Archives for posts with tag: self-care first

“E” is also for effort. Sometimes “easy” isn’t within reach. This morning is one of those times. The weekend, so far, has its ups and downs. My head aches today. My arthritis joined the party before I even woke up this morning. My sleep was restless, disturbed, and filled with strange nightmares of failure and inadequacy, and being tangled in dense sticky spiders’ webs. It was not a restful night.

I remind myself to begin again. To stay open to success. To choose. To choose again. To practice good self-care, to practice self-compassion. To treat myself and my partner well in spite of where I find myself this morning. I breathe. Exhale. Let my shoulders relax (again). I acknowledge my pounding headache, and sip my coffee as if the headache doesn’t matter. Later, I’ll pull myself together into some form similar to an adult human being equipped to handle the needs of the day, and go do those things I’m up to doing. For now, I’m here. Thinking my thoughts. Sipping my coffee. Hoping to one day be a much better version of myself than I was yesterday. (Right now, the bar seem relatively low there, so perhaps I do have a shot at that, in spite of how I feel right now?)

…All too human. The anhedonia and ennui are dragging on me a bit. It’s not as bad as despair would be. I make myself fully consider those words as I type them; this truly could be much worse. Another breath, it becomes a sigh. I exhale slowly, deliberately. I let the feelings come and go, observed but not interfered with. Acceptance and awareness are important steps for change.

My coffee grows cold. My thoughts begin an unproductive spiral. I shake it off. It’s time to begin again.

Here it is already Friday. How did the time pass so quickly without notice? Living life, I guess, instead of measuring the minutes and weighing the value of the time involved. I’m okay with that. I hope you are, too.

3 or 4 days into my headache, after a work day of sort of being “half there”, and making a lot of dumb mistakes as I moved through various tasks and ran an errand or two (little stuff, like forgetting to close the cover on the hot tub after I got out, or misplacing a coffee cup in a strange place), my Traveling Partner encouraged me to make an early night of it. I wasn’t certain I could sleep so early, or that I needed sleep, or that sleep would help… but I “wasn’t all there”, as it was, and felt pretty miserable. So. I crashed early, figuring I could read quietly in a quiet dimly lit room, or some such thing.

…I woke abruptly shortly after midnight, with a recollection of conversing with my Traveling Partner sometime after I crashed… was that a dream? That’s what woke me; wondering if that conversation was real, or a fragment of a dream. I still don’t know. I fell back to sleep before I could do more than wonder. I woke again, around 2am, and got up for a few minutes. Drank some water. Realized I didn’t actually care to be awake, yet, and that I was, rather oddly, still sleepy. I went back to bed, only waking when the alarm went off.

Funny how fragile and high-maintenance these sacks of flesh are, is it not? Self-care matters. Giving ourselves time to heal with we’re injured or sick matters. Taking time for real rest matters. All of those things matter more than any household chore or errand. Generally, they even matter more than the jobs we work. (I mean, seriously, if I become so ill or fatigued that I can’t work at all… how important is the job, then? Just saying – not very.)

I sip my coffee making new promises (on top of old promises) to give myself better self-care and more of my own time. There will be verbs involved. Practices. My results will continue to vary. I notice that my coffee cup is empty, the rim cold against my lips. It must be time to begin again. 😉

I spent yesterday focused on self-care. I slept a lot. I also canceled prior plans, rather than expose friends to yet another opportunity to get sick. I drank water. I sipped broth. I soaked in a warm bath. I enjoyed a hot shower. I took a small amount of symptom relieving medication. I ate soup. I stayed home. It was all very dull. I was still sick enough that my most notable companion was the cough that developed during the week. I couldn’t focus very well, and reading just put me to sleep over and over again; sleep was likely what I needed most, anyway.

I slept like hell last night, waking around 1 am, coughing. I was up with that awhile until it settled down, and the next round of symptom relievers kicked in. I went back to bed, and slept badly awhile longer. I woke slowly around 8:00 am, which could have been sleeping in, if I hadn’t been up for 3 hours during the night, coughing.

