As someone with a chronic illness that was partially undiagnosed, I felt like a lazy couch potato all the time. I'd watch my other friends with chronic illnesses push through insurmountable odds to keep a job or attend classes at school while dealing with their awful symptoms. I felt like I should be doing more. I felt like I must not have been trying hard enough. Maybe I was just weak.
So I started job hunting. I'd previously worked in retail so I headed to the mall and applied to some stores that I thought would be fun or fulfilling to work at. Seeing as I had a 3-year gap on my resume, I didn't get any calls back and was slightly discouraged. I felt so much enthusiasm towards the idea of going back to doing something "normal" that I was blinded to the reality of my situation.
Around that time is when I started at a neurological rehabilitation center. I had been going on 3 years dealing with a partially undiagnosed movement disorder. My feet were wide apart as I walked as if I would lose my balance if I were to bring them any closer together. I had a tremor in my hands, trunk and tongue. I was told I had ataxia, and truly struggled with my coordination. I had barely any tolerance for standing for any long periods of time because my legs were weak and deconditioned, and my back would begin to hurt quickly. It had been due to all these reasons that I hadn't worked in 3 years. But I got the idea in my head and I went for it. I wanted to work. If my friends with far worse conditions than I have could do it, I could do it.
Upon being taken in at the rehabilitation center, I had quite a thorough evaluation done by a physiotherapist and occupation therapist who specialize in neurological disease and injuries. Over those couple of weeks, they initially asked me what my goal was when I was finished here. I told them I had been applying for jobs and wanted to work.
It didn't take them long after the evaluation to tell me that I was not in a condition to work right now. I was pretty surprised. I had been feeling so guilty for not pushing myself and getting myself out there with a job that I didn't even consider that maybe medical professionals would tell me I probably can't work right now. I had placed so much blame on myself.
So I am on a mission to acceptance. I am on a mission to accept my current situation. I know we're always hardest on ourselves. We're our own worst critic. So I have to think, "What would I say to a friend who was feeling guilty about this?". I would tell them that they are doing the best they can day to day, and it was not their choice to get sick. I would tell them that the fact that they want to work shows that this isn't a choice, and that they aren't lazy, and that they shouldn't have anything to feel guilty about. So why not try to say the same thing to myself?