I want to talk about rest. Why? Because it’s not talked about enough. I mean, I definitely don’t talk about it enough. My whole life I was basically drilled to be productive. Possibly because of the example my mom, a workaholic, gave me. Whether or not she had a choice regarding that lifestyle is another matter. Or it’s possibly because of the culture I’m in that promotes, encourages and expects constant productivity and work. Here’s where that gets even more interesting: adding a disability to the mix.
Here’s something I consider fact: I have CP and I get tired. I don’t bother avoiding that fact anymore. CP and being tired belong in the same sentence as far I’m concerned. When I was younger, I tried hard to push through it. Ignore it. To prove something, probably. Well. Pushing through the fatigue and ignoring it was a mistake. As much as I didn’t like to think it or acknowledge it, I have limitations. This is ok. Every time I tried to disregard that reality, it never worked in my favor. I always ended up exhausted beyond belief or even physically hurt *cue that time I walked about six miles for charity and ended up with tendonitis…story for another day*. So where does that leave me, as someone who really wants to work hard and find success? Not only professionally but also in my SDR journey?
Here’s an example: last week I went to the gym for yet another personal training session. We worked particularly hard that day and I arrived home totally wiped out. My legs and feet ached and my whole body was sore. Don’t get me wrong, exercising is wonderful and can be energizing but CP almost always has other plans. I barely managed to take a hot shower then made a beeline for my bed to lay down. It was like both my brain and body flashed one of those huge, neon self care! signs at me. What do I do when I see/feel those neon signs? It’s fairly simple: I listen to them. You better believe I went to lie down after that training session and hot shower. However. I started to feel guilty during that resting time. Yes, guilty. Because I wasn’t being productive and instead watched Netflix. Won’t get into what being productive means for me specifically but let’s just say I definitely had things I needed to get done. Watching an episode or two of The Crown wasn’t on that list. Let me just say when I feel guilty, I feel it in capital letters. Spaced. G U I L T Y. I feel like stylization is more powerful than italics. That’s just me, though. I felt a deep sense of guilt. So hard, all the way down to my soul.
You might be thinking ok…what the heck does that mean? I’m going to tell you. Here’s another example. I was being productive earlier today and had to stop because of back pain. SDR is a major spinal surgery, after all. Sometimes my back gets sore after sitting up for a while and I need to go rest. I listened to my body. Then I felt guilty again. The guilt evolves into a dangerous line of thinking. “If I can’t get through today’s work, how will I accomplish x and y in the future?” or “how will I accomplish new goals I’ve set for myself? Can I handle it all?” Honestly, that thinking makes me feel pretty sad. Like I’m somehow not enough no matter how hard I try. But in the spirit of positivity and optimism, here are some ways I attempt to combat that negative thinking:
- By breaking down my to-do list into manageable, digestible bits. Personally, I’m a huge list person. I try to break down my daily or weekly to-do list into smaller items to avoid getting overwhelmed. Plus, it’s always super satisfying to cross an item off that list once it’s completed.
- By cutting myself some slack and giving myself important reminders. Like I said, my journey is going to be different than that of my non-disabled peers because I have CP. With that comes extra considerations. Like blocking off time for self-care, reaching out when I need it and setting crucial boundaries. As for those important reminders, I just tell myself that I am enough and try to stop those negative thoughts before or as they happen (thought-stopping, anyone?). You are enough.
- By taking everything one day at a time. An oldie but a goodie. I have a tendency to think of multiple scenarios at once. Instead, I try and take everything one day at a time, in a way temporarily narrowing my vision of the future. Those dreams I’ve conjured up are still there. I’m just not letting my head go there until those dreams are actually closer. If that makes any sense.
What I’m trying to say is this: to my fellow disabled people: take that break. Take that rest time. Watch that Netflix show. Have a bubble bath. Do whatever it is you do to practice self-care. Life is exhausting. The rest is just as important as the work we do.
I want to end this post on another vital note. This is for all those people out there who spout things like “Oh, you didn’t do x, y or z? You’re lazy.” I like to think of laziness as an ableist construct, especially in the context of disabled people not doing enough or “not trying hard enough.” Disabled people are not lazy. I’m not lazy. I just have considerations like fatigue and chronic pain that need and should be taken into account. As for “not trying hard enough”, that’s obviously nonsense. If you can’t see why that’s nonsense, think about it for a minute.