I was told something by a medical professional recently. He was trying to get me to realize my limitations and said to me, “Caitlin, you are not Superwoman.”
I’m going to have to disagree. I am most definitely Superwoman, but that doesn’t mean I can do everything.
Out of all my pills that has been the most difficult one to swallow. I grew up being told and believing that I could do anything and be anything that I put my mind to.
I carried that with me through school and threw struggling with mental illness. While I began to recognize some of the limits my body when I started having more problems with chronic illness I often pushed myself past what I should do.
Five or six weeks ago I started presenting new symptoms for which I am still in the diagnosis phase. At the onset of this I didn’t realize how serious it really was. I thought I could live my life the way I was used to and everything would be okay. It wasn’t.
I was used to spending ten hours a week in classes and probably another ten reading, studying, and doing homework. I was used to running a club and being involved in other extra-curricular activities on campus. I was used to being involved my church. I was used to volunteering at the county several hours every week. I was used to spending time with friends.
I was making it work knew how to take care of the illnesses I knew about and how to manage my schedule and my symptoms. I loved it. I was busy, but it made me happy.
But then these new symptoms started and I could not keep up with the schedule I could before. I tried and it got dangerous.
I was soon forced to realize that something had to give. I had to either make exceptions to the life I wanted to live in order to take care of my health. Or I could try to keep doing all my activities and eventually my body would make the decision for me.
Slowly over the past few weeks I have cut down on what I’m involved in. A lot of the choices were made for me based off the side effects of a new med. I can’t eat or drink anything without it, but taking it puts me out of commission for a few hours.
So for the time being I mostly only go to class for exams. The rest of my work I teach myself and work through email and the occasion office visit with my professors. I cut back my hours at the county, but still try and go every week with the understanding that I may have to call in sick if I’m not well enough to perform my duties. I have taken a step back from my extra-curricular activities and the club I am President of is being run by the VP.
There are limited times I will still push myself to do things. I push myself sometimes to go to Institute. I have spent so much time doing what’s best for my physical health that sometimes I have to put that aside and do what’s best for my mental and spiritual health. For me that has been going to Institute.
This isn’t easy. It has been very difficult for me to take steps back from what I was involved in, from what I loved. This past week was especially hard. There wasn’t anything new really happening, but I was behind in school and the frustrations of the past month had caught up to me.
So I dealt with it. I let myself be frustrated. I let myself be sad. I texted my mom when I was frustrated about my academic performance declining. I stepped out of a dinner forum I was at for a couple minutes to call my best friend and vent to her that they were eating some of my favorite foods, I was starving, I wanted to eat with them, but I couldn’t and that made me incredibly frustrated, but I couldn’t explain that to any of the dozens of people around me.
I let myself feel that frustration...for a little bit. When I’m upset I usually set myself a time limit depending on the situation where I can be upset and then I get up and figure out what I need to do to make it better.
Sometimes making it better isn’t fixing the problem. I can’t fix my problem. I don’t have control over the situation I am in. What I do have control over are my thoughts, feelings, words, and actions regarding that situation.
So no, while I cannot do everything I am still Superwoman, because I will keep fighting. I will keep moving forward. I will do the things I think I cannot do and I will be stronger for it.