If you’re anything like me, you’re a planner. You like to know what’s going to happen and when. Some (including myself sometimes) may call me a control freak. But really, I just like to be prepared. I thrive on routine, on knowing, at least generally, what a day, or even week, have in store for me. It allows me to budget my brain power, my energy, my time, and my money. I can have everything I need when I need it, and look forward to all the good things heading my way.
I think I’ve always been a planner. But when I started experiencing symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis (IC), and then of Fibromyalgia more recently, I really had to start planning. With the IC, I began using the restroom religiously before I left the house. I searched for all the bathrooms everywhere I went and planned out excuses for why I had to leave the room that had nothing to do with my IC. If I was going out with friends, I’d want to know at least three days ahead of time, so I could prep my body and and avoid all trigger foods. This helped me with my plan to have a good time.
The same kind of things started happening when I my fibromyalgia symptoms kicked in. I began planning my days around my pain and fatigue. If I had something big coming up on a Monday, I’d spend the whole weekend in bed or on the couch, resting so I had the energy to do what I needed. I’d make sure not to plan anything for the days following, knowing I’d need the recovery time. Even now, when my symptoms are relatively under control, I find myself leaving my weekends open so I have time to just rest.
While all of this is well and good, sometimes plans don’t work out. Life has a way of being rather unpredictable. We can try our darned best to plan out every single day in a way that helps us manage our symptoms, and really just our lives, better, but the thing is, we can’t control it all. Life happens. So what do you do when you can’t follow through on your plans? What do you do when life has other plans?
What do you do when things don’t go as planned?
The first thing I do is breathe. I have a tendency, as I’m sure a lot of you do too, to get super anxious when things don’t go as planned. So when this happens, I take a moment to just breathe. Breathing allows me to regroup, process what’s happening, and make a new game plan to make it through.
Next thing I do is reassure myself that everything is going to work out. Because, you know what? About 99% of the time, things work out, regardless of your plans. I find that incredibly reassuring. Even though I still like to have my control and have a plan, I can reassure myself that everything will work out simply because I have faith that it will. This step is a little easier said than done, because the anxiety can sometimes be overwhelming, but I find it immensely important. Even if you don’t believe yourself as first, keep telling yourself that everything will be okay. Because it will.
A lot of times, my plans are thwarted by my illnesses. And this can be the most frustrating thing, because then it feels like it’s all my fault. Especially when it’s illness related.
Those of us with fibromyalgia completely understand how this goes. We often make plans when we’re feeling well, or when we think we’ll be able to prepare. But then something happens. Usually, it’s a flare of sorts, leaving us in extreme pain, fatigued out of our minds, and stuck in bed. Doing anything in this state is pretty much out of the question, no matter how bad we want to.
The guilt associated with cancelling or changing plans, or even just changing your own plans, can be debilitating in itself. It can make you feel like a failure and a disappointment, to yourself and your loved ones. That’s why the next thing I make sure to do is reassure myself that my illness is not my fault. And that I should never ever feel guilty for prioritizing my health, care, and sanity over other plans.
So whether things aren’t going as planned due to your illness, or for other reasons, do these three things: breathe, tell yourself that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to, and remind yourself that you have nothing to feel guilty for.