Your New Year’s Resolution Should be Self-Care and This is the Reason Why.
Over the holidays I read four Facebook status updates from Mothers telling a story about how they ended up in the hospital because they should have “taken better care of themselves” or “noticed” the signs before being rushed to the ER. I am not exaggerating, FOUR separate stories about this. I am so proud of these ladies for telling their story but it had me thinking, how many of us are ignoring signs that could eventually lead to our demise? I knew I wanted to write about health come the New Year but after reading these stories, I knew it was important to write about Self-Care – something I completely ignored prior to being taken to the hospital in 2017. Whether you are single or married, man or woman, child or adult, if all of us took a little more time for ourselves, the world would be healthier.
In talking about my story, there are a few common questions: Have you always had anxiety?, When did you know it was depression?, and What were the signs? The answer is there were multiple signs I ignored. I was lonely, constantly worried about small things, and isolated myself in order to be with my son 100% of the time when my husband was working. I can also tell you the exact day my anxiety turned into depression, I knew the moment I woke up, something had switched in my body and I felt my soul turn black. If any of you are dealing with an extreme amount of anxiety, feelings of being overwhelmed, loneliness, intrusive thoughts, OCD, etc., stop for a second and read below because I can almost guarantee you, if you don’t look at the signs now, those feelings will turn into something bigger. For me, that was depression, and let me try to explain what it feels like to live in a day of anxiety-induced depression:
At 6:15am I hear my children start to stir and instantly have a pit in my stomach about how I will handle the day. In a matter of seconds, my brain fires off thoughts of inadequacy, hopelessness, sadness, and the feeling of joy being ripped from my body. I can feel a sensation of ants crawling all over my body and I can’t get them off of me. After getting out of bed and struggling to put one foot in front of the other, I somehow manage to get breakfast on the table and I excuse myself to the restroom for a moment alone. While there, tears rush to my eyes and intrusive thoughts take over my mind: why am I their mother? I am not capable. I can not do this. How will I survive this feeling? After the 5 minutes alone, I once again have to play the role of mother while my husband gets ready for work. In these precious moments during the day where I should feel so much joy and pride at my son riding a bike, my daughter smiling for the first time, my husband landing a deal that helps us pay next year’s mortgage, you may as well have tied strings to each side of my lips so I could force a smile. Throughout the day more intrusive thoughts come and go: “Is this my life? I am so lonely, get me out of here, I am not doing a good job, no one understands.” Hours pass, the tears come and go, forced smiles enter and exit at various points and by the time 6pm comes, a small number of those fire ants have left my body and a teeny, tiny amount of pride enters because I have made it through the day. The silver lining – sleep. So I sleep… and then 6:15am comes again in a matter of – what feels like – seconds and my insides turn black in a deep, dark pit all over again. It’s like Groundhogs day where I am drowning in a sea of water and just as I am about to take a breath of air, I get swallowed by the undercurrent.
Everyone out there dealing with any kind of anxiety or if you feel your body isn’t working properly, I am begging of you… Stop. Take time for yourself. Practice self-care. Try and dig to the root of your issue. Do you need to talk to your doctor if there is a chemical imbalance? Do your symptoms run in the family? If so, is medication the right path? Get a physical. Are you getting harassed at work? At home? Are you happy with yourself, at work, at home, in your relationship? Are you lonely? Do you have a tribe of people around you, if not, why not? Almost all anxiety and health issues stem from somewhere. Think hard about moments in your life – has there been any trauma or PTSD from past events? Those events can be big or small. If you need therapy, schedule an appointment, what’s the harm in talking to someone? Check your health insurance plan, most therapists take insurance. Too embarrassed or don’t have time? Use a therapy app. Read a book on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Journal about your thoughts. Hire a babysitter. If you can’t afford a sitter, take turns with your spouse, partner, or babysit swap with a friend who has kids. Wake up 30 minutes earlier to work-out, meditate, repeat a positive mantra. Walk barefoot in the grass. Get outside. If you had one extra hour each day for yourself with no guilt attached, what would you do with that time? Once you figure that out, do one of those things each week.
I think what I am trying to say is, There. Are. Options. You will find that so many people are there to help. People want to help and the more you talk about it, the more your family and friends will offer their help. Don’t be embarrassed. Tell your story. For the love of God, how can you expect your family to be happy and healthy if you are not happy and healthy? Getting healthy will be a generational gift. And as trite as this may sound, I have been there. Some days, even some weeks are still a battle, but I am fighting. And I’m pretty sure I deserve a big gold star for that because taking care of myself and practicing self-care is the most important for my family and me.