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Over-scheduled!

Over-scheduled!

A Greek food festival. A chili cook-off. A professional soccer game. A play with friends. A movie in the park. A trip to California. A weekend getaway with my husband. A weekend in the mountains with grandpa. My sister’s bachelorette party.

All of these events are supposed to be fun. They’re meant to give me a chance to relax and unwind. Some offer a break from my kids. Others offer a chance to hang out with family and friends I don’t often get to see. I am looking forward to them. Really, I am.

But also, as I look at these events stretching across every foreseeable weekend in my upcoming calendar, I can’t help but feel a real sense of anxiety. Dread, even.

As someone living with the pain and fatigue of rheumatoid arthritis, I know perfectly well that these events are only going to be enjoyable for me if I am feeling halfway decent. I’ll need to have at least a little bit of energy. I’ll need to not be in too much pain. But each additional event lined up back-to-back across my weekends make that less likely. How on earth did I let myself get so over-scheduled?

It’s easy I guess. A few of these events made their way on to my calendar months and months ago – when my weekends were wide open and there was no over-scheduling issue in sight. I was probably feeling better at the time too, so it was easy to look weeks and weeks into the future and picture myself having enough energy to enjoy those events.

Then the rest began to slowly fill in, taking up all the open spaces. A friend would offer an invitation. That sounds like fun and there’s nothing on the calendar that day. I bet the kids would really enjoy it. A family member would want to fly in to visit us. Of course! We would really love to see you – and so would the kids! My husband would suggest something. He really wants to go. He does so much for me and we don’t get to have as much fun as we used to. Why not?

So I found myself saying yes a lot more often than I probably should have. Because, though I realized the calendar was filling up, everything I was agreeing to was supposed to be fun and relaxing, right? People like to have fun on the weekends – that’s what they are for! Why shouldn’t I say yes?

Academically I know that over-scheduling myself is a really bad idea. I know that I, more than most people, need time to rest. And I often need time to recover from the last event before I can enjoy the next one. But it can be so very hard to say no. It’s frustrating and overwhelming to have to constantly remind everyone about my limitations. It’s frustrating and overwhelming to have to constantly remind myself.

So now I’m faced with a calendar that doesn’t have an unplanned weekend in sight for months – and I have a dilemma. Do I preemptively cancel some of these plans, even though they might turn out just fine? Or do I charge ahead and just hope I am able to make it through without crashing and burning?

Either way, one thing is for sure: next time I have to remember not to let myself get so over-scheduled in the first place.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • rockcandi
    2 years ago

    Oh my, I so get where you’re coming from Mariah! I was constantly doing the same thing for quite awhile and then would either suffer for days the consequences of pushing myself too hard to stick to my commitments, or find myself canceling at the last minute when there was just no way I could keep the commitments. Now, when invited to do something or when someone invites themself over, I first think about how I’ve been feeling over the past few weeks and I weigh how much I may suffer afterwards w/ pain and fatigue and how important it is to the other person/people and/or to myself before I answer. I REALLY hate to break commitments so Id rather say no ahead of time if I think there’s any possibility I may not be able to do it come time/date or I place conditions like someone else said in their comment. Just like I weigh need versus consequences with things like housework and errands, I do the same with making plans with others. Most of the people with whom I would be making the plans with are family or close friends who know and somewhat understand that I have limitations. Even though I’m TIRED of having to remind them and myself of those limitations, like you said, it is just a fact of my life with JRA that I must deal with, even though I hate it! Sometimes though, I just can’t let the fact that I may be feeling really badly stop me from making those plans. Like yesterday my best friend who moved out of state a few years ago told me she’s in town and we worked out plans for her to come over tomorrow. I know for sure right now that I’m going to be exhausted, so worn out and needing a nap bc I’m taking Prednisone which has been disrupting my sleep, I didn’t get a nap today, & it’s now after midnight and I’m exhausted but manic from the Prednisone. Therefore, it’s all definitely going to catch up with me tomorrow. She’s been my friend for over 10 years and she, even more than most people in my life, would be completely understanding, sympathetic, and not at all hurt if I cancelled, ok maybe she’d be hurt but she’d lovingly hide that from me, I am determined to keep the commitment and deal with the consequences later. I only get to see her a few times a year! I will not let this disease rob me of one of very few times I’ll get to see her.

  • judy_c
    2 years ago

    This article nails it. Everything sounds fun until it comes time to actually do it…then for me the dread sets in a few days before. Why did I do this to myself again? And in general it’s hard for others outside my immediate family to understand that it takes a day or to recover from the energy it takes. I’m a “swim mom” with a very competitive swimmer who practices 6 days a week, lots of early meets, etc. whew, no energy to do much else. It’s hard always saying no to other things as the “real” me loves people and loves being social. Nice to hear others have similar struggles. Thanks for the encouragement even from 2 years ago!

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 years ago

    Thanks for writing Judy. As you noted, others here in the community absolutely understand the struggles of keeping up with a hectic schedule. In fact, one of our contributors wrote her own guide to pacing: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/shifting-gears-a-guide-to-pacing/. Thanks for being part of the community and best to your daughter in her swimming. Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • CynthiaFarthing-Sayre
    2 years ago

    I really don’t like to say yes to anything in the future anymore. I am a person of her word and if I say yes, it means I’ll be there, you can count on me, yada, yada, yada. Unfortunately that’s the way it use to be. Now I’m unreliable, can’t be counted on, cancel a lot at the last minute due to this deplorable disease. I might be feeling great when the invitation is extended but unable to even move about when the date arrives so I have started accepting invitations with conditions. “IF” I’m feeling well enough, I’ll be there. “IF” I’m not too tired, I’ll be there. Fortunately I am surrounded by loving family and friends who understand and accept me, warts and all.

  • Wendy
    2 years ago

    yes, yes, YESSS!!!!! and I have two elementary school age kids and they want to decorate and make chex mix and go to parades all in one day. sharing things like this with family helps more than you know. thanks so much for writing and posting this for all of us out here.

  • Michele
    4 years ago

    Mariah I know exactly how you feel! Your post encouraged me so much. I am in the exact same boat right now with kids activities, Origami Owl Parties (I am a designer) and other events. I am even going on an overnight campout with my daughters Girl Scout troop and I am so worried about it. Worrying about how will I feel but then I think about how much it means to my daughter and try not to think of the pain I will likely be in. I have decided to take the Monday off of work to recover. I think the same thing…how did I get myself into this? It is a constant trade off but I don’t want this disease to rule my life so I press on as much as I can. Thank you for your post. It is nice to know I am not alone. 🙂

  • Carla Kienast
    4 years ago

    Oh, Mariah! I feel for you. Now that you’ve said “Yes”, it’s almost as stressful to decline as it would be to just go ahead and go. I’ve taught a stress reduction class and one of the key points is that even good stress (such as your busy schedule) is still stress. Good luck with everything.

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