The Art of Letting Go When You’re Sick

After a year long hiatus, I recently returned to therapy. And one of the first things my Therapist asked me was if I had finally let go of looking for jobs. It was something I did, almost weekly, for many years after becoming too sick to work. Inevitably, it always made me feel worse, not better and gave me copious reasons to attack myself with unkind rhetoric. All of the self-doubt and self-deprecating thoughts would run on loops through my mind. Why can’t I just be stronger. Maybe it’s all in my head. So and so is much sicker than I am and they work. What was so interesting is that these defeating thoughts actually applied to everything in my life, or well, I was an expert at attaching them to my life. After nearly 8 years of being sick, I was finally able to tell my Therapist that I had stopped that. As we concluded our session, she said I’m so happy, Stace. I feel like you’ve turned a corner since we last met. And in that moment, I realized that much of what has changed in me is a resignation that this is now my life and I had finally let go.

There have been oh so many ways and things I’ve had to let go:

My old life: how many times have I looked back at my “old life” and missed it, terribly. Who and what I was, all that I did, all that I thought I would do. The beauty of letting go of that “old life” is that now there is room to embrace the life I have now.

Family: My Husband’s favorite saying is that family treats you worse than anybody else would ever dare and we forgive them because we share genes. The thing is, family or not, they don’t reserve the right to make you miserable or feel lesser about yourself. Genetics don’t give you carte blanche to be awful. So most of my family went. While initially it was awful, it was much less awful than how I felt in their presence.

Financial freedom: This has been a tough one. Going from over six figures to relying on Disability put a scary, terrible drain on our family. Inevitably, we had to declare bankruptcy, which was also a demoralizing, hurtful process. Especially after all we had worked to attain.

Predictability: Oh boy. Nothing in life now gets to be unpredictable. Moreover, there are no more plans and planning. Now, we solely base whether or not we can do things based upon how I am feeling at that moment. When we do decide to go, everything needs to be carefully packed and accounted for. I have had to bail on weddings last minute and put off getting my Aunt unpacked for weeks.

The guilt over getting sick and “ruining” our family and the shame that I can’t get better.

Expectations: Both those I put on myself and those that others place upon me, as well as, that any one Doctor or medicine will fix me.

My goals: ah yes, the glory of losing all you anticipated achieving. Except, I still achieve things. It’s just different than those I originally set. Now, I make new ones that are actually attainable.

Friends: Those who are unsupportive or toxic. I cannot have such extreme drama in my already dramatic life. The friends I kept love me as I am, warts and all. (I’m relieved to say that warts are actually one thing I don’t have)

The anger over all I’ve lost. I don’t want to be “that” person.

The incessant fear of returning to how deathly ill I was in the beginning. Focusing on that, instead of how much “better” I am now only strips away my being able to enjoy it. How many of us live in fear of the next flare?

It isn’t a wake up one day sort of thing. It’s taken me near 8 years to even start this process and a process it is! I take one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. But, clearing my mind and heart of those things that only bring me lower, has made way for better, more positive and constructive thoughts and feelings.

I still have a life. I still have my own story to write. With no one else writing it for me. Let go of the old and allow the new to be ushered in.

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Fighting with Fibro and Living With Purpose. Mom, Wife, Blogger and animal lover. Fighting with Chronic Illness on a minute by minute basis; sometimes winning.

21 thoughts on “The Art of Letting Go When You’re Sick

  1. Oh Stacey……I hear you bigly! (Sorry I have used that word since the President started saying big league during the last campaign and everyone thought he was saying bigly and how stupid he was, but I like him).

    I do fear going back to the beginning when a shower caused me so much pain I sat on the edge of my bed with a towel wrapped around me understanding why people committed suicide due to pain. No I would never, but I UNDERSTOOD, because I didn’t know if it was going to get better. I was diagnosed in 10/19 so I am coming up on 9 years.

    I was so lucky to be diagnosed so quickly, if only I would have accepted it sooner, I would have been to the letting go stage earlier. The only thing I am sure of letting go of is the job thing. Yes I still occasionally think I should try to do a job again, especially when my husband comes home so tired and discouraged from working with employees who are young and just don’t get it. He’s old school so he has a lot of angst of someone calling off 30 minutes before they are supposed to be to work or being late or just not doing a good job (we own a car wash). I feel for him, my last job was managing about 50 employees, (but 5 direct reports, but the floor employees still came to me, which I welcomed). I was the boss who hit the floor when needed, helping get residents onto the toilet or washing dishes in the kitchen (100 bed assisted living facility).

    I am right there with you on the income thing, though I did not earn 6 figures….it was about 1/3 our income and we are up there in age. We do not have enough money saved for retirement and now I am trying to catch that up as well as pay off our home in the next few years. This means I am frugal and it takes time and energy to be frugal!

