For many, many years, I was thinking that taking care of myself and my well being (physically as well as mentally) was absolutely selfish in a negative way. That I had to feel bad, guilty even, when I put myself first. So what I did was mostly bending over backwards, pleasing others out of fear to be labeled selfish, useless whatsoever. I would put others’ needs ahead of my own more than I can count. I would feel terrible when I said “no” to an activity or whatever else was asked of me because I wasn’t feeling well enough to be dealing with said activity or was made feel bad when I did not play by the rules and did stuff that was meant for ME.
The consequence of that pattern and behavior was that I was SO busy pleasing others, fulfilling their needs etc that I lost myself in the process. All the way to having anxiety because of this uncertain feeling of having disappointed others. Self care had taken a seat in the very back of the bus. Because how very DARE I do something that is good for me??
It took me many, many years to unlearn this, to strip myself of feeling guilty when I much rather want to spend time on my own as opposed to socializing with others (because you know, I am, after all, an introvert), when I want to do all those things that make me feel good, happy, and which I can gather strength from. There is NO NEED to feel guilty in the very least. On the contrary – self care is VERY important! But alas, I had to understand that part better if I wanted to continue on the long and winding Road to Recovery.
My therapist also said to me a while ago, “You need to take care of yourself much better.”
Once that message hit home and had 100% registered with me and my learning process, I knew that I did not have to be ashamed when I said that something got too much in that moment but that it was my whole body, system, mental wellbeing that decided it needed a break.
The other day, I came across the image above again and once again, things clicked. I have had a really difficult time lately, I withdrew a lot into my shell, was exhausted and barely functioning anymore. Like, there were days when I just couldn’t do anything aside from getting up and dressed and maybe doing one or two small things round here and I was wiped again. That does not mean I am lazy, I was simply too overwhelmed with life, the state of the world we live in and all that jazz. I knew I needed to do stuff in the household, but it was too much for the time being. This is, once again, not a cop-out whatsoever, but this illustrates just how hard depression and other mental health issues can hit.
What I did instead was trying to put myself back together, bit by bit, baby step by baby step. I took care of myself. And I have NO reason to feel ashamed of anything here. Yes, my flat still needs to be tidied up and cleaned. And I will get to that, eventually. But – I took care of my little garden instead. Digging around in the dirt to remove some plants, trimming the hedge, tearing out undergrowth such as ivy made me feel good and confident about myself. I am not saying I all of a sudden have transformed into a gardener, but I have read multiple times that gardening has some kind of meditative effect on people, and after several sessions out there, I can confirm. 🙂 Plus, it’s some kind of workout, too.
Such an important thing in our lives, and yet often neglected for various reasons. Either because you think it can wait or you’re too busy, or others tell you to not be a wimp etc.
But recharging those batteries, doing something that fills one with life again, makes one feel good and happy after a dire time is nothing you should feel ashamed of. Buy the pair of shoes you’ve been coveting for months. Read that book you’ve been wanting to read for a while. Go for a lovely walk in te forest. Travel to a new place or a favorite one. Meet up with a friend and catch up on life. Sink into a lovely bubble bath. Go to your favorite restaurant and order your favorite meal. Do whatever makes you feel good. The important thing is THAT you are doing it, that you’re taking care of yourself and your needs. Your overall well being. And don’t let anyone tell you that this is a selfish act in a negative way. It is not. It’s necessary. We only have this one life. Let’s enjoy it. As much as possible.