The Power of “No” When You Have a Chronic Illness

Chronic Illness and Lyme Disease

A life that includes managing a chronic illness can be a real challenge! If you’re in a similar boat as mine, I want you to know that you are not alone. The list of things you may be responsible for would be overwhelming for anyone, but when you add in debilitating symptoms life can get even more cumbersome.

While I wish that I had all the energy in the world to accomplish everything I desire, it’s not realistic right now. As I prioritize health, there are other things that grown adults should be able to manage that I just don’t quite have together. I’m learning that it’s okay. It’s even good. I know my boundaries right now.

If you’ve felt like you’re drowning while facing a chronic illness and don’t know how other people seem to live “normal lives” while facing similar challenges to yours, you’re going to see that I don’t have it all together. In fact, my life is often of the opposite of “all together”…

If you’re anything like me, then you are in good company!

Here are 19 things I don’t do as I face Chronic Lyme Disease:

1) I don’t cook

The crockpot is my best friend. I’ll throw in meat and veggies for some lunches and most dinners. Then, I drink a superfood shake of Chocolate Vegan Shakeology (blended with almond milk, blueberries, spinach, and ice) once or twice a day.

2) I don’t make plans

It’s that simple. My current schedule doesn’t allow for me to make plans because there’s a 90-95% chance that I’ll end up canceling them. Instead, everything is done on an “if I feel up to it” basis. It’s working for now.

3) I don’t wear makeup

Most of the time I don’t even leave the house, so nobody sees me. Long gone are the days where I get anxiety over going out without makeup. Now, when I make it out it is a victory no matter what’s on my face!

4) I don’t clean

Once the toilet has a visible ring, I clean it. When the floors are overly dusty, I’ll do a quick sweep. Other than that, cleaning isn’t a priority right now (and this is something I never though I’d say!).

5) I don’t go a day without crying ;)

This isn’t necessarily intentional. I am not very good at controlling my emotions.

6) I don’t wash my clothes after each wear

(Another trick: I have two closets – one for newly washed clean clothes, and the other for clothing items I’ve worn once or twice already and I plan to wear again before washing – the same system can be used if you just separate clothes in one closet with worn and unworn on each side.)

Lyme Disease and Chronic Illness

7) I don’t respond to texts right away

This one used to make me feel horrible, but now I realize that if it isn’t urgent it’s okay. I give myself grace with this because, honestly, I feel better when I can live without being on my phone.

8) I don’t pay attention to much news except local (which is necessary for my job)

The news can be depressing. Enough said.

9) I don’t feel guilty about not being “productive”

I used to get worked up over this, but now I don’t care very much. Right now, my most important job is healing.

10) I don’t try to attend everything I’m invited to – in fact, most things I just don’t even consider attending

Right now, I know what my body can handle and it means saying “no” to most invitations.

11) I don’t hide my emotions

I sometimes wish I were better at this, but I have no poker face…so the truth of how I’m feeling just comes out.

12) I don’t sacrifice sleep

If my body needs to sleep, I let myself have it. I don’t stay out late, and if insomnia keeps me up, I let myself sleep in because I know how detrimental a lack of sleep can be to my body.

13) I don’t get my own groceries every week

My boyfriend and family have helped by picking things up or taking me to the store. I can’t always do it myself, and I’ve learned to be better about asking for help when it’s necessary.

14) I don’t keep up with friends very well

This is a season for healing and it means that a lot must be sacrificed for the sake of health. I don’t always see social media posts or call to check in with friends right now. When I am healthy, I will start connecting wtih friends again, but at this point I just can’t.

15) I don’t keep up with celebrities, the newest movies or tv shows, or anything pop culture

It’s not worth it. Never has been that important to me.

16) I don’t push myself

If I’m not feeling up to it, I don’t try to convince myself to go do something my mind and body are not prepared for. Even with church, if I’m not feeling very well, I don’t make myself go. I used to be of the mindset that you have to push yourself, but when your body is telling you to stop and rest it’s important to listen.

17) I don’t get lax with my diet/medication protocol when I’m feeling decent

I keep doing things by the book no matter what. Until I see major improvement and know that laying off the strict protocol can be done without harm then I will continue to stick with it.

18) I don’t stop dreaming

I still have hopes, dreams, and goals for my life. Being ill doesn’t mean that I’m going to give up on the things I had worked for, but it might mean things need to be tweaked. I believe that God is working through everything and has a plan and a purpose (Romans 8:28).

19) While I let myself experience grief, I don’t live in it

It’s one thing to recognize hardship and the feelings surrounding it, but it’s another to let oneself live in a pit of grief. I don’t let myself live in grief because I know that there’s hope. We can all find that hope.


Emily Lofgren’s heart beats for authenticity. She craves true connection where we can be real about our struggles and find hope together. Emily became a Christian in college and since then has had a passion for writing in a way that helps others encounter life. Grab your free copy of her eBook Finding Hope Through the Fog.

Download your FREE copy of Finding Hope Through the Fog today and you'll get:

  1. The story of my battle with chronic Lyme Disease
  2. Practical application questions and scripture to bring hope
  3. Encouragement for your journey
  4. Personal prayer support at any time!
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