    I also had to let go of family, my husband’s, the entire family (well except for one sister). My MIL’s negativity got to be and my daughters and my husband’s eyes were finally opened at our oldest daughter’s wedding 5 years ago when we are all in Hawaii. Ugh!

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    1. I’m so sorry, I have forgotten your name, besides “Ally’s Grandma”. Okay, well Bigly it is! I like new words!! It is terrifying to think about going back, I agree. Especially when never figured out why I improved. Like you, while not “technically” suicidal, I often thought I could never live like this long term. It’s a terrible place that your mind goes. Acceptance is tough. Getting sick this way is life altering, at best. Essentially, the old “us” needs to be mourned like a death. Only going through all the various stages of mourning can we then come to acceptance and moving on. I can totally sympathize with you about your Husband, mine is currently killing himself with OT to pay for our vacation. I have a lot of guilt about him working himself to the bone, while I sit home with the dogs. I just try to focus on being grateful he has such a good job and that he loves me enough to do this. I’m right with you on the retirement thing!!! We are no where where should be and Bri worries alot about that. While we still have time, my Husband won’t be able to retire early like we planned.
      I’m sorry about your family. It’s a horrible predicament. In the beginning, it was hard for me with some of them, but looking back, I should’ve done it years ago. It’s so much healthier now, even though we’re alone. Thanks for your awesome comments!! Love, Stace

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  2. Good on you Stace.
    Just a head’s up….you may already know this:
    My wife Robin has recently discovered that her meds and supplements may be a factor in her conditions.
    Most if not all of these items are packed with nano/tech-cellulose. Cellulose can be manufactured from either “wood” or “vegetable”. She has postulated that the “wood” sourced cellulose has a detrimental affect on her recovery, and even on her general energy/lethargy condition.
    Wood generated micro-cellulose will enter the cell and wreak havoc of its function (short version explanation).

    She has stopped her typical meds and traded them out for liquid versions. Some studies say that vegetable (not vegetarian) cellulose is better, but she is playing it safe(r).

    This study investigates the inflammatory issues and other conditions perpetrated by these products:
    https://jnanobiotechnology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12951-016-0230-9

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    1. Oh My GOD!! Nope, I didn’t know this at all!!! And I always try to stay up on things like this!! I emailed my supplement company and sure enough, as you said, my vitamins are made with WOOD!!! Seriously? We wonder why we all get sick!!! From GMO’s to the “allowable amount of rat feces”, it infuriates me what the FDA deems acceptable for us to consume. And don’t even get me started on the dyes. Thanks SO much for telling me about this!!! May I ask what meds she takes and gets in liquid form?? I’m wondering if I could switch over and if my insurance would cover it. I don’t even know why I’m so gobsmacked, I know better than this. As we trade OMG’s, are you and your wife aware of Fluoroquinolones and their serious dangers? I have been considering writing a post about the EWG (Environmental Working Group). Maybe now is the time to do it.Thanks again, Mark! I really appreciate the info! Best Wishes, Stace

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      1. We see antibiotics as an overused pharma controlled mess. We will opt out most of the time. It’s frightening to think of the negligence of prescribing an antibiotic….having it destroy the gut flora…and not advise on how to restore the gut health.
        About six or seven years ago, a biology scientist friend encouraged us to stop eating vegetable oils, eat butter, grass/natural fed meats and ditch American wheat flours all together. We also started a regimen of making and consuming bone broth and fermented foods to heal our gut(s).
        We also stopped taking antibiotics.
        This place is a great place to start to understand how we have been betrayed by our government (and big ag) when it comes to our health:
        https://www.westonaprice.org/

        I’ll find out which liquid med(s) she is getting in liquid form.

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      2. I have never been so sick as when I was put on antibiotics for recurrent UTI’s two years ago. I literally thought I was going to die. In fact, it turned out I didn’t need them and actually got WORMS!!!! Which left me needing yet another antibiotic to counter the originally wrongly prescribed one! Absolutely horrifying!! I had a Pharmacist I adored, who used to give me the actual lowdown on any meds I was prescribed. I would have followed him to the ends of the earth, but he left pharmacy and I lost him. He was one of the only “Specialists” I’ve met that actually knew what was in our meds. He was the one who confirmed that FQ are poison and told me you couldn’t pay him to ever take them.
        I’m onboard with olive oil, butter & grass fed meat. Organic milk is another biggie-although I don’t drink milk. We eat all organic and/or non GMO. What’s up with flour though? I can’t research food too much or it gives me horrible anxiety. The more I learn, the closer I get to starving to death!!!

