At some point in your life you learn to listen to that voice inside that gives everyone the benefit of the doubt and you weed through the BS you allow people to put you through. It’s important when you are on the quest to beat your illness. You either lay down and let sickness take over or you fight. I decided to fight. Because I know I can get better or at least better at dealing with a chronic illness. With SLE, my attitude each day impacts the severity of my symptoms. STRESS and SLE don’t mix. STRESS and I don’t get along. Whether it’s Lupus SLE, Cancer, MS whatever, STRESS is not your friend and the fight or flight instinct becomes fight or faint. Not everyone has the ability to quiet the mind, meditate, slow themselves down. I know I don’t and wish I could. My brain just doesn’t operate that way (another story) and I don’t want to take medications to slow who I am down. Where does the stress come from? Is it my imagination and am I just being too sensitive OR am I around some pretty selfish, self involved people who say all the right things but their actions show otherwise? It’s the latter. OUCH! Now that’s not very nice for nice little Susie to say. But it is the truth which I’ve known for a long time. Yes, I allow it. Because I’m lazy? Or don’t like conflict? Afraid of being alone? Or the worse…. afraid of being WRONG. That’s it, what if my perception is wrong and I’m doing the “Pity Party” dance? So I usually end up dropping it, keeping quiet, stressing out. Bottom line is, it isn’t what someone is saying or doing “TO” me, it’s my perception and reaction that will determine how I view it. I hold the power of stressing out or not. There are some situations which we don’t have the control over whether it’s stressful or not, like say a tornado is coming, or you hear bad news regarding someone you care about. But whether I ALLOW people to treat me good or bad is totally within my control. I’m very glad that although I’ve known this advice and have given it to my daughter and many a friend yet never took it myself has finally made it’s way to whatever cortex of my brain that says I should a’ had a V8. It is putting into action when you are fighting a mighty foe, Lupus SLE and all that comes with it. For example; you’ve been invited to your best friend’s house warming. Everyone will be there Susie! So rest up! I say of course, I’d love to go, but I understand I never know from one day to the next how I’ll feel and I’ve made that clear to the people I know. Day rolls around and you are having a tough day of lupus symptoms. You’ve not been able to get out of bed. You feel an attack of your chronic acute pancreatitis is coming on so you better take care of yourself. Then call comes, “you going right?” Well I don’t believe I’ll be able to… “What?!!!! Oh come on it will do you good. Get out & get some fresh air and exercise!” No, I’m afraid not…. So in comes the guilt, stress, embarrassment. The Negotiations begin in your brain. Just try, but I can’t even get to the shower. Dang, no one is ever going to invite me to anything again. But if I go I’ll be miserable, I’ll be stressing my immune system. My body is telling me you CANNOT do this today, you must rest whether you like it or not. Also, I’ve pushed myself in the past to please people and I ended up in bad shape which made me either laid out for days on couch, or in the hospital or home and cranky which never used to be me. THAT little scenario there puts enough stress on me to make my condition worse. So, educate my family & friends that I’m not lazy or a flake and my illness is complex. But there WILL be times I’ll be able to participate. Don’t make me feel worse because I can’t do something. Because if you keep it up, I’ll need to cut ties with you until you DO understand because STRESS is a killer and I need an army of friends and family who understand. Just a simple, “hey, we’re having a get together next week. Would love to see you there so if you can that’d be awesome!” Soooo much easier on me. I’m being selfish here, but it’s time TO be. Interesting thing happened while having my “V8” moment. I learned the words “no thank you” and “I can’t” and the most important, “it’s difficult to make plans in the future, so going to a concert, party, shopping, spelunking:), whatever it is, I want to but I can’t give you a firm RSVP.” I became able to say them and not feel like I was letting anyone down. In doing so, my stress decreased and my energy level increased. My pain level dropped. I have begun to have good days. Just by cutting MYSELF some slack. I made a positive difference in my chronic illness. I’m learning to not bend over backwards for people who say they understand my illness but choose to guilt me when I can’t do what they want me to. That’s just the way it is folks! When I can…. I’m there 100% for and with you. When I can’t, I’ll let you know. If you walk away because that’s just not something you want to deal with, then ok. I understand. Fortunately, the people in my life haven’t walked away….yet. So I think a lot of people with a chronic, painful, scary illness find themselves alone most of the time. I’ll never be alone…. The Lord is always with me and He’s helping me understand all of this stress stuff 💙 and that the people who drop away or stop coming to visit do so, not because I’m not friend material, it’s just hard for them to find a common interest now that I’m ill. The weeding out the BS I mention is important. I’d rather be alone than be drawn to someone who says the nice things and things you need to hear, that they understand and will be there for you when you need them, but quickly they’re absent, AWOL, or telling you that it’s unfortunate you can’t do this or that because THEY need to so they leave. oh ok. Later!