Should I try to do more?

December 28, 2015

There’s no guide. Not only do we have to decide for ourselves what’s “right” but the only way to figure it out is by trial and error. And who wants to risk the error part?

Friends have been pressuring me to visit them more. Part of me feels like I should be able to do it. But then other parts of me think it would be a very bad idea. But maybe I should try anyway? I used to fly 3-5 times each year. Now my last flight was 5 years ago. It’s time. But is it?

I’ve done a lot these last few days. Today is my day to rest. But I look at my “to do” list and there’s so much that I need to get done. So maybe I should get groceries today. Or maybe that’s too much. But I’ve been doing better lately, so I should try to do more. Or maybe that’s too much and I’ll regret it.

I know from experience:

  • If I don’t do enough, my abilities will atrophy, and I’ll feel capable of doing less.
  • If I do too much, I’ll feel horrible, it will take me days or weeks to recover physically and longer to recover emotionally.
  • Either way, I won’t know if it’s too much or too little until later, after it’s too late to change anything.
  • The doctors can’t help me with this. It’s up to me to decide.

Crappy options, right? There’s a sweet spot, an amount that’s just right. I’m looking for that, but I have no idea how to find it.

I think about how much more I used to do before I got sicker 4 years ago. I worked full time, traveled, did errands, went out with friends. I think about how much less I did 3 years ago when I socialized very little and didn’t leave the house more than 2 days in a row, if that. I think about what my friends with chronic illness can do. I think about what they can’t do. And I still don’t know what I should be doing.

I wish this was a conundrum I faced every few years, but it’s not. It’s constant. Every few months this seems to come up. I’m super aware of it now. I feel horrible in the hot summer months, so I spent that time at home, resting, trying to get by. Then I had an accident and there went autumn. Now the new year is approaching and I am just beginning to walk around again after 6 months of reduced activity.

I need to do more. I’m in recovery from surgery, so I’m supposed to walk more and get back to where I was before. But where was I “before”? I honestly don’t remember. Am I aiming forĀ where I was at right before the accident? That was summer, and I usually do less in the summer. Should I am for my typical winter activity level? Should I push to do as much as I can? But I know that’s a bad idea – doing as much as I can in the short term will mean burnout in the long term.

Maybe going grocery shopping today is doing too much. Or maybe staying home today is doing too little. There’s no magic answer, no one to tell me what’s right, no official guidelines. I just have to guess.

For now I’m going slowly. I’m telling my friends I won’t be getting on a plane yet. But I wonder, maybe this is the year that I finally will? Or is that too much?

How do you figure out what you can and can’t do when the boundaries keep changing? Please share in the comments. Maybe one of your tips will help me and others!

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