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      3. Hey Stace, hope you are feeling strong today.
        Robin deals with diagnosed Fibromyalgia, non-diagnosed ME/CFS, hypothyroidism- complicated with a recent removal of a cancerous lobe and Hashimoto’s. Of course she has been dealing with all of the other symptoms that come with this, including severe migraines. It was her migraines that led us to diet restriction and trash food elimination.
        She has started an experimental drug for her conditions (Naltrexone). It has been around for some time as a drug addiction med and has been found to have secondary benefits. Specifically, it helps with inflammation (and some other things I can’t remember). She has found a compounding pharmacy that will dispense it in liquid form. We had to go outside of our HMO to find a doctor that would take charge to do this (issue the prescription).
        She takes thyroid hormone by WP. They offer a dose that does not include cellulose.
        As you likely know, the CF Fibro body needs supplements like Vitamin B, D etc that help. Unfortunately, the fibro body can be overtly sensitive to yeast made vitamins. Almost any changes that these supplements attempt to improve end up making the CF body “sick”. She continues to take supplements in very small doses.
        As an aside: After many years of traditional meds, Robin’s migraines continued. Sometimes they became less frequent, but eventually they would come back with a vengeance. It was not until we began healing the gut that we saw real improvements. She still gets migraines, but they are much less frequent.

        Hope this helps.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Really great info, Mark. Thanks!!!! Same here, diagnosed Fibro, suspected CF. I have the same issues with the sensitivities. I wish I could say that eliminations improved my migraines, but I haven’t found that to be true. Great info on the meds though. I’ll look into it!! Thanks so much!!! Sending love to your wife!!

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  3. Yes! I am finally coming around to this, although it’s still up and down, I am starting to really accept and appreciate my life the way it is now, instead of the ‘was’ and how I thought my life would unfold. I feel grateful every day to be able to live my life where I am, to be able to focus on healing when so many are struggling to survive that their health and healing is secondary. Despite all the ugly of the illness, I feel blessed every day. Letting go is a huge part of that. 💕

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    1. This is really great to hear, Amanda. It is a huge and slow process that takes a LOT of time. And yet there are still days I slide back into the negative thoughts. It’s just an ongoing work in progress. At least if we keep working on it, we’re sort of winning the battle!!! While I certainly wish my life were different, it’s now more of a passing thought and not one I focus my energy on anymore. Like you, I truly try to have gratitude for all I do have and take stock of that, instead of focusing on what I’ve lost. It helps. Thanks for commenting!!

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  4. I stayed with long-time friends for a few months after I became ill and could no longer work. They could see how I was affected. Several years and many visits later, after having to bail on his birthday party a few months earlier, I was at their house for a visit and he kept digging at me for missing it. Did I mention they had seen first hand what the illness can do? So anyway, I finally had enough, and in front of everyone, faily and other friends, I said to him, “Don’t you think I feel bad enough for having to miss the fun, without you trying to make me feel guilty about it?” That was all it took. He has never again needled me about not being able to do whatever whenever. Made for a better friendship with a lot less resentment and anger on my part.
    Accepting is hard, and it took me a long time to stop saying, “I used to this, that, whatever.” And I always, always tell people, ask me on the day, and even then I may need to bail before the actual hour is upon us. I think they finally get it. I hope. 🙂

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    1. I’m really glad you had the courage to be rebuke those comments. Good for you. Even better that the relationship is better as a result of you putting your foot down. That’s great! I like your motto of ask me on the day! It truly does come down to that!! I can’t say how many times I’ve headed out, only to have to turn back because I was too sick. It’s crazy and something many people cannot relate to. But like you, I just try to set the appropriate expectations at the get go. The people I still have in my life understand that. Thanks for commenting!! ❤ Stace

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      1. I’ve gotten dressed all the way to coat and shoes, got my keys, etc., put my hand on the doorknob to go out, turned around, undressed, and went to bed. Every scrap of energy was used up in the getting ready, so the actual doing was not gonna happen. As I saw somewhere, “All my spoons must be in the dishwasher.” You just have to make the best of it. Being miserable doesn’t fix anything and just makes life harder. I chose to have fun. Laughing at something stupid on line counts as fun, right? I always say to myself, “I’ll be better tomorrow.” Sometimes, I actually am. Life is too short to spend it bemoaning my fate. This is my life now, and I am damn sure going to get as much enjoyment out of it that I can. Oooo, having a good day. Does it show? LOL

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      2. HA!! I love this!! You’re hysterical. LOL I’m glad you’re having a good day! Moreover, I’m glad you approach your life in the way you just described. It’s so true!

