In the early days of my illness I really struggled to grasp my sudden need to sleep. Over time I’ve learnt to accept it, manage it and understand it. For the most part I don’t have any problems with my tiredness and claiming the “I’m more tired than you” title, even if someone has had a big weekend or a lousy night’s sleep. But today, I felt guilty.
For 2 days my partner has been stuck in the hospital, barely getting any sleep on a fold out chair. Meanwhile I was able to sleep in our bed, sleep longer than a mere few hours and treat myself to coffee and a nice lunch.
After lunch I was asked if I would bring the youngest to the hospital to see his brother. I said no. I wanted a nap. I later woke up and delayed cooking dinner for everyone even though they’d been stuck with hospital food for 2 days. I delayed it because I felt sick and tired.
I suddenly felt guilty about my illness. Even though logically I know that comparatively I’d had the same lacking amount of sleep as my partner, and that I’m yet to have had 5min to try and rest and recover from a virus that hit me 2-3 weeks ago…I still feel guilty for not picking up the slack and resisting helping out my loved ones.
It’s moments like these that will no doubt plague me through life. How far can and should I push myself to help others – knowing what impact it will have on my body down the track? How will I be able to overcome the feeling of guilt when I can’t help to the extent I’d like? How can I make it up to my loved ones who help me on a daily basis when I can’t return the favour?
Many people with illness similar to mine are called ‘lazy’. It breaks my heart to hear stories of sufferers losing friends and family because of this. But the truth is, we’re trying. We’re trying far more than anyone can see. Thankfully my partner understands me and knows that I push myself further than I really should. In fact he often tells me off for this fact. It still doesn’t save me from the guilt.
Unfortunately the psychological distress that comes with an illness is often overlooked. I even overlook it myself. But it’s something that we all need to consider. Because without the proper care for our psychological state, the guilt could easily eat away at us and the depression can take over.
So whilst I feel guilty today, I’ll work on blocking it out tomorrow.