10 life lessons from my autoimmune disorder (ITP) that helped me brave the Covid-19 pandemic

Series on Mental Health & Mindfulness

©Creative Lettering by Roshna @ https://www.instagram.com/creativeme157/?hl=en
©Creative Lettering by Roshna @ https://www.instagram.com/creativeme157/?hl=en

We saw celebrity suicides and a rise in deaths in the age groups 35-50 years, thanks (no thanks) to Covid-19.

But wait, are we overlooking the already stressed lifestyles and compromised mental health too as reasons for the deaths?

Hello, greetings for the day!

Hope you are in the pink of your health. If this is your first read from this series, please start here. I’m talking about how my autoimmune disorder, ITP, has helped me with essential life lessons that helped me sail through the Covid-19 pandemic with sanity.

While in the previous post we saw about prioritizing in terms of basics, say, materialistic needs, in this post we may see how important it is to set boundaries to prioritize our mental health. We saw celebrity suicides and a rise in deaths in the age groups 35-50, thanks to Covid-19. But wait, are we overlooking the already stressed lifestyles and compromised mental health too as reasons for the deaths? Did you know, stress is listed as one of the possible factors for acting as triggers for many autoimmune disorders? Well we can’t ignore them totally, can we? But maybe we can get things in our control if we are a little more aware.

Talking about how ITP helped me set the boundaries straight, I must say I have changed for the better over the decade. I don’t know about you, but 10 years back, I was certain this person was available for everyone all the time, offline or online. I was this person who gave in to the pressure of having a family, growing a career, multitasking and acing everything at the cost of my health.  There was always this question of what next in every moment and a lack of space for solitude and silence. And I must confess that I was going through it all thinking it was the norm for a successful life. But no, life had better explanations. That phase of steroid abuse that I went through mocked me for what I thought were achievements and worth chasing. A big fat folder of certificates and medals acknowledging my talents over the decades were mere witness of this mockery when there were more Humpty-dumpty files showcasing the flaws and figures of my bodily setbacks. And it was only obvious for me to ask why me?

After years of denial, multiple tests, needle pricks, bleeds and bruises, I had no other option than to accept the fact that ITP is here to stay forever and I damn need to prioritize my battles. While fighting ITP is a battle in itself, the uncertainty it brought it along was another battle. It would be just in the morning that I plan for an outing and by evening I call it off as my body would behave weird and fatigue would overpower me. And the worst part of being fatigued is it is not someone can see, understand or check the severity on some device and people at times think I lie or just act out.

With the pandemic coming along with its uncertainty and the vaccine making the body sore (just for few days though), I can now explain to you well what it feels like to be living with ITP. ITP has no cure, only symptoms are treated and with lifestyle changes, the flare-ups are managed. The fatigue is similar to the kind of weakness felt when having a dengue fever (where your platelets go low) or like the post-covid vaccine soreness, the only difference is that there ain’t fever in the case of ITP. Now why I bring up this point is people hardly even try to understand the unknown battles the other person may be experiencing. And out rightly I was blamed and looked down upon for cancelling plans or even napping at noon. For long I too was blaming myself for not being able to be there for every person or every occasion not realizing it’s only you (your conscience) to whom you are answerable. ITP has taught me well to have boundaries, to say NO and not feel guilty about it. It has helped me speak up for myself. It has only made me stronger.

Here are few things that helped me set boundaries that may help you too not just through pandemic time but also for the rest of your life.

  1. Respect your time. Have a routine and practice it religiously. Having a routine also helps reduce stress especially during times of uncertainty.  It gives a sense of things being in our control and thereby making us less anxious.
  2. It’s ok to say NO as an answer and without explanation. You don’t have to guilt-trip yourself for saying a NO. This comes only through practice.
  3. It’s ok not to reply to every social media forwards or posts. It’s not rude, it’s just respecting your time and not engaging in small talks.
  4.  At a time when we are flooded with information every passing second, consciously chose the content we want to consume.
  5. It’s ok and it’s absolutely necessary to keep your gadgets off and away at least for a good amount of time every day.
  6. No one is obligated to know every aspect, every turn and every plan of your life. It’s ok to be a privy person in spite of being called rude. In fact, I’m falling in love with the conversations that go:

Other person: “Aur bata
Me: “Sab as usual”
Other person: “Chalo phir, bye.”

  • Make time to sit with yourself, in silence, doing something you love- read, paint, exercise, meditate or simply sit and stare. Remember it’s not a waste of time, rather it’s the time you energize yourself. As it goes, you can’t serve from an empty vessel.
  • As much as you are compassionate to others, understand it’s important to be kind to yourself too.
  • It’s ok to delegate work. It’s ok to ask for help. You don’t have to do it all.
  • Communicate your uneasiness with someone’s act or their mere presence firmly and move away. We are not here to be with everyone or please everyone. If it feels unsafe, it’s not rude to move away.
  • If you experience any of this from another person, don’t get into the trap of hurt or vengeance. Just understand they are not the right fit for you and move on with your life. It’s called being kind to yourself.
  • Stick to your integral value systems. The right kind of people will find you and stick with you no matter how much ever rude you may sound to the rest of the world.
  • Prioritize your health- physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything and everyone else matters only when you are alive and not hurting.

Hope the above tips help you reflect and prioritize what matters to you. I think I’m more on a reflective mode and as much as this was put out with an intent to help you, it’s also for me, as a gentle reminder. We are always a work in progress and may we learn from each other.

Stay safe,

Take care.

Blessed Be!

‘This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.’.and also part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.