As a chronic fatigue sufferer, one of my hardest emotional struggles is the feeling of guilt. I am not the person I once was and my mind really struggles with that thought and so there are many times when I let people down. Struggling with chronic fatigue and guilt can be hugely challenging which I can completely relate to.
My memory has never been amazing but I could usually keep on top of my plans. Now, not only do I have to cancel plans with friends at the last minute, I often forget I’ve even made them. I write them down, I set reminders in my phone; but it doesn’t matter what I do, things slip through the very frail net I have in place. My friends are so important to me but I am not a good friend in return and I hate that.
There was a time when I could spend ages interacting with Holly when she was a baby – I would sit and read with her, play peek-a-boo, do puzzles. Now sometimes just the noise of the children is too much and I have to go upstairs. I can’t go for walks with them or teach them how to ride their bikes. The simplest parts of parenthood most people take for granted I am absent from, and I feel so terrible about it – what if they look back on these years and I am absent from their memories? What if not having their mum around the do these things and share the joy in them affects them as they grow? Am I damaging my children?
My husband and I once had an equal relationship: he has always been the earner and whilst I worked, my role was to keep things in line at home. I didn’t always cook, but I cleaned, I did the washing, I managed the finances and I made sure everything ran smoothly behind the scenes. Now we’re lucky if I manage to do the odd load of washing and even then it tends to sit on the sofa screwed up for days. Cooking is out of the question altogether, not to mention cleaning up after it. And the arguments we have about keeping the house straight, as he is just not as tidy as me and yet I can’t do it myself – it drives me insane with frustration.
I once worked, I went out and did something with my life, I brought in an income. Whilst my job was never anything spectacular in some way it gave me purpose and drive, it gave me a chance to be a person outside of my family and it gave me a sense of providing. Now I sit at home alone most days, sleeping or counting down the hours until I can. I crave the company of others and then find them overwhelming and that I have nothing to say to them. I loose myself in TV and games, anything to escape my current existence which often brings me to tears.Then comes the Guilt.
Guilt that I don’t appreciate my family.
Guilt that I don’t appreciate my friends.
Guilt that I don’t appreciate my children.
Guilt that I don’t appreciate my husband.
Guilt that I don’t appreciate my life.
And fear that this is it, forever.