They say in order to grow you should be testing your limits, pushing yourself forward, outside of your comfort zone.
But what is there to be said for knowing your limits?
For me, limits have been a tricky business these last couple of years. I couldn’t ignore my diagnosis of my chronic illness, but I didn’t want it to hold me back either. So, I would test just how far I could go without it rolling out a huge STOP sign in the way of my plans. And whilst I was on medication; that was sometimes higher than at other times. But, I learnt quickly – especially when I was under the weather, under pressure, or even just in a low mood – I would feel the full brunt of my disease holding up the STOP sign earlier than I’d anticipated.
I would test myself. I would see how far I could go. I would try and see how much I could take before the risks were outweighing the benefits. And this is something I would continue to do for years. It would be my way of playing a little game with my illness, to be so determined to not let it hold me back. But, in reality, I needed my disease to kick off and tell me to slow down or stop. I needed to control me in that particular way.
Why, I hear you ask?
I needed limits.
Whilst being on medication and without any surgical intervention; my limits became the symptoms that my disease was angry: Fatigue. Lack of appetite. Bad bowels. Joint pains. Nausea. Sickness. Depression. Not all of these things were solvable by pulling back and slowing down; they were big signs that my disease was planning a big attack in the near future, but me listening then, I would buy myself some time.
The tiredness, the fatigue; that was the worst. And it still is now; after coming off medication since surgery, I have to say, I still get the fatigue hit me like a sack of anything.
But in the years between learning to cope with my illness and present day post-operative, I’ve taken some good advice: SELF CARE.
By practicing self-care, I know where my limits safety are. I know where I feel most comfortable and where I am most at ease. It is where I can do what I am capable of and some of the extra things I like doing: like blogging, alongside something such as working. It has been about balance and compromise. It has been a listening and responding aspect on my life I never really considered much when I wasn’t chronically ill. That is one of the silver linings of being ill, I suppose.
Lately, I’ve been ignoring my limits. Which has meant that, despite all my good intentions and well laid plans, I’ve burnt myself out abit and gotten into a mess. And this particular mess has been a partial blockage. I’ve come out the other side realising that my current lifestyle needs some alterations so that I can continue to do what I love but also do what I need to do too. It is not something I feel fantastically happy about – admitting defeat is something I hate doing – but! I know it will help me fulfil my working life potential. I have realised too that making mistakes whilst living with an ostomy – and mine is not even a year old yet – is part of this new life as an ostomate. But being a good, proactive and resourceful patient has helped in more ways lately, than ever before.
So, knowing your limits… that’s important as pushing myself beyond them.
NB: This post was originally posted on Safe Space here