Sometimes You Shouldn’t Work Through the Pain (Emotional or Physical)

canstock26508072I’ll share with you a little secret about health activists: many times we write about the importance of self-care whilst pushing ourselves to the brink. We work at times when we are physically and emotionally exhausted to push out the next blog post. To do another podcast. To say yes to another interview. I know there are times when I’ve done this too—when I’ve said yes to voluntary commitments that came at the worst possible time. I haven’t made a blog post in a few weeks because two things happened last month: My paternal grandmother passed away. Grief is hard. Bipolar disorder is hard. The combination of the two is well, very hard. After I felt better emotionally, I fell down late one night. Both of my legs were covered in bruises—purple, blue, black, brown bruises. I went against my own instinct and decided to rest—to really rest. In areas where I had a choice, I abstained from work. With my job-job, coaching debate, I worked. I had no choice. Certainly, many of us have been in worse positions—when we were denied disability and had to work full-time jobs regardless of the consequences on our health because the system screwed us over. But the question is: When you have a choice, do you push through the pain?

Old Habits Die Hard

Resting—like really resting and saying no—goes against my instincts. Growing up, my mom would often tell me, “Life is hard. Life is full of suffering.” I know she was just keeping it real, and certainly she is the most hardworking person I know. Sometimes, pushing through the pain is good. But sometimes, it’s not so good.   Last month, I learned the value of not working through the pain.

Our Minds Need to Rest

My grandmother’s death was not sudden—she was 98-years old. We knew she was dying a week before she passed. I know from experience that loss can be a trigger for depression. So I practiced what I talk about in my TEDx Talk and I was proactive—I scheduled an appointment with my therapist as soon as I could. Coincidentally, my appointment with her happened hours after I learned my grandmother had passed away. (My grandmother lived on the other side of the world—I could not be there for her wake or funeral.) Talking to my therapist helped a lot. I was depressed after my grandmother’s death getting help reduced the severity and the length of my depressive episode.

Our Bodies Need Rest Too

With physical pain, I also learned the value of rest. Myasthenia gravis is no joke—while the fall (thankfully) was not the result of a myasthenia gravis attack, it was still an added burden to my daily battle against five illnesses. Here’s what happened in a nutshell: I was having some insomnia so I got up and made some hot cocoa (which usually helps me fall asleep) and opened up Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. I still haven’t read past the first two chapters, which shows you how effective that book is in dealing with insomnia. After I finished the hot cocoa, I put it on the table and got up out of my seat. As I got up, I tripped and fell on the table. Then I fell to the ground, which has no carpeting. I fell hard. Then, I tried to get up and ended up falling down again. Even harder. That’s how I collected all those bruises. The good news is my cocoa was finished so no hot water spilled on me. And I didn’t break anything. I know I didn’t break anything because I have had lots of experience in breaking bones and ER trips.

I abstained from blogging and posting on Facebook. My legs look much better now. I am getting better. Next week, I’ll be attending my college reunion.   I know I would not be feeling better if I pushed myself to keep working.

Your Turn?

How do you take care of yourself?

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno

P.S. Please take a moment to endorse (vote) for me in the WEGO Health Activist Awards here!  This year, I’ve been nominated in three categories: Health Activist Hero, Best in Show Blog, and Best in Show Facebook.  Just click on the purple button beneath my picture (picture of me wearing medicine bottles in curlers) three times–once of reach category.  The past two years, I was a Finalist.  Shares much appreciated.

JessicaGimeno

Hi, I have five illnesses--bipolar disorder, myasthenia gravis (neuromuscular autoimmune disease), polycystic ovarian syndrome, asthma, and psoriasis. Most of the organs in my body are affected. I'm dedicated to being a stylist for sick women. As someone who has experienced changes in my appearance due to my 12 meds (including Prednisone), I know how hard it can be when your face and body change overnight. (In fact, because of treatment, between 2008 to 2010, I went from a size 0 to a size 10. While I lost the weight, there are permanent changes in my face and body, which I've grown to appreciate.) My blog will also help women deal with other issues like surviving chronic pain and fatigue. Healthy people can also use this blog as a window into what life with illness is like. Let this website be a place where we can draw strength from each other despite our illnesses and find solutions to our everyday challenges!

One thought on “Sometimes You Shouldn’t Work Through the Pain (Emotional or Physical)

  • November 4, 2016 at 7:41 pm
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    Hey Jessica not sure if you will read this but i am a 27 year old man who suffers with mental illness. I had gained acceptance to FSU at 18 then had surgery and found out I had anxiety disorder and depression. I’ve experienced symptoms close to bipolar, ive had panic attacks, I was even agoraphobic for 3 years. I never finished college and the second time I attempted college was when the panic attacks started.

    I just saw your Ted x talk and I’m glad there’s someone in the world who not only knows what it’s like to be young and ill, but is doing something about it and is trying to make a change in an area that needs a lot of attention.

    You’re such a strong woman and I’m glad this website exists.

    I hope to one day finish college and do something positive. Thanks for giving me inspiration.

    Reply

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