It’s completely frustrating when your heart wants to do something but your body says, “NO!” A few years ago, life decided to teach me what my husband and other injured soldiers may feel when they want to do something the same way they always have, yet they are limited by their current physical status.

On New Year’s Day in 2015, I was in the hospital connected to heart monitors after suffering a mild heart attack. I know what you’re thinking… “What a way to bring in a New Year!”

This heart attack came out of nowhere and although my body was completely exhausted, my mind wouldn’t stop concentrating on all the things that I still wanted to accomplish.

For many years, I was that wife who took on just about everything. My husband had several injuries and I became his caregiver. I helped monitor and administer his medicine. I scheduled appointments and took him to his appointments. I assisted him with simple tasks, from taking off his shoes to helping him use the bathroom and shower. I cooked. I cleaned. I cared for our kids. I volunteered. You name it, I could do it.

And I did it.
All of it.
Now, I can only do some of those things and within limits.

Many times after his injuries, my husband would express his frustration, anger, and even guilt, because he felt, in his words, “I’m not the man I used to be.” I remember doing my best to assure him that he was still the same man. At the same time, I sometimes pressured him to “get over it.” What a loving wife, right? Fast-forward to today: my body is still struggling to keep up with the demands of my heart. Recently, I was offered a position to work as an assistant teacher and I thought, “Yes! Not only can I do this, I would love to do this.” My body, on the other hand, soon reminded me of my limitations. A compromise was in order, with a reduced schedule.

Here are my top three tips for what you should do when your body and heart disagree. I hope it gives you some insight into the internal struggles facing injured soldiers. Whether you are a wounded warrior, a caretaker, or a person dealing with new physical limitations, I hope this helps you

1. Listen to your body. Your heart is in the right place, but your body is in charge. Track your symptoms and rest as needed. Ignoring your actual symptoms and being unwilling to deal with them will only lead to worse conditions and more stress.

2. Accept the challenge. It’s completely challenging to stop doing anything that you really want to do because of your health or condition. However, challenges are good. They help you grow stronger.

3. Get creative. So you can’t do the very thing your heart loves to do anymore in the way that you once did it? So what? This doesn’t mean that you can’t find an alternative way to still do them! Be creative.

4. Bonus: Remind yourself that you are still awesome. It’s easy to feel defeated. For months after my heart attack (and even now, years later), I wore out easily. When I used to be able to accomplish as many as six impossible things before breakfast, I’m lucky if I can accomplish two in one week. And that’s okay. I’m still me. Heck, you are still you.

Loved.
Valued.
Needed.
Wanted.

Stop telling yourself and accepting anything that says otherwise. I hope that you feel motivated to still follow your heart while safely pushing the limits of your body.

*Find all of the Wellness resources Blue Star Families offers our amazing caregivers here.*

Author Tosombra Kimes is absolutely adorable. She’s a mom, a wife, a caregiver, a disabled veteran, a business owner, a teacher, a writer, a volunteer, and she’s completely okay with being herself. Her experiences have taught her that people often need a reminder of just how cherished they are individually. Her aim is to make other people feel adored.