leave from work and in the course of this had also been going to treatment at a pain clinic. I had been told that I may be able to work again part time in about a year. So I wouldn't be able to go back to my previous work or income. I wouldn't be able to replace it with other fulfilling full time work. Rather I might be able to work part time. This was difficult for me to accept because I cannot fathom a part time job that will pay well enough to be sufficient income and also be fulfilling to me in the same way. It frustrates me immensely that I will do all the work I am doing and that is what I get out of it. A decrease in my possibilities. Turns out due to insurance I went back to work full time, because they don't listen to experts. Now I am back trying to get on leave because working full-time obviously didn't work out.
We all face this though at some time or another. We call them ‘compromises’. When I went to university I went and achieved my Masters. I would have gone for my Phd in the aim of becoming a professor but my fibromyalgia was not treated at the time and the migraines I had became chronic, nor where they treated with a preventative yet. So I made a compromise for my health to not progress to the Phd and instead take some time off and get treatment. Worked instead.
When I went to work out of university to pay the student loan bills I worked at a hotel doing shift work at the front desk. The lack of a proper sleep cycle made my migraines significantly worse, and I was specifically told by my doctor to find new work. So no shift work, I told myself. Just like I had told myself, no standing all day, no repetitive lifting and no lifting heavy objects at work because of FM. Limiting my job options as I went along.
This outlook never does us any good because what we are looking at is the limitation. What I look at in my future of working part time, is this limitation of restricted possibilities. Of what I can no longer do. Of ambitions lost. Careers gone. How I should re-frame that thinking is looking at it as taking care of my health first. When I was working I was in what I call survival mode… when you are living moment to moment in pain, just getting through it until you can get home and suffer in peace. It has a raw and desperate edge to it. It had suicidal ideation. A suicide attempt. No pain management. No social life. Nothing outside of surviving work and getting home. Lots of sleep deprivation due to pain. And that, clearly, all that was not good for me in the least bit. Thinking That would be a good place to return to would be Madness. So it is in my best interests not to do that. What I need to do is less. Working part time is less stress, less time in pain, less of all of that and hopefully will work out significantly better. It is a valid compromise to make. And hopefully I will also have the energy to have a life in there as well. For a social life. For family events. For gatherings. Things that are important that you give up when you exceed you pain limits.
Therefore instead of looking at the loss of possibility and limitations. Look at the health benefits and improvements to you overall quality of life. If your quality of life improves, then you are happier.If your well-being is better then it is worth it. If you are able to have a more fulfilling life, your mood will be better. When we look at the whole entire picture, these compromises limit, but they give back pieces of ourselves we cut away in order to deal with the illness and work.
None of us like these compromises we have to make. The compromises themselves can be very difficult. Sometimes taking us time to adjust to the changes they cause. But there are benefits to these choices. Not just health benefits. Life benefits. Never think of what you are giving up, think of what you are moving towards.