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  5. That’s definitely a big step with the work situation, I’ve found that one of the most challenging since losing my job due to illness/surgeries. Letting go of anything full stop because of illness is like a kick in the teeth, and it can be a painful process working through it, acknowledging it’s harmful holding on, and to carefully let go. I think you’ve made an excellent point about family too, but I’m so sorry you had to experience such treatment from your own. There are times that I start to feel really negative and bitter and so incredibly wound up and anxious because of everything that comes with this chronic illness life, and pain on top just makes it all harder to manage, but I don’t want to be ‘that’ person either. Some days I am, but as long as we have more days that we’re not, then I think we’re going in the right direction. Such a brilliant post, Stace!  ♥
    Caz xx

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    1. Yeah, the work/job situation was a horrible thing to overcome. I’m with you and that kick in the teeth. It took so much to build our lives and oh so quickly did they tumble. For me, I think my career was one of the last things I finally got past. It’s tough to have all that responsibility fall on my Husband to support our family.
      As for family, I guess it made it easier that they were never truly there in the first place. So once the “I’m glad Stace got sick” or calling me a faker came, I was all set with letting them go. It’s crazy to hear so many people with similar stories about family. Oh gosh!!! The anxiety and angst and bitterness over all I go through affects me the same way. I struggle just like you do. Certainly moreso on some days. So I agree wholeheartedly with you. As long as we keep trying not to be that person, then we’re doing well. Certainly you deserve to have those bad days and not feel bad about it. None of us are perfect. In fact, I think you do really, really well. Thanks for the comments!! xoxo

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  6. Stacey I totally know the feeling on all they you have expressed in this post. I still find it hard to look at my life now compared to the way it was. As faithful as I am : it’s very hard. I’m thankful for you and all the people who share there stories here. It’s comforting to know we can just let it all out and not have to worry about being judged. Your blog is a Gift to us all. I’ve decided to make a point of not letting my thoughts snowball. Looking for new goals and writing them down. Realizing we only have this moment and living in it fully.
    Worrying less and surrendering more.
    🙏🏻❤️

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    1. Hi Sandy!! I’m so happy to hear from you. I’ve been thinking of you ❤️️ I think that’s a great plan to pursue new goals! For a long time I thought I couldn’t achieve any new goals. But creating achievable goals that made me feel better about my new life really helped. I have huge issue with snowballing thoughts; it’s a tough one. My Therapist taught me this: to think of my “obsessive” thoughts like a high speed train. In order to stop them, I just need to knock the train off the tracks…..think about something else, do something, shift my focus. It doesn’t solve it, but it has helped.
      I’m super grateful you feel as though you’re safe here and that you can vent! That is true. Everyone here understands. Keep living in the moment, as you said, Sandy. Life, even sick, is precious and you have SO much to offer.
      Sending lots of love ❤️ Stace

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      1. So good to hear from you Stacey. I hope you are feeling better. I truly love your posts and hope you know how much you help us all. I hope it’s ok I gave my psychologist your blog name and she’s going to share it with others who have fibromyalgia. I mentioned you to her and she agreed it would be helpful to others who feel so isolated. Snap I need to know if you could do a post on what pillows you use. I’m struggling so much. I just received two new zen bamboo pillows I’ll be trying them tonight but can tell already they aren’t going to cut it. Would love your advise if you have a pillow you feel passionate about. Thank you again for all that you do. Love and prayers always

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      2. So good to hear from you Stacey. I hope you are feeling better. I truly love your posts and hope you know how much you help us all. I hope it’s ok I gave my psychologist your blog name and she’s going to share it with others who have fibromyalgia. I mentioned you to her and she agreed it would be helpful to others who feel so isolated. Snap I need to know if you could do a post on what pillows you use. I’m struggling so much. I just received two new zen bamboo pillows I’ll be trying them tonight but can tell already they aren’t going to cut it. Would love your advise if you have a pillow you feel passionate about. Thank you again for all that you do.

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      3. Sandy, I am deeply touched and honored you mentioned me to your Psychologist! Of course! I’d be beyond thrilled to have her refer others. That’s just incredible. Thank you.
        The isolation is so real and so overpowering; for me and many others I “know”. It’s a really tough aspect for people who become mostly housebound, due to illness.
        I would happily do a post on a winning pillow if I could find one. I cannot even tell you how many I’ve tried and tossed, including the bamboo ones you just mentioned-sorry 😕. At present, I use a microfiber one made by Chaps, sold at Kohl’s. It isn’t great, but it’s the best of the worst. I just returned yet another one to Target two weeks ago. Like a dummy, I stood there and almost considered trying a Casper one for $100 at Target, before talking myself out of that stupidity. Although I just found them on Amazon much cheaper. So if they have a guarantee, I may try it for $65.
        Hmmmm, maybe try a My Pillow? I believe those are guaranteed and are available for home delivery.
        I *love* your requesting a post!!! So while I can’t help on this one, I’m always open to suggested posts!!!
        I hope you’re hanging in there today, Sandy.
        Much Love, Stace ❤️

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