…So far, I’m not coughing much this morning. This is a sign of real progress. I’m not “over it” yet, so today is a day to continuously remind myself not to “over do it”. The upcoming work week is a short one, and I can’t afford to lose even an hour of productive work time. I feel annoyed to catch myself balancing the needs of my employer against my own, as I consider the upcoming week, but this, too, is a sign of slow recovery. I may be properly well in time for Thanksgiving. I frown when the thought crosses my mind that if I’m not well, I should stay home from that holiday event, and let friends and fam enjoy it without me, rather than risk getting them sick. The thought of doing so saddens me, though it would certainly not be the first time I ditched on a holiday rather than get people sick. I really try not to share contagion.

I look around me this morning, and another sign of wellness as it returns to me is that I am very much aware (and self-conscious about) the disorder that has crept in all around while I have been too sick to care much about any of that. The dishwasher has clean dishes in it left from the last time I ran it, and there are dirty dishes covering the counter by the sink. All the soup mugs and most coffee mugs, many of the glasses, then the bowls, all of the flatware… I am annoyed by the disarray, although I don’t give myself any shit about it; I’ve been sick, it’s to be expected. In the bedroom, the general sense of order is lost to the visual chaos of piles of laundry here and there on the floor, obviously not sorted, just… clothes left where I dropped them. The vanity counter mocked me with the untidy display of cold remedies, an empty tissue box, and the earrings I was wearing when I came home from work early last Tuesday. This is unquestionably the worst my residence has looked… since the last time I was quite sick. This was supposed to be a weekend to clean house, bake for the upcoming holiday, and get some downtime, instead I’ll spend it attempting to prevent myself from “over doing it” on all the shit around me that clearly wants to get done, because if I throw myself into the matter energetically, without mindful self-care, and an awareness that I’ve been quite sick for several days, I’ll find myself exhausted and miserable tomorrow, and possible sicken myself all over again for the week to come.

Adulting is hard. lol

I start a load of laundry, as I head to the shower. No problem with the water pressure, and the load in the wash is cold-water wash, so no concern about cheating myself of hot water. It’s a time management win that doesn’t add a ton of additional effort to my experience. From the shower to the kitchen. Dishes now? Dishes later?

Coffee. Coffee first.

I sit down with a notepad and make notes instead of rushing into a ton of verbs without any organization at all; I’ve probably only got so much energy in me, today. Self-care has to stay at the top of my list. So… I put it there.

There’s something about a list on paper that just works for me.

I sip my coffee and consider what matters most, and start there. Obvious stuff, mostly: do the dishes, put them away, do laundry (already started), and put that away, too, take out the trash, break down the recycling and take that out, too. I stop there. I sip my coffee and stare out at the deck awhile. “Peanuts”, I think, as I watch the leaves shift in the wind beyond the sliding glass door, “I’m almost out of peanuts for the squirrels.” I add “get peanuts” to the list, and then, “get gas”. It’s enough. Could I do more? No idea, yet. This will be enough, though, and even gets me out of the house briefly. I consider whether to visit a local market, too; it would be a pleasant outing, and it is perhaps encouraging of further wellness, just that I am interested in considering the excursion. I make that one a maybe, and finish my coffee.

Pacing myself doesn’t really come very naturally to me. I grew up in a sort of “do something, even if it isn’t right” culture of taking action and initiative. Those aggressive cycles of activity and exhaustion make planning and following through on plans more difficult, though, and taking the approach that action comes ahead of thoughtful decision-making got me (someone with a dis-inhibiting executive function impairing brain injury) into way more trouble than it was worth! It’s not my way, these days. I follow a path of consideration and planning, and reliably careful execution, tempered with comfortable adaptability when plans fail. (My results vary.) Plans do fail. That’s just real. 🙂 No point taking that shit personally. Panic and drama are not welcome.

