Disclaimer: these are my opinions, as well as my own personal experiences
Self care is an art form. Being able to find something that can make you forget about the worries that you were stressing about can be a major release and relief on someone’s mental, spiritual, and even physical self. Everyone goes through something, no matter how trivial and no matter how ridiculous.
Life interrupts people in many different ways, and most times we don’t have the time to prepare for them. During this week, almost all of my homework assignments deleted itself due to a malfunction that occurred on my computer. I had three projects due at 11:59 that night. As I searched through the countless files on my Dell, I began to cry. Actually no, it didn’t start off as crying. It began as laughter. I was laughing at the fact this would have to happen the day everything had to be due. Then, the laughter turned hysterical, as if someone had told me one of the funniest jokes that I had ever heard. Tears began to stream down my face as they rolled in between my computer keys. The laughs became muffled, and then they turned into sobs. All of my hard work was lost. It’s okay to cry; crying is self care by itself. But, at some point, you’re gonna have to wipe away your tears and move forward.
I ended up missing my classes, sitting down on my couch, and redoing all my homework to the best of my ability. For hours I typed. My fingers ached and my eyes began to fall, but eventually…I got my work done. On top of that, I had work to go to, and then a meeting right after that. I was a mess dragging myself back into my apartment. I threw my bags down and nearly sunk to the floor from the exhaustion that I felt. I needed to recharge. I needed to refuel. I ran a shower at around 8:30 pm, sat my phone down on the bathroom sink as it played Mama’s Gun, and sang to my hearts content. The walls were thin, so I’m pretty sure the people next to me could hear me tell the bag lady to pack lightly. After that, I read a chapter from a book I had bought the semester prior at a book store in town. I meditated, and then pulled out my notebook to manifest how I wanted the rest of the week to go. I needed that time to wind down and gather myself together. That helped me, but for that time being.
Various ways on how to indulge in self care:
Meditation, yoga, cooking…all those things can be essential to your self care routine, but that’s not all self care is. Self care can be bubble baths with rose petals in the water or getting your nails painted or even just taking a nap, but this will only get you so far. Not to go into great detail, but my second semester my freshman year was probably one of the hardest times of my life. I’m not talking about slight fatigue or exhaustion…I didn’t know if I wanted to live anymore. It’s still touchy to talk about, so I’ll leave it at that, but just know that during that time, how I was coping was not the way I should have. Watching Netflix wasn’t going to save me from wanting to take my life (no matter how good the first season of Stranger Things was). I understand missing a day of class to calm yourself, but I would miss weeks! When the pain gets to be too much, buying yourself some Chick-fil-A isn’t going to just make all the trauma and suffering magically disappear. If it did, I’d be wolfing down waffle fries as we speak. You need to differentiate when self care is appropriate, and when self help needs to take the reigns.
Healing comes in many professional forms if you can afford them (a topic that I will discuss at a later date). There are mental health counselors, psychologists, social workers and so on and so forth. If need be, psychiatrists; they’re equipped to prescribe medication for more serious cases. If I had pinpointed my change in behavior and had actually gotten some help earlier on, I might have been able to avoid the turmoil that came afterwards, or at least deal with it better. There are things that I will never be able to forget, but there will always be a way to heal somehow.
I ended up going to therapy over the summer. I am not going to lie, I did not want to do it…at all! Thinking about it, it’s somewhat hypocritical. I want others to get the help they need and deserve, but I didn’t want it for myself. I was scared. I was scared of being told that there might actually be something wrong with me. It’s intimidating at first. It took me some getting used to. The counselors even told me that I engaged in a lot of self care, but that my actual healing process seemed to be lackluster. I didn’t put in any importance or effort on the progress I wanted to make in the long run, I kept relying on temporary fixes to numb me.
Every day, I would sit down and listen to people share their stories. I’d sit back and think about why I’m here and would ask myself if this was necessary. I would go through the CBT and DBT exercises and worksheets while reciting positive affirmation mantras. I would engage in conversation when the physicians wanted to go into one on one sessions. It seemed extraneous, but as each morning came, I grew to realize what the purpose of this was and why I needed to be here.
Am I fully healed? No. Will I ever stop partaking in the act of self care? Absolutely not. It’s become a vital part of me not dropping out of college. With what I have learned, I know that it’s okay to take some time and do something special for yourself, but you’re doing a real disservice if you ignore what’s really bothering you. Everyone deserves to heal.