Taking good care of yourself is priority one when you live with chronic illness. But it ain’t easy. That’s why I’m redefining what self-care looks like in my own mind.
A year ago I would have told you that self care is all about yoga and meditating and eating healthy food. But this too brought out an ugly truth in me: When I fail to practice yoga and meditate and eat healthy food, I feel that I failed. And that opens up an ugly cycle of self-flagellation (because, I know better, I can do better, I hate myself for not being better…).
Besides, yoga and meditating and healthy food aren’t the only way you can take care of yourself. So today I’m listing some of the non-conventional ways I’ve taken care of myself over the past month. With this list, hopefully you’ll find some new ways to take good care of yourself, too.
- I had a hemorrhoidectomy. I know, ew. But many people suffer from hemorrhoids. I got them when I was pregnant. Post-baby, my OB/GYN said to wait until I was done having kids to have them repaired. That was seven years ago, before I got sick.
- I acknowledged a hard truth. I suffered with those damn hemorrhoids. They were painful and embarrassing and contributed to my ongoing struggle with anemia. By having surgery, I was acknowledging the fact that, 1) I’m 41; and 2) I have a medical condition that causes miscarriages and atypical fetal development; and 3) I’m probably not going to have another.
- I let myself be heartbroken. My dog died. I am not going to give my daughter a little brother or sister. These are two things I’d rather stuff deep down inside with pizza and beer and maybe a few of the 90-some Percocets I was prescribed post-surgery. Instead, I’ve been letting myself grieve. I cry. A lot. I went back to therapy. I whisper soothing sweet nothings to myself. I joke about losing my mind. But in fact, I’m starting to think this is as sane as I’ve been since childhood.
Self-care isn’t a one-size-fits-all routine. We all need to pay better attention to what we need, in the moment we need it. And not be afraid to ask for it, and not be afraid of facing what comes up because of it.
Sometimes self-care is yoga and meditating and eating healthy.
And yes, sometimes it’s having a hemorrhoidectomy.