Therapy is making me more assertive. This is a good thing as it is the point. It feels to put it into practice though and see the results. The thing about being more assertive is that it can upset people. People are probably used to me being very passive in some situations. Offline I can be very passive and my anxiety disorders whip up a whirlwind in my brain if I try to think about being assertive. My mind trickles me all these whispers about what could go wrong and why and it is always very dramatic and ridiculous. At the time though the thoughts are very real and scary.
Each time I try to put into practice the advice and techniques I have been given in group therapy I have all these anxious thoughts. Every attempt to be assertive is a victory. Thankfully, I’m seeing results. A big issue with me and my family is my underactive thyroid and the fatigue it causes me. I took a lot of emotional abuse for a good eighteen months over my thyroidism and the symptoms. I was constantly told that ‘everyone is tired’ and that I should ‘just try harder’ and had my family try to police when I slept. I needed around twelve hours sleep at my worst, then eleven for several months, nine for a few. Then I went on the pump and immediately needed around ten or eleven again.
People liked to tell me when to sleep. I preferred 1am till 10 or 11am because it meant I slept through my dawn phenomenon and when I felt sick, meaning when I was awake I could actually do things. People had other ideas and would rather I was sitting awake at 9am unable to read, listen to music, watch tv or do, well anything, due to lack of focus and nausea. With my assertive skills I’m doing what is right for me again and I am feeling a lot brighter and happier for it.
I need sleep so I sleep.
It sounds simple but sometimes the simple things in life are the hardest to accomplish. I have the right to take care of myself. I know my own body. I know how I feel without that sleep. I know I can get more done in a day where I am awake for less time but feel more energetic than I can slugging my way through on nine hours sleep because other people prefer that. I won’t hide my disease to make other people feel more comfortable and it is not my job to educate them if they will not educate themselves. I have attempted to explain once. I cannot make anyone listen. I am not responsible for anyone but myself.
Sometimes I nap now, cause they help and I’m more focussed after them. I’m so much more productive now I’ve taken this step. If I compare my ‘done’ lists that I keep each day they are so much longer now. Some people might say my behaviour is more selfish but you know what? Maybe they are right. I think if you have a chronic illness or several, you have to be a bit selfish. Unfortunately, lot of people find that while some people are understanding and caring and can be there sometimes, few of us have someone that 100% understands and accepts everything about our condition. Sometimes we have to be the one looking out for number one, ourselves. If a person is not in the best condition they can be then they can’t really help anyone else out to the best of their abilities either. Looking out for me first means I can then try help others too. So yeah, sleep those twelve hours away like a little baby and then I cleaned the kitchen like a boss cause I had more energy. Looking after me lets me look after the family. I’ve had the energy to bake too and that is such a good treatment for my anxiety. Some people find cooking stressful but I did home ec classes at examination so no cooking is ever stressful to me now. There is no scary teacher barking with a clock ticking anymore! I find it therapeutic and then people like my food and we talk about my cooking and I feel positive about myself and all that stems from sleeping that extra hour or two they didn’t want me sleeping in the first place!
I always thought my bff saw me at my best and it is no coincidence that she allowed me to collapse and die in a heap for twelve hours when I’m at her place despite rarely sleeping more than six hours herself.
So yeah, being assertive is cool. You have the right to look after yourself, to be respected, to make your own mistakes and to make your own decisions. You have to take responsibility for yourself and do what is best for you. Sleeping takes a lot of stick, like it is the consequence of bad choices and not trying hard enough to get better whether that is a thyroid issue or chronic depression. Screw that. Sometimes sleep IS the answer and you are the person that truly knows that. You look after You. First. Always first. Always.