It’s funny - that for the last six years I’ve been on this blog, writing about my life and connecting with people hoping to inspire and help them in some way. I like the little engine that could just keep on going but in all that time I’ve never talked about something that is extremely important to me - self-care. If I’m honest, I think that’s because I am only recently learning how to really, actively practice self-care and be my own advocate when it comes to getting the care that I need. Let me explain…
In the society that we live in today, we so often hear the phrase “Take care of yourself.” But it’s so easy to forget how or when to do that in our fast-paced, continuously connected world. I am a university student living with a chronic illness who has been through a lot in her life, I lost my father at a very young age to suicide and at 16 was diagnosed with chronic pain, by 18 I got my first wheelchair; fast forward to 21 and I’m a senior in college. My point is that life does not slow down or stop because you are in pain. The last two years I feel I’ve been moving mountains on my college campus about the way disabled people are perceived and the reality of their needs. It’s been tough. I would say that I am even burned out. I’m really glad that I’ve had this blog, this place to get me through those times, and so it’s funny that as I write this post I realize that I have been so busy advocating (and looking for causes to advocate for) for everyone else, I have forgotten to care for myself.
Every day I feel as though I advocate for someone else who might not be able to speak up for themselves. I will speak up when someone doesn’t hold a door for the person behind them in a wheelchair, I get up in arms when a bathroom is marked accessible that is not. I have always advocated for things like most people do, that have been important to me, that I’ve struggled with. I stand up against bullying, I’m largely pro medical marijuana, I stand for equal rights of woman, LGBT community. transgendered people, etc.
I hope that it’s evident that I am a huge supporter of people with disabilities. My hope is that every disabled person will be able to live the life they have always dreamed but to do that we need a community of people behind us and the internet has given us that. There are so many Facebook groups, support networks and hashtags online, I feel as though anyone can find what they need for themselves online - and if they can’t. I hope they’re inspired to create what they’re looking for themselves because someone out there needs it.
The idea of “self-care” and self-care movements online is growing, it seems that anything even mentioning it goes viral - but I’ve learned that self-care is not a one size fits all slogan and it is not a hashtag. Self-care is not something you only do on the days you’re feeling bad and neglect on the days you feel fine. Self-care is not selfish, it is necessary. That is why I think that it’s so important that you not only create your own self-care movement for yourself but always remember to advocate for it - even though it might be uncomfortable and people might not understand.
When my father died, I was only 12 years old, now it was nearly 10 years ago and although I sought therapy as a teenager, I can confidently say that I did not deal with all of the pain and baggage of that trauma. A lot of life has happened in those 10 years; a lot of good and bad, my illness has also changed, there have been triumphs and downfalls. Now As a 21-year-old woman I’m about to go back to therapy and seek medications for the way that I’ve been feeling in general - many people around me might not understand, they may tell me that I don’t have a problem or that my feelings should have already been dealt with. But self-care is not about how your mother, your grandmother, your partner, or your best friend feel - self-care is something that you do for you because of how you feel. And speak up about how you feel - advocate! Then advocate again - stick to it! No one will do it for you and taking care of yourself is so important.
Self-care can be anything - it could be your favorite TV show or a coloring book, it could be simply saying “no” when asked if you want to go out tonight, it could be simply asking for help. However you engage in self-care just remember that you’re doing it for yourself and no one else, you owe no explanation to anyone about the things you do for yourself.
For me, I love digital things, I love apps that let me journal and check in for example. I love digital planners, relaxing games - technology has simply made my life easier because of that I urge you to take a look at the Self-Care Catalyst. They’ve created this wonderful Self-Care Movement all about you! That will give you the tools for how to lead your best life. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Remember to always take care of yourself because you told you to do it.