I’m Not Taking Good Care of Myself. This Was My First Clue.

Have you ever had one of those poor mental health days, one in which you find yourself driving homeCarie Sherman from Target with a load of bags that, later in the day, you’ll angst over, both in terms of the decisions you made and the money you spent; a day in which you nearly drown from a sudden downpour of tears; a day in which your brain won’t shut off and you obsess over every thought that pops into your consciousness, such as why you’re so unhappy (when you have so very much to grateful for) and how much you have to do and how you’ll never get it done and why so many people in this world have so little and how people can be so filled with hate and why you still get acne despite nearly 40 years of living on this planet?

A day in which you force a smile yet you allow yourself to dive deep into intrusive thoughts that range from whether you need Botox to why your dog has to get old to wondering if your sister is angry with you over a comment you made that was meant to be flippant and self-deprecating but later ruminations reveal may have been perceived as insensitive?

A day in which you’re certain your stomach, which is particularly sensitive to your emotional well-being, has teamed up with your autoimmune disorder to stage a hostile takeover?

A day in which you’re certain if you look at said stomach, it will resemble a snake that’s just eaten a rat, but when you glance you see nothing but a well-insulated gut, which triggers your anxiety over the extra pounds you’re carrying, anxiety that is not at all relieved by unbuttoning your jeans?

A day that, by the time you pull into your driveway, you forget the unbuttoning and give your neighbors a show of your ample backside as you reach across the car seat to wrestle with those Target bags that by now you’re sure you’ll return because you pick out terrible gifts and Why-Oh-Why did you spend so much on groceries when you could have easily braved Wal-Mart and spent far less?

A day in which you tweak your shoulder as you lift those stupid bags onto your kitchen counter?

A day in which you bark at your loving partner, about what you can’t remember, but who, bless his heart, sees you’re not your normal happy self and tells you to sit while he starts you a hot bath?

A day in which the barrage of your brooding thoughts gnaws and nags until you know you must make it stop! so you try deep breaths and counting those breaths but you can only count to 5 before your brain again takes center stage to berate you for not walking the dog and missing your great aunt’s funeral and telling your daughter she ate all her Swedish Fish when, in fact, you spent the greater part of last night devouring everything in your pantry with high fructose corn syrup on the label?

Have you ever had one of those poor mental health days?

A Break from My Self Indulgent Drama

Post hot bath, post nap, post breakdown, I recognize why I feel like shit: I’m not taking good care of myself.

So today’s “to do” list includes: Yoga (gentle), quiet time, hot tea, Epsom salt bath, easy walks in sunshine, chat with a friend, take breaks, read a good book. Etcetera; etcetera.

I hope my ranting and raving sounds nothing like your internal monologue. But in case they do, it’s probably time to slow down and take care of you. And in case you don’t think you need to practice self care or self care doesn’t come easily to you or you haven’t stopped to take a breath in years so you don’t even recognize you need self care, check this out:

You Feel Like Shit: An Interactive Self Care Guide

Now then. What are you waiting for? The holidays and all the fun and stress and worry and excitement they bring are coming. It’s a great time to remember how to be good to you.


Four Ways to Have More Fun—Despite Lupus

After months of working from various coffee shops, the construction in my home office is Carie Shermancomplete and I’m back at my desk. I’d forgotten how pretty my view is. But the best part? Our neighbors have a new puppy. And oh boy does that puppy know how to have a blast.

He doesn’t have a ton of toys at his disposal, but he takes what he has and he runs with it. He runs in circles. He throws his own ball and catches it. He rolls around on the ground and chases the falling leaves. He plays and plays and plays and plays. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much.

The little guy has made me think … what am I doing during my day that’s truly just for fun?

My favorite life coach, Martha Beck said this about fun: “Having fun is not a diversion from a successful life; it is the pathway to it.”

I’m all for that. But fun is usually the last thing on my list. So for this post, I brainstormed ways to have more fun without exhausting myself.

Four Ways to Add More Play to Your Life

1. Find creative ways to make the mundane more enjoyable. When your body hurts, exercise can be a chore. But my rheumatologist insists I exercise to the best of my ability. Using the puppy as an example of fun exercise, I came up with this: I could join the puppy in the backyard. I could rake leaves then jump into them. I could dance to my favorite song. Heck, I could run like Phoebe.

2. Ask yourself, how would my inner child approach this task? I don’t remember much about my childhood (thanks, brain fog. And college). But I have a child and know what motivates her. Recently, she loves being timed as she does a task. So this afternoon when I fold laundry, I’ll set a timer instead of my normal activity of spacing out and watching reruns. Bonus: The quicker the chores are done, the quicker I can move on to a task I truly enjoy.

