I have a friend who introduced me to the term "Self Care." It is a good concept, one I need to heed. Each of us has different needs, needs that only we know. I think many of us, me, for example, are very good at ignoring needs, pressing forward despite fatigue, aches, pains, stress, lack of sleep. Although I am very good at listening to my body and brain, I am not always good at hearing what it is telling me. At least when it is telling me to slow down, rest, take it easy. I don't do well with "take it easy."
Because of my tendency to often push past the point of fatigue and excess, I do need to be more cognitive of other forms of "Self Care." In the last few weeks I have felt myself moving at a steady pace towards a meltdown, a dance with melancholy, a glimpse into the abyss, the return of my demons. It is a combination of many things, including the pressure to be all things to all people, and taking on a physical workload that would challenge someone half my age. But I take it willingly... take it on the chin, occasionally. This is where I need to take my own Self Care seriously.
I know for a fact that I will not get enough sleep on almost any given night. I know that I will push myself physically, far beyond the point of being achy and short tempered. Lately I have had moments when I feel as if I could fall asleep standing, even in the middle of a workout. I have also had several episodes of a sudden wave of pressure/pain that flows from the base of my neck, across my shoulders and down my arms all the way to my fingertips. A wave of fatigue that saps all the strength and energy from my muscles, leaving my arms feeling like tingling lumps of clay. The third episode was so weird and uncomfortable that for a brief moment I wondered if I was having a heart attack. I had a quick vision of Cap'n Eddie pulling into my driveway in our Rescue Rig, coming through the door with the AED and oxygen kit, saying, in his gravelly but kind voice, "Hey Kid, what the hell is going on?" I felt my pulse, strong, slow and steady, as usual. Not a heart attack. I googled the symptoms and found a whole forum discussion going back to 2011 of people with the identical symptoms, but never a single diagnosis even after every test on the planet. Most chalked it up to over-use and nerve inflammation. I'm cool with that. Not a heart attack, not MS, not Lupus, "Not A Tumor."
Okay, back to Self Care. Like I said, I am inclined to not know when to stop. I can't help it, it is genetic. You should meet my Mom. There is a woman who does not know how to slow down. At 75 she can damn near outwork me. She and I have done some jobs together, lately doing a lot of salvage. I have to make her take it a bit easy, I remind her, "Mom, you are the brains, I am the brawn." I have only really been this way the last 5 years or so (I credit reclaiming my life, dumping toxic shit, and taking control of my destiny), she has been this way as long as I can remember. Dear gods I am rambling.
Self Care. I know that if I am not getting enough rest that I need to make sure my nutrition and fitness are on track. Yes, I know that "not enough rest" and "fitness" seem to be a bit at odds, but honestly, I need my workouts. I need to keep my body fit, relatively flexible, and trained. Workouts are what always save me from the darkness that tries to encroach with seasonal regularity. If I am not working out daily, I am not happy with myself. It is my drug, my primary antidepressant. I keep the temple strong to protect the spirit within.
When I am under strain it is all to easy to let my eating habits slide. True, I don't keep undesirable food in my house. But I damn sure keep really good chocolate, well-aged cheese, and I bake like a goddess. All of which are great in moderation... In Moderation. My idea of moderation has been slightly askew these last few weeks.
Do I sound a bit obsessive. Yeah, just a bit. But I know how to keep myself on track, and sometimes it is a very delicate line, a mere tightrope. I have felt the darkness peering over my shoulder, heard my demons' sibilant whispers. Time to take a stand, here now, before they can get even a toehold. Self Care tops the list of weaponry. Regain my focus, continue my training, dial in the nutrition, add appropriate supplements. Get Brain, Body, and Spirit all dancing to the same rhythm instead of haring off in all directions.
Self Care means not only listening to Brain, Body, and Spirit but actually hearing what they are telling me. We know what we need, what keeps us stable and happy. Self Care.