I am learning the hard way that the answer to this question is no. No… you cannot overachieve your way out of chronic illness because if you could, I know I’d be cured by now!
All of my life I have strived to succeed. If you told me that I couldn’t do something, I was going to do it and do it better than anyone else. If you told me that I was good at something, I wanted to be even better. I pushed and pushed hard throughout my life. It’s a family trait or maybe a family curse. I haven’t figured that out yet.
My last boss used to tell co-workers to share their problems with me because I was like a dog with a bone and I would not let go until a solution was found and progress was made. I was good for business. But that drive is also what drove me out of my career when became ill with my sarcoidosis diagnosis. I pushed so hard that all I did was make myself sicker.
I suddenly found that I could no longer overachieve my way out of being sick and I have tried. Believe me, I have tried. The first thing I did was educate myself on my bizarre and rarely heard of disease so that I could be an active participant in my healthcare decisions. I have faithfully attended all of my medical appointments and I have been poked and prodded like a pin cushion. I changed my diet. I started exercising. I lost weight. I regularly see my health care specialists and follow their guidance to the letter. I take all of my prescribed medications with complete knowledge regarding every drug including a full understanding of what it is supposed to do for me and what the potential side effects are as well as potential drug interaction. I’ve even reviewed my own medical records for accuracy.
There is no known cause and no known cure for my disease yet somehow in my overdeveloped sense of achievement, I have believed that I could somehow find a way to fix this problem too so that I could just get back to my normal life and be done with all this already!
Well, this hasn’t happened…yet.
What has happened is that I have had to slowly and painfully realize that I am now someone who has to do things differently. I am now someone who has to live differently. I am now someone with limitations because no matter how hard I try to throw answers at the problem that is my disease, the worse I end up feeling.
I cannot overachieve my way out of chronic illness. I can however, learn to live with it.
I can learn to live with it by accepting that I need to allow for a new concept to be my guiding force…balance. I can still achieve and I can still strive. I just have to do it at a slower pace and allow for rest.
I can still be a problem solver and that dog with a bone but now, I might have to share the bone and let more people help me which is very hard for a classic overachiever like me!
I have to learn that making necessary adjustments to my disease does not make me weak. It does not mean I am a failure. It does not mean I should not set goals. It just means I need learn to set realistic goals and allow for added time to meet them.
Balance is a new skill I need not only to learn but to embrace as my best weapon against living with sarcoidosis.
Balance is what I need to find in order to have peace.
Balance does not mean giving up or giving in.
Balance is what will keep me from falling.
Balance is what will stabilize me because trying to overachieve my way out of living with a chronic condition is not working!