3. Do what you want to do rather than what you have to do. I come from farm folk, and my need to get what NEEDS done always comes first. I put this to the test this morning, forgoing the pile of work that awaited me. I sat down and ate breakfast instead of getting crumbs stuck in my keyboard. I soaked in the bath instead of taking a rushed shower. I listened—really listened—to one of my favorite songs. Although I nearly panicked when I finally sat at the computer and saw the time, I got my work done. Dare I say that I worked more efficiently? I definitely spent less time traveling down various internet rabbit holes.

4. Look with curiosity at, well, everything! My daughter is five. Next to mommy, the word I hear most often is why. It’s seriously distressing to realize how little I know about things like clouds and rainbows. But her questions usually lead us to something fun. Another great question is what if? Recently I asked her how she wanted to spend her day. Her reply? Go to Hawaii. (I love her big dreams!) Rather than a flat no, I asked her what if we went to the library to find a book about Hawaii. It was a great way to spend a rainy day together stuck here in Colorado.

When I’m having fun, I always feel better. I encourage you to channel your inner puppy. Adventure awaits!


When Fashion Hurts

I love clothes. I follow fashion blogs and pour over my favorite catalogs and websites like someCarie Sherman people read the news. I use services like Stitch Fix to watch What Not to Wear. Over the years, and especially after I got sick, I became a big believer in having a small, versatile wardrobe in which I can honestly say I LOVE every piece in it.

As such, when I shop, I look for clothes that look great for client meetings or are perfect for girl’s night. I look for clothes that express who I am and look just as good at the park playing with my bug or going to dinner with my husband.

In short, I shop for things that happen, oh, about 3-5 times per month. Total.

What’s happening the rest of the month?

I’m home. On good days, that means writing. On bad days, that means lounging. Both require the utmost comfort.

Ouch

In general, clothes really hurt my body. I’m not sure if it’s the fibromyalgia or the autoimmune issues, but there are days that anything I put on physically hurts. Fabric hurts my skin, jewelry is too heavy, it’s too hard to pull something on/off, waistbands turn into a python.

And let’s not even talk undergarments. My bras are trying to kill me.

But apparently, my other clothes wish me dead as well. Just this morning, I fell down. Why? Because my toe got caught in a hole in the ratty Christmas PJ pants I wear regardless of the season.

I suddenly realized my wardrobe’s duality. I inventoried the clothes I spend the most time in. Here is what I found:

• Two Christmas-print PJ pants– one of which is two sizes too big
• 1 pair of yoga pants that used to be black and are now covered with bleach stains
• 1 pair of grey yoga pants with a ripped pocket
• Three sports bras that are too big
• One sports bra that my mom bought me in 1992 (seriously)
• Two pairs of capri sweats that are identical but can only be worn with a tucked in tank because the seams irritate my skin
• A spring break ‘98 tshirt, size XXL
• T-shirts with assorted stains–most of which I received for free–many of which have holes
• A pair of leggings that are too small so I cut the seams to allow for breathing
• My sister’s high school gym shorts

My Post Inventory Thoughts

In the order they popped in my head:

1. My poor husband
2. I’m gross
3. This can’t be healthy
4. It’s time to do something about this
5. This could be a form of mental illness
6. My poor husband

What the Experts Say

Not surprisingly, lots of people have lots to say on the topic of how you dress. Here are a few that resonated.

• “Our clothes make a huge difference to what people think about us – and without us knowing or in ways we couldn’t even imagine.” Now, I make sure that other people (i.e., people who don’t live in my home) perceive me in a certain way. But what is it saying about me that I allow myself to look so crappy, day after day, in my home–and in particular, when I’m sick?
• “… dressing in nicer clothes makes you feel better.” This study relates to depression. Which, as you know, I struggle with. On days when I feel good physically, I feel good mentally. But I wonder how often wearing Christmas PJs in July and a sports bra that could legally buy alcohol contributes to a downward spiral?
• “… clothes can change the way you think.” I have to be honest. Every single thing I’ve ever written in this blog that reflects joy and learning and growth were written on days when I wasn’t feeling like crap. Despite this cultivated image of positivity, I spend every sick day blaming myself and overanalyzing what I’ve done wrong and hating myself for not being able to control my symptoms better. A change in thinking is very much needed.

Conclusions

Feeling sick is bad enough. Letting myself look as bad as I feel doesn’t help.

I need a cute sick wardrobe. One that feels good if my skin hurts and is easy to put on and can accommodate hot flashes and bloated stomachs and days entirely spent horizontal. And I need to toss anything that I wore before I got married 10 years ago,* as well as things with dangerous holes and stains of unknown origin.

What about you? Do you dress like a slob when you’re sick on the couch? Are your PJs tattered? Are your workout clothes older than the current century?

If you answered yes, let’s make a pact to get our sick $hit together and find cute comfies.

Now, where to start? (Gladly accepting suggestions in the comments below!)

*Note to hubby, if you ever happen to read this: I can part with almost anything. But I refuse to part with my spring break t-shirt. So don’t even ask.