If there was an award for the person worst at listening to their body then I would be the winner. I spent the last 12 months powering through severe pain, nausea, fatigue and really bad bowel issues. I was taking up to 20 tablets a day for all of my symptoms (none of them actually treating the problem) and instead of thinking shit, I’m a young person who is relying on morphine to go to work each day maybe I should take a break and sort out my body I just kept going. If the pain was worse I’d take more painkillers, felt sick pop an anti sickness or 5! (Note; at one point I was alternating between 4 different anti-sickness tablets each day) or feeling stressed take a sedative. I had pills for everything and I was more than happy to run myself into the ground rather than listening to my body which was screaming out to be heard.
Even since being diagnosed with Crohn’s on top of endometriosis I am still doing it now, just the other week I decided it was an excellent plan to use all of my time being productive and ended up with a lovely cold and feeling very shit. I still almost burn myself on a regular basis, most of the time it’s not even from doing things I don’t want to do which makes it worse because I’m choosing to make my body feel worse.
People might tell you to slow down, they might question if you need some rest but in reality only you know how you feel and can do something about it. If you having a busier than normal week at work and then your boss asks you to do overtime or you’ve worked all week and then get asked to go on some late nights out it’s you who has to decide whether to say yes or no and also think about how it might affect your body.
Symptoms such as fatigue and pain can hit us like a brick to the face or they can creep up slowly over time, it’s unfortunate with both Crohn’s and Endometriosis that they both have a nasty habit of swinging between these 2 scenarios. For me by the time I realise I’ve overdone it, it’s already too late and I’m resigned to spending the next 2-3 days resting. It’s so important to live your life as much as you want but it’s also important to find a balance. Knowing your limits in the same way as drinking alcohol, know when to stop and your body will thank you. If you can feel your symptoms gradually increasing then take this as a red flag to try and reduce down some of what you’ve got in the diary, try and get some extra sleep or contact your GP / IBD nurse / Gynaecologist for some advice.
I do notice small hints when I maybe need to take a step back and slow down such as being more irritable, sleeping too heavily or not sleeping well but all of these things could also be applicable to someone else who doesn’t suffer with a chronic condition. I find it really difficult to say no as mentally I’m always on the go and quite hyperactive but physically it’s just not at the same level. Of course some days and weeks are better than others and I will be the first to admit that I do have down days mentally which I use to rest both my body and mind if I can, but most of the time I have to remind myself that I might regret it if I go beyond my limits.
I have definitely got better since I have been diagnosed as being in hospital was probably one of the worst experiences of my life but I am still learning. Accepting that you might not be able do what someone else can do and also accepting that you need more rest than other people is difficult and it makes me feel weak sometimes. I don’t want my illness to define me and having to think about what I do each day; if it will make me feel worse, does make it hard to not have it on my mind all of the time. I have learnt the hard way how important it is to listen to your body. We are very complex and amazing creatures with lots of nerves and functions dedicated to making us do the great things we do but they also are there to send warning signs and let us know when something isn’t right. Make sure you are listening to yours!
Thanks for reading!