Giving up? Or giving in? I think it’s safe to say that most haven’t put much thought into the meaning or impact of these two similar statements. That is, unless you are staring adversity in the face. For anyone who has ever gotten a piece of life-altering news, whether it was about a job, their health, or their family, giving up has probably at least crossed their mind. The same goes for anyone living with a chronic illness. The diagnosis in and of itself can make you want to throw in the towel. Not to mention living with that condition for the rest of your life. Eventually we all come to a point when we have to decide if we are going to give up…or just give in and make changes that can help us learn to live our life to the fullest!

That’s the difference between giving up and giving in. For many of us, giving up feels like failure. Like we just simply aren’t strong enough  to handle the situation at hand. On the other, giving in feels more like an acceptance that you can’t change certain things and have decided to find the best way to deal with the situation.

Here are some examples:

Giving Up: “The pain is just simply too much to bear. It is just too much to handle. I am done trying. I will just throw the covers over my head and stay in bed all day.”

I know we have all felt like this from time to time and that is okay. That being said, if you want to continue doing the things you like to do you have to change your mindset and put a different spin on how you look at your pain. For many of us, chronic pain has become the new norm…and staying in bed for the rest of your life isn’t the best overall option.

Giving In: “I know I cannot control my pain level as much as I would like to. I am sad and frustrated but I will show myself some grace. I will rest when the pain is bad, and do all the things I can to deal with the pain. Like stretching, doing yoga, utilizing heat and ice. I know the pain may slow me down, but it doesn’t have to completely change my life.”

There are going to be days when the pain is at its worst and you are going to want to give up. And that’s okay. A day here and there where you feel defeated is natural. But to live the life you want to live, you have to change your mindset and not allow the pain to change who you are, and the things you do. When you accept your pain and learn to live your best life despite it, that’s giving in.

Giving Up: “I can no longer do the job I enjoy or get the grades I want. I’m just useless.”

This is a BIG struggle for many with chronic illness. When your life is impacted to the degree that you can no longer to do the jobs you love or get the grades in school that you always have, it is easy to feel useless. But chances are that you are your own worst critic and no one else is viewing you as useless.

Giving In: “I wish I could continue to do the job and get the grades that I used to, but that is just not possible at this point. But maybe I can find a job that I enjoy, doing something less physical that will not cause my condition to flare. Or I will find a tutor or other support to help me learn how to study more effectively during times of a flare up.”

Losing the job you enjoyed so much is hard, and chances are you will question your self-worth. Same with seeing low grades that you have never seen. Take some time to mourn the changes that come from your illness or condition, and then start looking for something you can do that is better for your health. Chances are that when you find something that is better for your health it will also be better for your psyche.

Giving Up: “The girls are going out to dinner and dancing. I won’t be able to keep up with them dancing so I just won’t bother going at all.”

It is hard when you can’t keep up with your friends and do the things you used to love. We have all been this person. We feel like since we can’t do everything, we shouldn’t go at all.

Giving In: “I know I will never make it long enough to go to dinner and then dancing with the girls, so I will just go to dinner.”

Even though it often feels like we shouldn’t bother going for just part of an evening out, making some realistic adjustments can be a great way to give in without giving up. You don’t have to give up on the whole night, but maybe you need to do what is best for you. Chances are your friends will be thrilled to see you no matter how much time you spend with them.

Don’t get me wrong, there are probably things that you will lose during your illness, maybe friendships or relationships with people who didn’t care enough to stay around once you got sick. But most of the time, that’s other people giving up. You didn’t choose to give up; they did. You can’t change someone else’s thoughts or feelings, and if you try chances are you will fail. You have to focus on YOU — what is in your best interest. physically, psychologically and emotionally? There are going to be hours, days or even weeks when you just want to give up. You’ve had a bad day, your condition is flaring, you are in pain and crawling into bed… and hiding from the world seems like the best option. And while that’s a natural reaction and okay to do for awhile, it is not good for you or your physical or mental health to live in that negative space.

Don’t give up. Instead, find a way to give in. By giving in to your condition, you can find the adjustments that can keep you from giving up.

Amber Blackburn
Amber graduated with her Associates of Science in Nursing in 2007 and her Bachelors Degree in Nursing in 2011. In July 2012 she was finally diagnosed with Systemic Lupus. Since that time she has also been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Endometriosis, Interstitial Cystitis and Debilitating Migraines. She feels very fulfilled in the work she is currently doing and can’t wait to see what will happen in the future. Find more of her writing at TheWorldSeesNormal.com
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