Thyroid UK

putting yourself first isn't easy!!

I have always put myself way down the chain of importance. I started the new year saying I was going to put my self first for a change as I have had a lot of health issues, especially over the last month. I'd being diagnosed with RA and hypothyroidism amongst others.

However I have already found it is impossible to put myself first. There is always someone that is calling on my needs/time and I am finding I have very little time for me.

I would be grateful if anyone could advice me how to deal with telling people no as I find it nearly impossible and for my own sake I need to. Please help !!!!!!

18 Replies

Just a thought, have you actually let people know that you are unwell? If not may be you need to and then if friends or family ask if they can help say yes! I was always the supporter in my family and when I became unwell I didn't want to put anyone out when they offered help and it took my best friend to tell me that I was upsetting my friends and family by refusing their support, they wanted to return the support that I had previously given them. I appreciate it is hard to accept help but all relationships are healthier if they are reciprocal. Good luck with the New Years resolution


Thank you and yes I have. I have been open and honest with everyone but still seems that everything comes back to me.

i would step back and leave things but I can't stand mess. So I guess I am my own worst enemy really. It's hard to change a habit of a lifetime.


Maybe do a diary and fill in some days when you want to rest/do nothing. If friends ask, just look at your diary and if it's a 'free day' you can help. If you've already booked in a 'day for yourself' say you are sorry.

I know it's difficult when it's in your nature to put others first. If unwell we need to recuperate and get our batteries recharged.

It has to be 'health' first. friends second.


Ty shaws , It is in my nature to put others first so it is hard. the diary idea is a good one. Think I will try it.

Thank you for the advice


I understand completely how difficult it is but because we look o.k. friends/relatives cannot understand that the brain is willing but body weak :)

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Know the feeling. I'll be watching this to see what answers you get.

But first - what sort of things are you taking about? In your original post, you said "there's always someone", and then in the next mentioned being your own worst enemy and not being able to stand mess.

So there are two different scenarios right there - people and surroundings.

Are you a neat-freak? Or is it that it's only you who does anything around the house?

And on the people front, what are you doing for them? Things they should learn to do for themselves?

Maybe the first step is breaking it down to the key components of what it is you want to stop doing in the name of "putting yourself first"?

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I am not a 'neat freak' but like things reasonably tidy. My youngest helps a bit, my son is useless and my partner is well that's a whole other story lol.

I'm my own worst enemy means I do things when I should say no I find it very hard to say no.

It's not exactly what ' I want to stop doing' its more a case of people realising that things need doing and doing them of their own back. An example of this is I will do something and I'm then told 'if you had asked/told me I would have done it. Shouldn't need to surely all can see what I can see. So it is easier to do it myself.

Hope that explains better what I mean


I think you may be hoping for too much. :) My son would never notice something needed doing in a million years - you know, things like leaving empty rolls of toilet paper in the holder rather than changing it for a new one, hoovering up crumbs, putting rubbish straight in the bin in his bedroom rather than waiting until the rubbish builds up into a bin bag full...

So it may be a question of you telling them what needs to be done - and asking them to do it immediately without complaining.

Not easy when you feel like you're nagging - but necessary!


Tracey, say to yourself every day "I AM SPECIAL" and take an allocated time out.

I do yoga/meditation/read a book/ paint my nails ??/ anything .. EVERY day ... it reminds me "I AM SPECIAL" . ! ! ..



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I have even tried going to my bedroom to read for some peace. Only to be bombarded with people asking me if I'm ok lol.


Ahh .. At least it sounds as if they care.



Without wanting to get too personal,are you able to further enlighten on what your situation is Tracey63anne ?

Do you have adult family still at home who aren't pulling their weight around the house? If so may be you need to find a time when you are all together to have a family say to them that you are having some problems and could do with some suggestions on how best to manage things.If your health situation is slowing you down they need to know that and to be aware of any problems they are creating for you and what they can do to help make things easier for you.Maybe a family conference is needed!!

If you have adult family who have left home but are selfishly still taking advantage of you for their own needs then they have to learn to stand on their own two feet.Sometimes you have to be hard to be kind otherwise they may regret things later on.

Maybe you are involved in a lot of things outside your home.We used to be involved in committee work ourselves years ago and you soon find out how hard it is to fill voluntary jobs if they are too demanding on people's time.

( the more you do ,the more you may,comes to mind).......all positions need a sub committee to share the load.

I know it seems very hard when it doesn't come easy but you will have to take control in order to safe guard your health,for the future.

As Shaws says, you must allocate yourself some free time owe it to yourself....

