When You Have to Cancel Everything To Take Care of Yourself

Thursday, January 23, 2020


People talk a lot about self-care. Heck, I talk a lot about self-care. Everybody loves a bath bomb & lavender essential oils & a solo movie night.

And I've talked, too, about the kind of self-care that comes with true mental health issues - the times when you need to talk a day off work & sleep for hours, or when you need to force yourself to shower, or when all you can do is zone out in front of the TV & at least make sure you eat & drink.

And then there are times when self-care is just about self-maintenance. About not letting yourself drown. About keeping your head above water until a rescue dinghy comes out to grab you & you can breathe easy again. Sometimes your legs hurt & your lungs are burning while you tread water, & self-care is just making sure you don't let the waves take you under.

And that's where I am right now.

I don't want to go into detail here, because this isn't the place for it. Suffice it to say, for starters, that I am OK, truly. Or I will be. I am not in an emergency mental health crisis, or anything like that.

But I am experiencing a sudden medical issue that I did not anticipate, & as we all know, nothing takes you down quite like a sudden medical issues you didn't anticipate. This one happens to come with a lot of emotions, & the pairing of body + brain = a little bit of a tough time.

So I turned on survival mode.

I canceled a work trip to New York City by being extremely honest with my boss. I stepped back from my freelance work, & I told my editor when I needed some extra time on a piece I couldn't finish by deadline. I told a few close friends, as well as a couple of coworkers who can cover for me in my absence without making me feel bad about being unavailable.

I took a day off work & slept until I woke up on my own. I FaceTimed with my mom. I bought new fuzzy pajamas &, yes, a pack of lavender bath bombs & some de-puffing eye gels. I washed my sheets. I ate a pizza & drank a beer alone at my favorite brewery in the middle of the day. I went to bed early & cuddled with my cat & started reading an entirely frivolous novel to distract myself from my concerns.

And in between, I've been working, turning off my chat feature & mostly not checking my email so that I can get things done without having to engage my brain (or myself, really) too much. I've been doing a lot of writing & editing. I'm catching up on my TV shows. I'm resting & healing & just mucking through.

Because sometimes self-care isn't the pretty stuff, the Instagrammable stuff, the smell-good candles & the face masks & the massages. Sometimes self-care is just surviving. And that's OK, too.

Take care of yourselves, friends. I'll be back here soon. 

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