I signed myself up to Patient.co.uk some time ago so I could access some more of the resources. I've mentioned elsewhere that I think it's one of the better information hubs on the internet. One of the features is a "My Health" target feature. This was the reason for the email I received from them this morning - I hadn't completed said targets.
What annoyed me? Well, here's the quote:
"We've noticed that you're yet to set your health goals on MyHealth at Patient.co.uk. We'd recommend you set them as soon as you can.
By setting yourself some goals you have far more chance of actually achieving a significant improvement to your health, and you're also able to track where you are in your progress with our progress trackers and action plans."
Still wondering why this irritated?
I do realise it's a generic email sent to everyone, but it did just make me think about the implications. I can see the use in setting goals during a chronic illness in one sense, but I can also see the potential for it to be damaging and even dangerous. It's very hard to set concrete goals with a condition which can change one day to the next with no seeming rhyme or reason.
It would require a lot of will power to not end up berating yourself for each missed "target", be it a product of a flare or just a bad day in general. To give an example from my own experience, if I have a full blown IC flare up (thankfully rare) I can't stray very far at all from the bathroom. It would present some difficulties in terms of meeting goals.
There's a very real danger of getting too caught up in what you feel you "have" to do. With a firm hand realistic small goals could be set and I think this would be most effective on a daily basis. That way it allows you to assess what kind of day your having and tailor any "goals" to suit.
I've realised I do this to some extent without thinking in the sense of general housework. I give myself one task a day (for a good day) that I need to do or do part of. It still winds me up somewhat when I can't manage it, even though I know it's beyond my control. I'm getting there slowly, but I still have to sit down and remind myself that it's not something which can be helped. Even knowing what's wrong and having a general feeling of what my body is doing, it's hard not to succumb to "I'm just being a bit lazy" some days and end up expecting too much of myself. That road generally leads to pushing it too far and several days of needing a lot of rest.
Hence my point on the dangers of getting too caught up in targets.
I think the phrase which particularly bugged was the "actually achieving a significant improvement to your health" - I know it isn't aimed personally, but it's almost like saying you don't try and that you need a rigid set of goals to bind yourself with because without it you will automatically fail.
Taking this away from the specific chronic ill health arena and into a more general sphere, it touches on something I feel quite strongly about.
Life is not an attainment quiz. It's not a flow chart where you move down a level once you complete a prescribed "goal". There is no way I can imagine it to be healthy to live your life according a prescribed set of expectations which you can tick off. Your path is your own - it shouldn't be compared to anybody else's.
You are not failing your own health if you don't set religious goals. It touches on the "no pain, no gain" mantra, as if health is just one more gym visit away. I must return at this point to the community over at Chronic Illness Cat for a rather dry observation:
( *facepalm* )
Let me try to make this abundantly clear.
By being a sufferer of chronic ill health you are not "quitting", and you are not failing life's little flowchart. By choosing to conserve your energy where necessary and having the strength and courage to make sometimes difficult decisions based on your overall health needs, quitting is the very last thing you are doing. You're just walking a path which is different from that of a healthy person. Their goals and yours won't necessarily match up or cross over, and that's completely fine.
There is no acceptance and well being to be found in building a cage of expectation and locking yourself within. I personally think it is more likely to be damaging than achieve any good. So open the cage door and take a walk outside. Why not?
"It's a dangerous business Frodo, going our your door. You set off, and if you don't heed your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to."
- Bilbo Baggins, The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
As always, wishing you all many spoons for the week ahead. xx