Tag: self care

Mental Health Days

During my days in elementary school, my mother taught me about self-care.

I do not believe that she was intentionally teaching my sister and I about self care when she would declare a random day – Mental Health Day.

Mental Health Day did not come often but when it did it was outrageously exhilarating to elementary me.

Ok so Mom’s Mental Health Day was a day of lounging, eating something healthy and fuss free, and enjoying board games with some sort of dessert!

The most fascinating part about these Mental Health Days is that we stayed at home from work and/or school on these days. We just enjoyed each other’s company.

If we watched something on the television, it was a family movie that we all wanted to see. Since there were rarely movies that we all wanted to see, we rarely watched television on our special days.

Looking back, I see now that my mom had to carve out time for us as a family. Time that she was not rushing to go to work or trying to rest up for the next shift at work. She knew that our school work and her employment would be there once our day commenced…however, she must’ve been acutely aware that the easygoing, laid back time we shared together would be limited.

My sister and I are adults now and even living in the same town, it’s difficult to carve out a day when we can just share each other’s company. Work, school, family, church, and so on and so on gets in the way.

Neither me nor my sister have mom’s ingenuity to select the perfect day as a Mental Health Day. We’ve tried but we just don’t have the special touch my mom did.

Now when we try it feels forced and we are often busy trying to connect to the outside world on our devices and we just don’t accomplish a Mental Health Day.

But we remember those wonderful days that we shared with our mother and we marvel at how easily she pulled them off!

Back then once our day was over and life as we knew it returned, we were refreshed. Practically skipping joyfully on our way to school and/or work.

Our behavior at school and home improved and our relationship with each other grew.

I didn’t know it then but now I know that my mom taught me that self care is vitally important and it does not take much money.

I’m pretty sure that these mental health days likely occurred on my mom’s days off and on those rare half-days at school because my mom wouldn’t just let us miss a full regular school day

However, back then I was simply ecstatic that we were having fun with each other and just relaxing.

As I mention, I don’t have the magic formula my mom had to pull off a perfect mental health day; but mom gave me the guidelines on how to take care of myself regardless of what’s going on in the world or even in my world!

Mental Health Days in my home embodied what is now known as self-care and my mom was the best at it!

Waiting

Waiting…I could be better at this. My waiting game could definitely be improved, a lot!

Now as I wait for direction on how to proceed in my job search, I grow impatient. I developed several excuses of why my impatience is justified.

Seriously, I have debts…enough said. My residence is not my own, therefore, I fail to have my own space. There are personal items that I need to function in daily life…I am an adult. I am supposed to furnish these items and take care of these debts on my own. Trust me when I suggest that I have many reasons to justify my impatience.

BUT! Justification or not, I am in a period of waiting…waiting sucks! My needs are being met during this time so honestly, my justifications for impatience are a bit weak; however, I am struggling (MENTALLY) as I wait.

Patience is one of those things that I can only tend to find when I am teaching, counseling, or advising. Do you notice something about those things? I find patience for OTHERS but rarely for myself. IF someone takes a little longer or even a lot longer to grasp a concept, my patience is beautiful – for a fact, many people would be shocked to know that I have ZERO patience with myself and/or my journey.

I am not sure how I actually completed the doctoral program…it did require a lot of patience, but it was also formulaic. I knew what was next and what had to be achieved in order to reach the final milestone of the program. I need to locate the patience I had with the program as I WAIT for what to do next.

My brain is less foggy since completing the program, so I know that this time of “rest” has been good for me. I put rest in quotes because I’ve never been particularly good at resting. I have a bad habit of filling my rest time with activities, so yeah…it’s not complete rest.

Waiting.

I am able to wait in a long line patiently or even to wait in the waiting room at a medical facility, but waiting to figure out what my next move will be is torturous.

I’ve lived my life filled with plans and now I do not have a plan. Yes, these plans never quite worked out but it was comforting for me to have said plans. Now I do not have a plan and I am working on this whole “living in the present” thing while I wait.

Waiting.

There are several things that I could do during this time. I could easily do a job just because I need the money…but here’s the thing I do not like to leave things without finishing what I started. Also, I really do need to wait until the last of the post-doctoral program brain fog dissipates in the name of self-care.

Waiting sucks but I imagine that soon this transitional time will pay off for me. I have to listen to my intuition, my voice in my head, the higher power, the universe, God, or whatever you may call it so that means that I wait.

Stay tuned…the waiting will be over soon.

Rest required

I have a few chronic illnesses, some that I’ve written about in the past…it doesn’t matter what they are, just know that they exist and they impact every facet of my life.

