My response to self-care articles

flat,1000x1000,075,f.u1As I have my laptop set to the lowest brightness and my lights in my house are off, blinds are drawn and I’ve called into work that I’m unable to make it today…. I’m home alone with just my animals keeping me company today. This all seems so familiar. A familiar kind of dread creeped up in me when the dizziness, pain and nausea started yesterday. Life changes, the constant up and down and down and up in weather… my body was bound to have enough. Days like today, everything just seems big and overwhelming (even things like what blanket should I use). On days like today I spend my day trying to make my world small again, to make it manageable, so I can focus on one item at a time.

I usually forget about the self-care part of things and only worry about what everyone around me needs. That’s part of what leads me to these break-downs I imagine. Caring for everyone around me.

Don’t even ask what I’ve eaten in the last week. In the midst of battling my migraine I tend to either eat nothing at all, just what I’m being made to eat, which usually is the bare minimum because I can’t stomach anything, or random things like chocolate, toast, donuts etc (nothing healthy or trigger friendly). And then mid migraine for some reason my brain focuses on what I have to do that day, so I zero in on needing to clean and lay myself out completely OR I am so done already that I simply can’t move off the couch at all. Those are the days where I struggle to decide if I do the dishes or take a shower.

Then when I’ve given up on trying to rest, I browse Facebook, type or find articles to read. There is a ton of ways to better myself as it turns out. The information online is endless. Twenty ways to loose your belly flab. Ten days to a better, calmer you. And here I think: 10 more emails to help me feel even more guilty about this day at home.

My normal routine used to be: hop out of bed, race through my day and voila start over. Now my days look very different: Before I am even fully conscious I perform my morning scan of my body for pain symptoms. Does my head hurt, throb or in any way give off signals that today is going to have to be a minimal trigger day? What about signs of nausea, neck pain or dizziness? I take stock of any signs of warnings of  potential triggers of an impending migraine that I may have to battle. It is a silent daily battle that I have hour by hour to see if I’m going to be OK. It used to never be this way. All day long I unconsciously (often consciously) check myself : Will this push me over the edge, or will I be OK if I make this decision?

I had been doing so well for so many months that I think I almost forgot about my condition. That I forgot that I need to take care of me too and that I do have this condition, regardless of how many “good” days may be in between, if I stack the triggers like a pile of unevenly stacked books, they will tumble and crash down. I can no longer simply just go morning to night, I have to stop in between or the attacks will get worse by the day. Despite how guilty I feel with each self-care ritual, I have to take care of me too in between.  We all need to do this, whether we have chronic health problems or not, or we will burn out. And so thankfully, today as I sit here because life slowed my butt right down again, even though it hurts like an ice-pick in the eye (no pun intended), back to reality.

My self help rituals and realities aren’t very fancy… they used to be and I even was writing about them and now this book has been sitting there untouched due to life getting in the way and me not being able to spend prolonged periods in front of the screen.

  • I have chronic VM. Sometimes I try to forget it or downplay it (usually I downplay it). I don’t make excuses for it and I don’t whine about it but it’s real.
  • Some things simply can’t be solved. Accepting that is healing.
  • In order to live a full life I got treatment, I’m on medication, continue my research, stay in touch with my Doctor. Often this scares me. But still it’s self-care.
  • My health is up and down. Usually it’s up now but that doesn’t mean I’ll always feel gross now.
  • Accepting that I’m not always going to feel up to getting dressed up and done up. This doesn’t mean I’m sloppy, it simply means I’m reserving my energy.
  • Knowing that some days I simply won’t be able to make a full dinner and we simply will have pizza. This doesn’t mean I’m lazy.
  • I cannot predict my need for rest. There is lots of nights I don’t sleep because of my VM, and it makes sense that my need to sleep is real, not a sign of laziness. Resting is self-care.
  • Doing Meditation to bring me back to my center & help make my world a little smaller.
  • And finally: writing to clear my full mind of it’s cluttered thoughts and brain dump. This also is healing.

