A man's arms create a circle in which his smaller self relaxes among flowers.

Boundaries & Learning to Prioritize Ourselves

Limits, boundaries, managed access, call it what you wish. This is a touchy subject, but it is a vital idea as you move along with any illness or condition that drains you.

First and foremost, you will need to accept the truth that you cannot allow everyone around you to have unfettered access and unending time. Any chronic illness like bladder cancer requires energy to navigate it. You have to make yourself a priority. This may be the first time you have ever done that and it may cause all sorts of anxiety and guilt.

Learning to prioritize ourselves

Today, we have a crisis of privacy and alone time. Social media, cell phones, always on. We do not spend time truly alone or unplugged. You will be well-served to become comfortable with your own company and by cultivating the willingness to say, “No.” I am not suggesting being rude. Far from it, I am suggesting moving yourself to the head of the self-care line and keeping yourself there.

My own mental health struggles

If you have read any of my articles, you will know that I wrestle with some mental health issues as well as medical health issues. For years upon years, this caused me terrible anxiety and worry. What if I failed someone? What if I cannot do everything I once did? How will people feel if I have to cancel plans or ask for an accommodation? What if the truth is none of this matters in your healing or living your best life. None of it!

Setting boundaries

How people receive your needs is a 'them' problem, not a 'you' problem. One of my meds is causing me to be a bit wobbly from time to time. In the past, I would have played it off as stumbling, not wanting to make anyone uncomfortable. Now, I set a boundary. I advocated for myself. I bought a cane. I called the kids and told them why I might be using a cane when they saw me. I didn’t ask anyone anything, this is what I need and what I am going to have. No anger, no malice, just a healthy conversation.

Knowing when I need a break and being able to take it

Access. Here, things may get a lot more complicated. This is why transparency is so important. If I am tired, I tell people I need a break. If I am out driving, I pull over and catch a quick nap. If the company asked, I tell them. If I cannot muster the energy to talk on the phone or have a visit, I will say so. I will say so in kindness, but I will say so.

My adult (read also “wife”) knows. If we are out in public and I need out, I will ask for the keys, even if I have them. She knows that I am telling her that I am in need of quiet time. Some people are a bit taken aback that I just leave, but most assume I am coming back and have no response at all.

You deserve the best

The point of all of this is to empower you to advocate for your needs, your needs. Some of us never realized we had or were allowed needs until we got sick. Ask for what you need. Ask loudly if you need to. You deserve the very best for you and that sometimes means someone else may have to have some discomfort or embarrassment. Again, no malice or hostility, but you have to choose YOU!

Have your best life...your very best life.

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