Having been attending STS support groups (formerly DBSA Albuquerque) since October 14, 2010, I’ve heard said, “All I could do today was take a shower. I was exhausted. I feel like such a failure.”
I’ve heard similar words out of my own mouth, although mine was more akin to “All I could do today was make it halfway to the toilet from my bed, decided I wouldn’t have the strength to lift the toilet seat if traversing the entire remaining distance, so I moistened the carpeted floor over which I stood, and then my knees buckled from the exertion of urinating, never making it back to bed, and lightly moistened myself. Big win!”
Thing is, that was all the strength I had that day. Every. Last. Ounce. Of. Strength. Getting halfway to the bathroom took all the effort I had that day.
Contrast that with a few months on, and I’m training for a marathon. Truly. And that was the strength I had that day. Every. Last. Ounce. Of. Strength. Training for a marathon took all the effort I had that day.
Let’s say it together.
And let’s have me counter immediately this fallacy.
Why, that makes no sense, says some. How can I make such a claim?
This is because, as a peer, I measure my accomplishments in terms of “effort.” If all the effort I have gets me halfway to the bathroom from the bed, it is EXACTLY equivalent of all the effort I have to train for a marathon. It’s the magnitude of the effort, not a qualitative “that is so much more than this” stigma.
Where I’m going to with this is to say to my fellow peers, pat yourself on the back, on the front, on the arse, wherever, because any accomplishment that expends all your effort for the day is HUGE!
I don’t beat myself up any longer, with “Geesh, I’m pathetic and weak. Why am I so exhausted?” I’m exhausted because I put every last bit of effort I have in me into whatever supposedly pathetic, weak task I accomplished. Some days, it’s making it to the toilet and back into bed. Some days, it’s pushing hard so I can beat a three hour finish time on the marathon.
Give yourself credit, peers. You didn’t ask for this life, with a brain condition that determines how your effort can be expended that day. Give yourself credit because you accomplished something amazing.
Self-disclosure. Before losing Clare, I felt I had unlimited reserves of effort. Nowadays, just making it to STS support group takes everything I have not to stay home and isolate instead.
Measure your deeds in the amount of effort you put into it. It’s that magnitude of effort that defines your accomplishment. Such as, reading through this entire article wondering if my meds are working properly. I know how much effort this takes. I’ve been told so very many times.