So thank you to the emails and the post who inspired this post. Though all of them usually are overwhelming and often make me feel guilty about “not doing better”. So as a commitment to coming back to the self-care bit, I’ll work on not feeling guilty for the things I cannot change & instead take those times to take care of myself and rest. Other than that, I will just keep eating bits here and there & going to bed at 8:30 pm if I feel I need to that day.

Love,

Bea

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On chronic Illness and finding reasons to smile

This morning I sat here pondering after reading some posts from people, very much in the same mental space as I was in last year about this time. Frustrated, devastated and hopeless. Vestibular disorders including Vestibular Migraines are a often a chronic condition that alter your life suddenly, and completely. This condition drains you of most of your drive and ambition and you just have to figure out how to keep going through your day to day. I struggled so hard last year. I was pulled off work because I became a danger to myself and a liability due to my constant vertigo & dizziness. I was stumbling around like a drunk kitten. Being a bartender, this not only didn’t present a good picture but because it’s a busy job with lots of up and down and twists and turns was not the most safe environment for me. The decision was made after months of me not improving, but instead getting worse (March to October), that I’d take a sick leave. My condition still did not improve, so I did not return to my job as a bartender, letting them know to fill my position around Christmas time I believe, as Doctors didn’t have high hopes for me to ever return to work at all.

My sadness and depression got much worse at this time. I was devastated. I was a busy person. I loved busy. I loved knowing that I could fill my days 100% with To-Do’s. Then all of that was suddenly gone in a blink of an eye it seemed, and I was couch ridden and stumbling through my house, along furniture trying to make it day by day. I found my art in this time period again, it was something I strongly leaned on. Writing, painting, drawing. I did so many pictures that I gave away in this period and that are in my sketchbook but they carried me through.

Through each day I kept a smile on my face, knowing if I wasn’t waking up for myself, I was waking up for my girls. They were my motivation during my toughest days, were I simply had no motivation to roll out of bed in the morning, no ambition or strength to get up. The condition had taken over. I was in pain, disoriented, dizzy, nauseated and miserable 24/7, but my girls kept me moving. Having to mom and knowing that they relied on my smile and me getting up and being a grown up and running our house kept me going. So I did. I fought mentally through the depression, found my way back to where I could stand almost stable on my own two feet and then was referred to a program that would help me gain some confidence that I’d lost along the way and find my footing. They taught me that I did not need to be a bartender for the rest of my life and that my career was not locked in place just because that was what I’d done for x-number of years. By the end of the course (12 weeks after I’d started but 7 months from my lay-off) I was much more mentally prepared to battle life, I was on medication that had stabilized my VM and I was ready to tackle the work force again in a new field.

My story is a little long-winded and round about this evening, but what I’m getting at today: My path was very dead ended – I was on a dead end track bar-tending and that that and other doors simply needed to close. I believe fully that the Universe redirected me in it’s own way towards a path that would lead me towards my passions and where I’d be much better suited and needed. I now work in a field where I get to utilize my skills in a much better way still but also I get to be artistic ! I’m still chronic where my health is concerned and most days I wake up in some level of pain ( chronic means 15 or more VM days a month) but I do much better than before and I have an amazing support system that is always close by. The pain you learn to live with and it’s manageable with the right lotions. If you learn your triggers along the way and if you adjust your life along the way that also will help. My life changed. A lot. Everything changed. My friends, my lifestyles, I changed, my whole world has changed in the last almost 2 years but I am happy again and I am now in a place where I can almost confidently say that, though I am still daily finding more triggers (some I refuse to avoid: children, coffee, some days chocolate………) and always growing and always learning, I am stable in my Vestibular Migraine/Disorder and I have a handle on it as best as possible in this short period.

So sometimes, even though we may not understand why we’re dealt these cards. Why life is being so difficult or why we’re having such a tough time. If we give it time, and if we are still and trust that things will work out to our best need, they will. The Universe does have a plan. There always is a plan laid out for us. We just don’t have the Answer Key. We just get to go along for the ride. The fun part is to sit back and enjoy each moment and find the miracles in the crazy days!

Love,

Bea