Leave the phone off the hook......learn to say you're not available that day( you don't have to explain why)

I for one certainly need time to "stand and stare" and am never happier than when the calendar is empty of commitments.

The trouble with we mums is the fact that we have been used to putting everyone else before ourselves.

Oh dear....this sounds like a bit of a lecture....I do feel for you.

Don't forget we're all here for you .....wishing you well.x


How about a job rota for everyone in house and remember to include time off on it?

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I've had the same things happen in the past, and they still do from time to time, only these days I catch it once I become aware. And sometimes that's only after doing it again and there's something at that moment that pops me back into the awareness, sometging painful, usually :)

Here's what I've found it to be. A mixture of lowered self-esteem, because to do for others is a good thing, after a certain point though it's unhealthy. The second is people pleasing; which I've been told is nothing more than manipulation and a few other choice words I did not want to hear. This is from my experiences and these end up being extreme circumstances that usually start off with the best of intentions.

When I was married and had good insurance, my ex was a teacher. But I did not take advantage of that to have a lumbar fusion performed, she had the same diagnosis and I felt it was "the right thing to do" by letting her go through the procedures first. She had a upper back/neck and lumbar fusions. And these are extreme chronic pain issues and take its toll on every part of ones life and then some.

Today I am divorced. No surgery done, in massive pain, in a anon program, have been for just over a decade, single, near 50, and life has become 3 times as difficult just from one decision?? I wish it were that simple. She's off doing her thing, which may sound like a good thing, not from where I sit, I'll take my issues and problems any day of the week.

My point is, if I don't rearrange my life, and it's nothing short of doing just that, I could be looking at some serious, long-term effects/consequences from my actions. It is paramount that I make time for me because I have needs as well. And without our needs being met, we either away and die. Slowly. And that's not how we were intended to live. We are each special beyond belief, deserve peace and love in our lives, and the ability to be able to look at ourselves with respect and admiration the way He intended.

Make some time for you, live life to its fullest and tell me in 6 months your entire life hasn't changed...for the better. I don't think you'll have to :))

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Ty I know it has to change. I will look on your experience and use it to prevent it occurring to me.

I have come to the conclusion that one day a week will be mine todo as I please. I am truly grateful for all the advice people have given me. I hope that you can get out of life what you deserve. Thanks again


I'm a single person with no children. So I find getting plenty of rest quite easy. It does amaze me how difficult it is to communicate to people how ill I am, and how much I can't do. I think I am often like a rabbit in the headlights when I have family around - there's so much activity! I would have the TV off, lights off, and be talking quietly or listening to the radio if I had my way ;)

For one thing I think constantly chipping away at people is important. You will need to tell them 100 times that you can't do a thing or need a certain thing. I have trained up 3 or 4 close friends and family to have good knowledge of this, but with many others I'm still on that path.

Simple messages are the easiest for people to understand. Even though I don't know from one day to the next how much I can do, or whether I'll need a nap or to lie down all day, I've found most people don't do well with that confusing message. So perhaps simple rules at home, like 'mum has a nap after lunch every day, from 1-3pm'. With the door closed, and no disturbances. Maybe some days you don't need the nap, and can read or do something else nice in your room. But once the family understands what 'having a nap' is in terms of you being undisturbed, and the thing being nothing shocking, you could change things up, like going for an extra nap or early night at other times of the day. Or you could have a lie down on the sofa instead, and watch them eat or play, with them understanding that although you are there, you can't be asked to get up or do anything. Maybe you can later introduce the idea they could bring cups of tea or take responsibility for a meal so you can rest.

I sometimes use this 'having a nap' strategy. At times I felt terribly guilty as I knew I wouldn't sleep, and that if I was alone I wouldn't be 'napping', but at the same time if I was alone I would be sitting very quietly, and that wasn't something company was able to understand because it wasn't clear enough.


Some of us are Rescuers Tracey, this can be a serious syndrome which needs looking at, if you google rescuing behaviour you may learn much. There are usually childhood reasons and patterns that need to be overcome. I find Mindfulness helpful in that it makes you aware of your thoughts; when somebody or something needs sorting I would have a fast knee-jerk reaction to rescue the situation, I now watch these thoughts very carefully and do not act on them unless it is reasonable and healthy for me and the other person to do so. It is not nice to hear this but we can cheat people out of life experiences by being too helpful and it is good to take this on board when considering circumstances. Letting go of being a mother is not easy when we have spent years looking after our young; I also recommend a brilliant book "Letting Go" The Pathway to Surrender by David R.Hawkins MD which can be bought from Amazon.

Best wishes.


Ty I will certainly look into it


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