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Self-care: A love story for the new year

Self-care – This was the word I chose as my one-word resolution for the new year. I resolved that I would actually and truly take care of myself this year because I need it. It’s not that I just want it..nope…I truly need it.

So here it is, one month into the new year and it seems like the right time for an update on how my self-care has been going.

I have been doing self-care stuff that I am not particularly fond of that I have mentioned before…like quitting my jobs, getting a rolly backpack, a cushion to sit on during class, the Keto IC diet, migraine glasses, alkaline water and diet, and so on. I don’t love doing all of these things, but I am doing them because they are the right thing for me and my body at this time. I make sure to take time out to rest, even though I feel like I should be doing something productive like school work…because…grad school.

So while other people out in the world might be floundering and forgetting their New Year’s resolutions right about now… I am thriving with mine. I can only hope that will continue to thrive and hold true to mine, even if I feel resistant against some of the stuff I am doing. I have to remember that I am doing it because it is best for my health at this time.

So yes… I have resigned myself to this. I have not decided if I can resign myself to this forever. I have moments where I get stubborn about it and decide to resist my inner self-care voice. For example, one huge challenge I have is the steps in Aaron‘s apartment building…they are very steep and difficult for me to go up and down. The other day I arrived and wanted to take all my stuff up, my school stuff and my sleepover bag. So I did that. Huge mistake. The whole time this was going through my mind… I can do this. I am a normal person. Normal people can carry some bags up some stairs. I used to be able to carry these bags up these stairs. I am normal. I am normal. I was about one-fourth of the way up the stairs when I came to my senses and remembered….I’m not normal. But it was too late. I had to keep going. So I decided to power through.  My second huge mistake of the day. Which at that point was the only way I was getting up the stairs because if I stopped for even a second I wouldn’t be able to get moving again.

By the time I got to the top I was beyond exhausted. And was completely ready to drop to the ground. That was not a good or wise self-care moment. Usually, I do much better than that. But there are just some times when I try to forget I am chronically ill and try to remember what it’s like to be normal Rachel again. I have to learn to let go of that. Self-care is remembering that I am not that Rachel anymore. And some self-love would be telling myself it’s okay that you aren’t that Rachel anymore, you are still Rachel. You are growing and evolving. Love yourself. Self-love is a part of self-care but it’s much harder to do.

And yes, as the title of this blog post says, this is a love story. You have to love yourself when you are doing intensive self-care. And I am learning to love myself through self-care. -Rachel Bob

It’s very difficult to love my body when it is changing in ways that I cannot comprehend. It’s difficult to love my body when it pains me daily and honestly often leaves me feeling betrayed. But part of self-care is not focusing on that too much because I can’t harp on that self-hate/dislike/whatever it is or it will just hurt me further. That’s where priorities come in.

Part of self-care is prioritizing. I have to really look at my life and my priorities and see what is important and what is excess. Anything that is excess will basically be cut from the to do list because I don’t have the energy for it. I have very limited energy and therefore I have to prioritize my life. My number one priority right now? (you might be able to guess this one) myself. And then there is grad school, my family which includes my mom, my four cats, Aaron and Reid, my support system and my blog.

It isn’t easy to take care of yourself. Anyone with a cat (dog/other pet) or a child… or in my case both… knows the struggle of being able to get some self-care time when you have all of these little people who constantly want and need your attention. When I’m at home and try to take a bath. I have no less than two cats in the bathroom with me at all times…usually they are telling me how much they need to be in the tub and that I should drain the water so they can do that. Or they are telling me how badly they need me to pet them. When I’m at Aaron’s, Reid is in constant need of attention which is to be expected because he is six years old.

But despite all the road blocks, and that is all they are…road blocks. I have to persevere and keep trying until I find success with my self-care. So when I do get to take care of myself what kind of stuff am I trying to do?

  • Remembering to breathe….2..3..4..
  • Sleep. I can’t emphasize enough how important sleep is to me (not just me), so I’ll say it again in all caps…SLEEP!!!  Sleep is the time for our bodies to rest and repair. It’s important. Getting a good 7-9 hours of sleep can be a challenge but it’s worthwhile if you’re on the self-care plan like me.
  • Taking long baths with Epsom salts and baking soda. I just bought Magnesium flakes which I haven’t used just yet but I am looking forward to trying.
  • Making time to see my friends who support me. Last semester I was so overwhelmed with school and pain that I never saw my friends and I think that was a huge mistake on my part. So now I am actively making sure to see my friends. Like my bestie, Becca…pre-grad school we hung out every Sunday. But once grad school hit we didn’t see each other for months and months. I think that only hurt my health more. So now I decided we will see each other at least every two weeks.
  • Learning how to cook for and feed myself in a healthy way that fits my needs and my diet
  • Taking a break and just resting – This can make all the difference between being in a lot of pain or being in more bearable pain.
  • Learning to tell people what I need – This is a big one. I think this is one that a lot of people with chronic illness struggle with. We don’t want to be seen as needy or a burden so we don’t tell people what we need. Or we think that by asking for something we are asking too much. Like when the lights go on and off suddenly that impacts my migraines. I get bright flashing lights in my eyes, it’s disorienting and I have trouble seeing. I have learned to ask people to let me know when they will turn the lights on and off. I didn’t used to do that because I thought it was bothersome and too much effort for the other person. I would just try to live with it, but why? It’s not that much extra work for them to be like Hey Rachel, close your eyes. Boom…done. And it saves me a lot of pain, which is always nice.

Self-care is so important for everyone, but especially those of us who are chronically ill. We need to take care of ourselves or we will not be able to function and participate in the daily life. Everything I do now is for the future. Is it hard? heck yea it is. Even with the label of self-care, it is still a challenge that I struggle with every day and sometimes I do it begrudgingly. But you know what… that’s okay. As long as I try to take care of myself …that’s all that matters.

 

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