The wind is blowing furiously today. I watch the leaves skitter across the deck, even being lifted from the damp pile of reds and golds back into the air to twirl and drift back down. Autumn. I do love this season. It is my favorite. I’m tempted to take a short hike today. I correct myself to consider only a short walk, instead. Even that might be a bit of a stretch. I sigh quietly; it’s hard to pace myself. The moment I begin feeling better I want to race out into the world in a flurry of activity. It’s a poor choice. I lead my thoughts back to my list, and my more modest plan for the day. It’ll still be autumn next weekend. 🙂

I finish my coffee, and prepare to begin again. The day unfolds ahead of me, built on a gentle plan, and my reminder that self-care is still my highest priority.

I’m sipping my coffee and feeling vaguely guilty about being sick, which is, to say the least, just fucking dumb. I mean to say, it only comes up when associated with the potential that being sick will cause me to fall short of someone else’s expectations, or potentially result in the failure to tick off boxes on someone else’s agenda than the important matter immediately at hand; getting over being sick.

…I’d ideally like to survive all my experiences…

If this were the weekend, I’d certainly be annoyed to spend it being sick, but there would be no guilt or anxiety involved at all. I’d just be down sick, and doing my best to take care of myself. I struggle with that idea when work is involved. It’s weird and counter-productive (from the perspective of taking care of myself).

I woke feeling worse than yesterday, although generally speaking yesterday actually mostly felt better than the day before. The cold or whatever that this is has begun settling into my chest. By midday yesterday, I’d begun to develop an annoying dry cough. I started losing my voice intermittently, before losing it altogether by evening. I woke several times during the night, and slept restlessly, waking myself from coughing. Ah, but I can work from home! 🙂 Shit. How is this supposed to work, in practice? Am I really up for it, or am I expending limited life force on a slow march to eventually landing in the ER with something worse? I go back and forth with myself… work from home? (Don’t be such a drama queen – it’s just a fucking cold!) Don’t work at all and just call out? (You don’t get to tell me what my experience is like! You just don’t even know what I’m going through! Shrew. What if I’m literally dying?) Being sick does tend to make adulting much more challenging. (You’re not dying. Make another cup of tea and get on with things.) Choices. Decisions. Actions. Every step is a challenge, and I’m sick and I just don’t even want to bother.

…This morning’s illness-related ire would rise to the level of a childish tantrum, only I am simply too sick to expend that kind of energy on literally anything that isn’t coughing… So… there’s that.

…And, to be fair, there’s also this; being sick at home presents a small number of pleasant distractions in the form of autumn visitors to the deck.

A fit of coughing interrupts my writing, and I also manage to spill fresh hot coffee all over myself. I start crying over spilled coffee, and my emotional volatility erupts unpleasantly into that tantrum I didn’t think I had energy for. Huh. I guess I did after all. Tears turn briefly to hysteria – and laughter – and then, for some bonus fun, I start choking on sinus drainage and phlegm as the Mucinex I took when I got up finally starts doing its thing. Gross. I’m a mess. I walk away from the writing and head to the shower; if nothing else, a hot shower and clean clothes will feel better.

I come back to my writing refreshed, and still uncertain how much capability for work I’ve really, honestly, fairly, frankly, legitimately do have – would I be better off calling out and going back to bed? The titular question is rhetorical; our willingness to exploit ourselves for someone else’s gain (generally an employer) has a long and fairly vile history. We yield to it mostly willingly (even defending the notion, generation after generation) after years of brain-washing, repetition, and programming that the primary goal (and obligation) of adulthood is “gainful employment”.

My brain quickly fills my thoughts with reminders of all the shit on my calendar, and all the shit in my inbox, and all the shit I want to get done because it absolutely needs to get done… “you can’t afford not to work”, the rallying cry of exploitation. Fuck. I do actually have a lot of stuff to do – and no back up on a lot of it. I settle on “doing what I can” and balancing that with attempting to also take care of myself as well as I am able to. I don’t know what this choice looks like in practice. Time to start figuring that out.

I guess I’ll begin again. 🙂

 

…I ended up calling out, and going back to bed. It was the wiser choice, if somewhat uncomfortable.