As I write this, I’m on the couch with a terrible pain in my neck and TMJ joint. I recently went through something stressful, which caused the mother of all flare ups. Instead of immediately seeing it as a sign that I needed to take it easy, I started feeling the stress of not getting work done, which doesn’t help my situation. Isn’t stress what got me in this predicament to begin with?
Oh, the life of a spoonie.
Spooniepreneur: Health over hustle
Spoonie is the term used to define a person with a chronic illness.
When I stopped working at #WeAllGrow Latina Network last summer, I had to make a few tough choices. Do I go work in an office somewhere? Should I freelance? Should I get a part-time and start selling my art? Do I get cracking on my blog? Should I start my own business?
After calculating the hours I needed for self-care, I went with the latter. I could not imagine what sitting in traffic would do to my neck. And I was worried about the length of my dentist appointments every few months. Getting my orthotic adjusted is like a three-hour ordeal each time. I also really had no interest in working for someone else at this point in my life. I always dreamt of having my own business (it’s in my DNA), and I felt this was the time to do it. But I knew my chronic pain disorder would still make this challenging, and got my first taste of it this week. Because here’s the thing: You really can’t take a sick day when you have a small business. I knew this going in, which is why I made the decision to bring on a partner. I knew there would be days I could not give it my all.
Related: My TMJD story
If you’re a spoonie and starting a business, you’re not alone. I actually think it’s a lot more common than we think.
Everyone’s situation is different and I don’t want to generalize by offering a set of tips that would not apply to all spoonies. Big difference between someone with, say, TMJ, Lupus or Fibro. There’s no one size fits all.
However, I will say this: Prioritize your health over the hustle.
The moment my neck went out, I felt stressed out about work and immediately started to feel as though a cold was coming on. I had to pause. I went to my chiropractor and set aside time to nap after my adjustment to let my body work on healing itself. I had to fight the guilt and the thoughts of my email going mad. Our health is a big part of the job. If your smartphone breaks or your computer stops working, you’d get it fixed, right? Why don’t we think to give ourselves that same self-care?
I was a little late on deadlines but, truth, no one even noticed. In fact, when I finally got back on track, I was thanked for all of my hard work.
Dealing with a chronic anything is hard enough. Give yourself grace and love, and listen to you bodies whispers before it screams. Your self-care will reflect back into your work.