Self-care Practices and its Importance
Picture this: I'm sitting in an OBGYN office a few days ago, Googling about ovarian issues, when the Nurse Practitioner swings open the door to the waiting room and gruffly calls my name.
Startled, my mind now several Google pages deep into ovarian issues, I jump, my laptop careening to the ground.
"Sorry," I mumble, picking it up and patting down my dress. Following her through the swinging doors into the back, she points towards an examination room and the counter where I can put down my things.
Once seated - I choose the chair and not the examination table because, mentally, that feels less serious - she asks why I'm in.
"Oh, you know," I nervously joke, "my ovaries just bein' dramatic like their mama."
I realize this is terribly unfunny by the bored look on her face, so I proceed with the litany of symptoms. "Well, so, this one time this happened," I say. "And then another time X thing happened. Oh, and recently I've had this X thing."
She listens, then interrupts when she's heard enough: "And how long has this been going on?"
I pause, momentarily wondering if I should lie.
"Months," I admit, instead. I'm too tired, maybe too scared, to lie. "I don't know anymore. Months - since the spring."
She furrows her brow. "Next time, come in sooner. With your history and your family history, you shouldn't keep these symptoms at bay."
I nod: the irony not lost on me that September is also PCOS awareness month, and I am a woman who has PCOS and constantly preaches about getting your ovaries checked out.
A few days later, armed with new information about what's going on in my body and waiting, a tad anxiously, for additional results, I sit here writing this blog and reflect on the experience.
Maybe you're wondering: what does it have to do with self-care? Recovery?
But the two correlate, I find.
In similar circumstances, with my eating disorder, I didn't seek help for years because I was too scared of the outcome. I was always putting off help because of the unknown, often blowing past it because I was "too busy" with other things and didn't "have time" to get help. Besides, I was working full time, had a great job, and even though I was cratering under the eating disorder cycle, I was "functional."
Like - LOL - the logic is mind-boggling to me, even now. To suffer so much but pretend you're too busy or have too much going on to actually get help. That's an eating disorder for you. It derives from fear, much like my avoidance of dealing with my ovarian issues derives out of fear.
When I think about it, I have had no problem prioritizing travel and wanderlust and the fun parts of life on the road as a nomad - but when it comes to my physical health, I have a historical pattern of ignoring red flags and signs.
I may be in recovery from my eating disorder now, but I still don't prioritize the self-care of my body as I should. I still put 'me' - the physical essence of me - on the back burner far too often, which only further causes me to spiral into anxiety and avoidance behaviors.
It certainly doesn't enhance my recovery or better serve my mental health.
Self-care is all the pretty things we see online, sure. It's the lavender bath salts, the candles, the journals full of gratitude, and the face masks.
But, self-care is also the boring, sometimes scary, actions too: like taking care of your body even if you're not sure you want to know the outcome. It's caring for yourself as a vessel and going to that doctor's appointment when you instinctively understand and know something is going on.
It's advocating for yourself because no one in the world can do that for you. It's you and your body. And self-care is responding to it as needed; at least, that's what I'm learning from this experience.
I don't know what the outcome of all this will be, but at least I'll have answers and a path forward so I can sleep better at night and function better throughout the days.
Full stop: the fear of the unknown can never be as scary as we make it out to be when what we're choosing to do serves to alleviate the symptoms of whatever we're going through - whether it be physical pain or the emotional and physical toll of an eating disorder.
And self-care is tending to those flames of fear, however 'busy' or seemingly 'functional' we think we are.
Next week, when I head back to the doctor, I'll schedule that follow-up appointment when I'm there. And that, my friends, is self-care.