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Self-Care

From the minute you delve into the world of chronic illness you discover self-care. This was a completely new and alien concept to me, when you’ve spent the last 5 years been so busy you barely come into contact with the people you actually live with. Self-care is talked about like it’s the holy grail when it comes to coping with life when you’re sick.
Whenever the topic of self-care came up I instantly felt like it was being suggested to me that I just had to accept living like a grandma. Sometimes, it was spoke about as if drinking camomile tea and having plenty of rest would somehow fix everything. If I’m truthful, this made me angry. Everywhere I turned it explained the importance of relaxing and giving your body the rest it needed. This was not something that appealed to me. Hell was going to have to freeze over before I spent every day watching countdown while knitting. I admit this is partly because I equally suck at both knitting and countdown. My brain still craved to be active and social even if my body wasn’t always so keen on the idea.
When your body doesn’t enable you to work anymore, you quickly feel like you have no purpose. This concern is expressed by a massive part of the chronically ill community as well as by some people I know personally. Whilst on the receiving end of yet another self-care lecture, an OT suggested to me that I needed to fill my days to make my life feel fulfilled. This made sense to me, so I pulled myself out of selective hearing mode to listen up for a change. The suggestion that came next was so patronising it became a running joke amongst my family. She suggested that to gain life fulfilment, I needed to plan in activities each day for example plan to colour in for 2 hours everyday from 3pm-5pm. Yes, at 21 years old, it was being suggested to me that I would feel my life had purpose if I coloured in some pretty pictures each day.
All of these things made me turn my nose up at the idea of providing myself with self-care. If I’m honest with myself I was guilty of doing the exact opposite. I did everything from getting into a new relationship straight out of hospital, when I was still extremely unwell and totally not ready to small things like making plans that I just couldn’t commit too. It was my way of trying to prove to the world that I was “normal” still; when really my body does need more rest than before. That doesn’t mean I have to resign myself to sitting in a chair and watching the world pass me by forever. Self-care can be whatever you want it too to be. For me it’s taking regular naps while everyone else works, that way I’m getting the sleep I need without feeling like I’m missing out. For me self-care is anything I do where I take time out to make myself feel okay; getting my hair done, painting my nails, not rushing my showers on a morning are all examples of how I practice self-care.
Turning my nose up at self-care was a way of denying there was anything wrong which in turn made me more poorly. Giving myself a little more TLC than I used to means I’m then able to live life like I want too. I cannot stress enough the importance of listening to your body whether you’re classed as healthy or not. Take time out for yourself whether its to nurture your physical or mental state. Drink plenty of water, get plenty of sunlight, have a cuppa with friends and take time out to breath. Life can be so physically and mentally demanding that we are so busy we forget the true importance of a little me time.

One thought on “Self-Care

  1. This is your calling Vanessa….. Writing…..and this is your subject….. Write your book and we’ll do everything we can to get it published… XXXXX

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