A pair of fatigued eyes due to axial spondyloarthritis float in the center of birthday neon lights including a cake, martini glass, presents, and music notes.

What Happens When I Try to Be "Normal"

Last updated: February 2021

Those of us with chronic illnesses know we have a different type of “normal” than people without them. But what happens when we try to do the things we were once able to do? As a 24-year-old, I struggle a lot with trying to be a “normal” young adult.

Celebrations or holidays

When I’m writing this, my birthday has just passed and I wanted to do more than what I did last year for my birthday, which was nothing. I decided to invite some friends to all you can eat sushi on Friday and celebrate with my family on Saturday.

Much to my surprise (it shouldn’t have been a surprise at all), Saturday night rolled around and I was exhausted. I went out for sushi Friday, had dinner with my family Saturday, and invited a friend over to play some board games in the evening. I was the most tired I had been in a while, and it was bad. After we ate dinner I could feel the fatigue coming like a big storm.

I went against all of my advice and better judgment and I continued, though. I played video games, board games, and even had wine. The storm really hit. Why don’t I listen to myself?!

The aftermath

It’s Sunday. I woke up this morning feeling like I was hit by a bus. No, not a hangover. My body ached and my eyes hurt because of how fatigued I was. The morning stiffness also took a good while to wear off today.

I’ve spent the entire day relaxing. I took an Epsom salt bath, relaxed both in bed AND on the couch while watching TV, and journaled a little bit. If I wasn’t in so much pain I would have napped, but I couldn’t. (Painsomnia, am I right?)

I did everything in my power to not do ANYTHING today. I wanted to do yoga but I knew that it would be too much for me. Tomorrow is a new day and I’ll try it then. But only if I’m ready.

It’s important to listen to our bodies when we overdo it. It’ll make the recovery time a lot quicker if we can just take a day to relax and do whatever the body says we should do.

Why I continue to do this

You might be wondering why I keep doing this if I know the outcome is so bad. Sometimes I ask myself the same question, so don’t feel bad.

I continue to make plans and try to do things that every other 24-year-old can do because I just miss doing what I used to do. I miss being able to go out for a night and not come home feeling the entire weight of my body and then crashing.

Especially for events like my birthday, I really wanted to just enjoy it like I used to, even with the consequences I’ve felt all weekend. In some ways, it was worth it. In others, not so much.

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