June 7, 2018 at 8:12 am #12938
As a patient living with a life-threatening illness such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), it sometimes feels like we take more than we can give to others. This is not by preference, it is simply because our disease forces us to require the assistance of others (“taking”) more often than allowing us to do things for others (“give”). As a result, when we can do something for someone else it often feels so good, since we’re used to people doing so much for us due to our lung disease. At least, this is the case for me.
I have always enjoyed doing things for others simply because it made them happy. I never felt as though I had to do something for someone “in exchange” for what they did for me, even though I know healthy friendships or relationships are reciprocal like this naturally. Since my IPF diagnosis I still enjoy doing things for others for the sake of it making them happy, however, sometimes I also feel it necessary to do things for people who help me so often with my disease.
Regardless of why I choose to do things for others, there are ample reasons why doing so makes me feel good. Below are just a couple of those reasons:
- It gives me an opportunity to feel as though I can “give back”: while my friends and family do not expect this when they help me with tasks, sometimes it can feel as though the equilibrium of reciprocal support feels off balance. To me, it often feels like I take more than I give so when I can do something for others, it brings that equilibrium a bit more into balance.
- Enables a sense of normalcy vs. life with a chronic illness: I believe that as human beings most of us have this innate desire to help and support others. When living with a life-threatening illness such as IPF, it often feels as though normal life for us as patients no longer exists. This due to the constant threat to our health and having to cancel or re-schedule plans around our illness. Offering to do something for others helps enable a feeling of normalcy in our lives, as this is something most healthy people would also do.
How does being able to do things for others make you feel since your IPF/PF diagnosis? Does it make you feel good, and if so, why is that? I’d love to hear from you!
June 13, 2018 at 4:12 pm #13041gilParticipant
While not as much as before IPF, I am still doing volunteer work and it helps me from slipping into a depressed state mind which is easy to do you if I focus on limitations this illness brings. As long as I can help others I know I am still able to make choices … The biggest threat ipf gives me is becoming so helpless that I can’t make choices….
June 14, 2018 at 8:21 pm #13057
It is so so so great to hear from you!! It has been too long, and I hope that means that you’ve been upto some fun, visiting family, doing photography etc and hope that it doesn’t mean you’re feeling unwell due to your illness. You are very inspiring my friend … “as long as I can help others I know I am still able to make choices”…. amazing! So glad you’re still able to volunteer and hopefully still do something that brings you joy and meaning. I am confident the people you volunteer with/for are very grateful for your time and dedication!
Sometimes I worry about this too, that IPF is going to make me so ill that my autonomy and choice-making will be taken away. I let myself process those thoughts sometimes and then try and do something about them (ie. talk to a family member about how I want to make my choices known if needed, although sometimes I don’t want to talk about this). Other times I allow myself to go to the scary pieces of this disease for a period of time that is monitored / timed. After the designated time is up, then I try to move on…. this doesn’t work for everyone but seems to really help me.
Hope you’re doing okay and I look forward to hearing back from you when you can.
June 14, 2018 at 9:14 am #13046Sheila BlanchardParticipant
I live with my daughter and family, I make some of the meals so that she doesn’t have to do this when she comes home. I also keep my room and bathroom clean, just now, I am making little mats (knitting) for rescue and shelters for cats and dogs.I am afraid that is about all I can do right now ,in the fall I make hats or scarves for seniors.
June 14, 2018 at 8:25 pm #13058
I think all of these things sound amazing, and it is so generous of you to give your precious energy (which can certainly lag somedays due to IPF) to others through preparing meals or keeping rooms clean. I think this speaks volumes to the type of person you are, and I am confident that your daughter appreciates this! It must be so nice for her to come home and not have to worry about cooking, even if this is occasionally.
Knitting mats sounds amazing, as does the scarves and hats for seniors. What a generous thing to do with your skills and hobbies. Hope you feel good doing these things Sheila? You should, they are amazing 🙂
Thanks for sharing,
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