“You are worth caring for” something that when I was first told this I had the reaction of ‘no I’m not I’ve got other to look after” it was always either them or me, for some reason it felt as though looking after myself meant I was taking that time away from others, mainly my children who will always come first. That stems from the idea that as a woman it is my responsibility alone to make sure everyone else have their needs met, to make sure everything is done, and everything organised. Nothing was ever mentioned about how if you don’t look after yourself you can not look after others properly either. This became apparent as my health, both physical and mental, got worse over time. It took me having a close call with death to make me realise I really need to change this. I had already started working on my mental health years before with various forms of therapy for the different challenges I faced. But physically, I don’t think I had ever even thought about what it was to look after myself. I didn’t even feel as though I deserved being looked after.
The first step for me was telling myself that I am worth caring about, something I tell myself on a daily and I guess it will take some time for me to get use to the idea. There are things that have been proven to help keep you as healthy as you can, physical health effects mental heath, and mental health effects physical health. When you have a mental illness, and a chronic illness trying to balance these two needs constant self monitoring, which in itself can be quite exhausting. Acceptance has to always play a part in it, because without it I sometimes forget that not everything is within my control and I still slip into old unhelpful mind sets.
Treating and accepting the limitations of your physical health can mean different things for different people. For me it is mainly taking my meds and not pushing myself too far. I have a medication organiser, have set alarms to go off at the times that they need to be taken, and it isn’t just the medication prescribed but also any supplements recommend and affordable. Most of them have to be taken around meal times which is a big hurdle of mine. I have a few dietary restrictions and achieving a balanced diet is expensive. Food has always been a daily struggle for me and right now I have a choice, although it isn’t really a choice, between eating food I shouldn’t be at times and not eating at all, so I choose the former. I am also trying to work out a way to make sure I am drinking enough water, I know I feel better when I do but for some reason I avoid it.
When it comes to exercising the dancer in me comes out. I enjoy working out and pushing myself as far as I can. Now I hurt before I even start so I do not know when I have reached my new natural limit so now I have to make sure I time limit myself. Having a play list that has pretty much the same steady beat helps too as does having different play lists for different types of exercise. I have spent time with a PT who “told me off” for falling into old habits, taught me so much about how to exercise in a way that helps my body and not makes it worse. I feel very lucky to of had the chance to do this too because what I was doing and how I was doing it was having the opposite effect.
Then comes sleeping. Or even just resting. As I have mentioned before this is taking some getting use to. Most of the time I do not have a choice when I sleep, but remembering to rest throughout the day no matter what has to be put into the routine I am building up. It will of course require lists and more alarms to remind me.Do you know if there is an app for that? Is there one you recommend? Even if it costs money as I have a feeling that I will be doing this for a long time as I am unable to afford the carer I need.