I recently defended my dissertation (Yay Me!!!) now it is time to focus on job hunting (Why me?) and this is where chronic illness is front and center.

So I’ve lived with these chronic illnesses for many years and I’ve achieved my educational goals…although things never went smoothly…and now I’m exhausted

I have important people to contact, cover letters to compose, and applications to complete…but I’m tired.

I’m not only tired from the arduous process that is a doctoral program…my chronic illnesses are screaming at me to pause temporarily.

My chronic illnesses are suggesting that I breathe, meditate, then rest. Sigh.

As many of you know, application deadlines and all the many things necessary for getting a job fails to account for the fact that your (my) chronic illnesses demand that I rest.

Some of you may even go so far as to say, if I need rest during the application process, I’m likely not able to do the job for which I am applying.

Then there’s others who would say that the PhD process is tedious and the typical person would need a break, so it’s not unusual that I need a break…in the form of a short rest.

The problem I often face as a result of being chronically ill is that I wonder if I’m being lazy or I really need the rest.

Those closest to me suggest that I simply need the rest, but even that’s not always convincing enough to stop my negative self talk

As someone with chronic illnesses, it is hard enough to deal with some outsider suggesting that you are lazy, incompetent and yet many of us, myself included engage in negative self talk when our bodies demand self-care.

I am someone who possesses chronic illnesses, but I’m also more than that. I am someone who needs accommodations, but I’m also more than that. I am more than any identifier I possess…if only I consistently believed that.

Stress induced flare

Ok so here’s the deal, in less than 10 days my dissertation defense will happen and my angst is high

I’m not nervous about what I know as it pertains to my dissertation; but I’m concerned about the what’s next questions that are flooding my mind

This is bad because the illnesses that reside in my body react badly to stress…really bad.

My thoughts are jumbled; I’m frustrated and I’m ready to scream

I must find a way to calm my mind and balance myself.

I must relax or else I won’t make it through my dissertation defense because I’ll be nursing a flare.

Why are my illnesses stress- sensitive ?

Chronic illness identity

Chronic illness warrior, chronic pain survivor, spoonie, chargie, dis-Abled, fighter, and all of the other labels used among individuals who face a myriad of long term illnesses….

It matters little how I refer to myself when I’m at a place where I feel there’s nothing I can do to overcome, conquer whatever my illness has brought to me.

The labels tend to carry little meaning when I’m facing the implications of my illness alone

They matter even less when I’m sitting in yet another physicians or alternative health professionals office and/or waiting room…

So why do I find such comfort in whatever label I choose for the day? Although it seemingly doesn’t change the trajectory of my chronic illness or the acknowledgment of my pain by others?

These labels may have little meaning outside of the communities they create which often transcends an individual’s immediate surroundings.

These labels thrive in cyberspace and it’s easy to see how certain events in the real world are crafted around these labels.

Personally, I’ve found them useful in cyberspace and I’ve enjoyed the disconnect in the connections I’ve created through these labels.

I consider it a disconnect because I only checked into these communities when I felt the desire to…otherwise, I stayed away.

Some years, I was connected to various chronic illness themed communities on a daily basis…I was even an administrator of one such community at one point

But once I received what I needed or at least once my outside support system stabilized, I relied on the amazing community less.

Now, I’m not a part of any particular community of chronic illness individuals. At times, I miss the relational aspects of the communities, I miss the feeling of being a part of something bigger, the feeling of not being alone…but for the most part I don’t miss it enough to immerse myself into any of these communities again.

It became overwhelming as I shared my story, my experiences with so many who could relate…it was sometimes overwhelming to witness the pain and suffering many of those individuals in these groups shared.

Now. I’ll mention various chronic illnesses or pains I endure, but I don’t want to be consumed by it anymore.

My illnesses impact every facet of my life daily…but my needs are different than they were years ago when I had to plug into the communities to maintain a semblance of sanity.

I’m forever grateful for the groups and the amazing people I’ve had a chance to interact with throughout the years of my intense involvement.

Flares

Flares – how appropriate is this word for the unpredictable, destructive way endometriosis and similar chronic pain disorders interrupt your life.

Like a flare of fire even if you avoid looking at it, the heat still makes it known. With endometriosis I often refuse to pay attention to the outrageous pain…yet it continues.

(more…)

Advise for Advice

It’s so easy to find others who to advise you on what to and not to do; but, learning to trust your own judgment is priceless.

Besides obvious markers like the overwhelming genre – self-help! One can look anywhere in the US and find and find advice givers.

Balance is key