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Learning to Live with Limits

Since I’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and CFS/ME, I’ve been trying to spend my spoons wisely. Take time to rest, prioritize, and self-care. This is a work-in-progress as I’m the type of person who, when I’m set on a project or an idea, I want to see it through start to finish, all in one go, which is not something my body does anymore. As I’m planning out my next week before I leave to work at summer camp (my favorite place in the world, but more on that later) I’m having a harder time remembering my limits.

I think some of my trouble is because of who I am as a person (Type A all the way) and some of it is because I’m still new to this whole Chronic Illness thing. I didn’t used to have to think about my energy levels for the days ahead and it’s a major adjustment.

I’ve always had trouble asking for help. Whether it’s with an academic assignment, or just lifting something up the floor, I have this weird notion that asking for help equates to being ‘weak’ or ‘a burden’. Realistically, I understand that everyone needs help sometimes and it’s actually a sign of strength to be able to ask for help. Does that make it any easier for me? Nope.

Recently one of my doctors reminded me that I’m working with new limitations and need to give myself time to adjust. Perfectly reasonable. Sound. Definitely accurate. But something about that phrase made me pause.

Limit [lim-it] noun: The final, utmost, or furthest boundary or point.

Synonyms: Cap, maximum, restriction, absolute, confinement, obstruction, brink, utmost, ultimate, bitter end, breaking point.

There’s major negativity surrounding having limits, especially today. We’re surrounded by advertisements telling you to ‘push further’, ‘work harder’, ‘strive farther’. We’re told that in order to succeed in this world you must have drive, hustle, and grit to work yourself to the breaking point. Only then will you make it to the top. But in the world of hustle and bustle, where’s the room for those of us who can’t?

You hear it all the time. “I’m so exhausted! I stayed up all night finishing that paper, I only got four hours of sleep!”

“Four hours? That sounds like a dream! I didn’t sleep at all last night because of that project for work! I’d kill to have four hours of sleep!”

Exhaustion and burnout have become a competition. A game. It’s not just a matter of getting things done, it’s getting it done at the greatest personal cost. Why do we sacrifice our mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing for a game we didn’t even know we were playing?

I’ve decided that enough is enough. I’m not competing because I’ll never win. And do I really want to? Make it to the top of some made-up rivalry that won’t help me in the long run? No thank you.

Instead, I’m prioritizing self-care. Listening to my body and resting when I need to. Organizing my days so I can get things done, but not beating myself to a pulp if I need a little extra time. Taking time to socialize, recharge, and take care of myself. Learning, slowly but surely, to ask for help when I need it and actually accepting it. Because a limit doesn’t have to be limiting.

Limit [lim-it] noun: The final, utmost, or furthest boundary or point at which one must rest in order to be the perfect them they were meant to be.


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