There’s no doubt that 2018 is all about self-care and the importance of looking after ourselves, but it’s not all hot baths and lie-ins, right? We can learn a lot from other people’s experiences, so here’s an account of one woman’s journey from self-destruct to self-care and recovery…
Self-care has become quite a buzz word as of late and I recently read a blog that got me thinking about what it means to me. In the blog, the person focussed on ‘self-care’ for a whole day and came to the conclusion that for her, self-care is, in fact, a bit self-indulgent but ultimately, it is 100% OK to be selfish. We don’t need to feel guilty about taking time out to take care of ourselves.
“For me, self-care means something a bit different and I wanted to share my experience”
I came into recovery aged 22 with a raging eating disorder and life was pretty dark in the years leading up to it. My world had got painfully small and pretty much came to a standstill. I was paralysed with fear and trapped in a never-ending groundhog day. My denial was so thick I had no idea that I even had a problem with food. I will spare you all the details of early recovery and move onto what came next.
Four years into my recovery, I then realised that something was not right and life was only getting harder, not better, AGAIN. I hit my second rock-bottom, this time with alcohol and admitted to myself I was an alcoholic. Taking my last drink aged 27, one day at a time I built a sobriety that continues to save my sanity and my life on a daily basis.
“Recovery is essentially learning how to take care of myself and my mental health.”
For some, self-care is inbuilt and very natural, for others, it is hit and miss. For me it really was a case of learning the basics. I had to fight hard to do even the smallest of things because, after years of living life hell-bent on self-destruction, I had zero clue who I was or what I needed. A really sucky thing about addiction is how counter-intuitive it is. My head will still on a regular basis tell me that the things that are good for me are in fact the total opposite and to be avoided at all costs.
“It’s not all hot baths and lie-ins!”
In the beginning, even doing the simplest of things felt like trudging through the mud on a bad day and utterly pointless. To one person, they seem like mundane, everyday tasks that you do without thinking, but for someone who was struggling as much as I was, they were each a small mountain to climb: Brushing my teeth and washing my face before bed, asking for help, learning to say no, replying to text messages, doing a food shop, washing my clothes, washing my hair, doing one thing on my to-do list.
There are loads of different layers to self-care and it all depends on where you are at and what you need. Nowadays, my self-care is more on the spectrum of doing things for enjoyment and relaxation, but to get to that level I had to start very, very small.
So when people get judgy about self-care, I feel a bit sad because it is not all hot baths and lie-ins, sometimes it is remembering to brush your teeth before bed, wearing clean clothes or answering your phone even though you really, really don’t want to.