Ah self care day 🙂 It was very much needed and I feel better for it.
Part of being able to stay well (as I can) with my physical health and my mental health is down to making time to look after myself and my needs, as it is easy to forget to look after me because sometimes I don’t feel important, so it’s easier to make sure everyone else is ok.
Depending on how many groups and appointments I have on in one week I will have about 2-3 days a week, where I will rest and take care of my needs.
So what does a self care day consist of for me, well I start by having breakfast and if the housework needs doing I’ll do that. It may not sound very relaxing but if all my housework and laundry is done then it is one less thing to worry about. Also when I have cleaned up my head feels more in order and it generally makes me feel better.
I then have a shower and get dressed, in nice fresh clothes. I then have some lunch, which usually depends on what I fancy.
Depending on the weather and my physical health is dependant on what I do next. So if the weather is good and my pain levels are ok, I will take the pups out for a walk somewhere. If the weather is good but my pain levels are bad then I will just take the pups out for a wee and maybe just sit across the road with them and watch them play for a bit…You get the idea.
But if my pain is really bad it usually makes my mood low, so I just do things at home to make myself feel better. I take my pain meds every 4 hours, I take tramadol and paracetamol. I have my hot water bottle pretty much attached to me, to help ease the pain. I will take a nap as being in pain is so damn exhausting. I make sure I eat and drink things that I fancy. I watch tv, game, meditate, colour my colouring books and generally just relax.
That’s what I do on a specific day I set aside to relax and take care of my needs. But there are things that I do every day which is also making sure my needs are met and everything is ok. It’s hard work maintaining “normality” when you don’t know how you will feel mentally and physically from one day to the next and fighting with the brain fog to remember things is sometimes like wading through mud.
So every day things may seem ordinary to people who don’t have mental health or physical health issues, but they are more important then you know.
Every Monday I refill my pill box up for the week and if I need to re-order stuff I make sure that goes on my todo list. I do the housework every other day and do the laundry when the basket is full. Like I said earlier, a tidy house equals a tidy mind. It’s also good for your self esteem, don’t ask me why I just know it makes me feel pride about myself.
Also on a Monday I write a list of what I am doing and what day for that week, any appointments will be written on the calender. But I find if I write it out again on a weekly basis it helps me combat the brain fog and helps me to remember. On the list I also write when I get my benefits and what bills come out when e.g electric, rent, phone bill..etc. This a very important part of my life, it’s important I don’t miss any appointments. It is also very important that I know what money is going out and when and that I make sure I pay my rent on time and have plenty of electric. This list will sit on my laptop which is by the sofa on the side I sit, so I see it every morning to check what’s on for that day.
Having a shower or bath is part of most people’s daily routine but when you have physical and mental health issues such a small task becomes a massive chore. I myself don’t often struggle with the lack of motivation to shower because I simply can’t get dressed if I haven’t had a shower because I feel all gross…yes its weird lol. Anyway since getting my stool for my shower I find it much less taxing and I find it less of a chore, I am also now able to take a shower in the evening to ease any pain I am in because of the stool. But yeah having a shower and taking care of my personal hygiene also lifts my self esteem 🙂 and makes me feel confident.
Sleep, sleep is very important to my physical and mental health. Insomnia kicked off my last manic episode. I have to take 50mgs of Quetiapine a night in order to sleep a bit but I still struggle some nights. On the nights I struggle to sleep or feel I might, I make sure I have a full belly, I try and make sure I will be warm or cool enough, if I am in pain then I will take a warm relaxing shower with my lavender baby wash. I get all snuggled up in bed with the pups and listen to a guided meditation on an app called Stop, Breathe & Think and it always helps me get to sleep.
If I wake up early which sometimes I do, usually because I am in pain or its just insomnia. So I get up, pee, eat breakfast if I’m hungry, take pain meds and watch tv for a bit. I will then either go back to bed and sleep or I will just fall asleep on the sofa. If I am having a bad day with my physical health then I will have a nap during the day as well to keep me going.
Food is important to keep you going and to help keep your physical health well. I sometimes struggle with my lack of appetite but with all my physical health issues it’s not surprising. But I do try my best to have breakfast and dinner, sometimes I am hungry enough to have lunch as well. I try and eat a proper home cooked meal every day but also have the odd take away. I have a perching stool for my kitchen, so it makes cooking and washing up so much easier and I enjoy cooking again. I sometimes cook meals in the slow cooker, so it will make enough for me to freeze, so on a bad pain day when I don’t feel like cooking all I have to do is microwave something. If I don’t really have an appetite for a meal I will at least try and eat little an often, as I need to take my meds on a full stomach.
As I am unable to work due to my health issues, I spend a lot of time at home being ill with my physical health. Being alone too much effects my mental health and makes me feel very low. I attend two support groups once a week, which I really enjoy and some weeks they are the only people I see.
One group is called Breakfree, we meet on a Monday evening 7-9pm. It’s a therapy/support group for people who are transgender or who are questioning their gender. I have met some amazing friends in this group 🙂 some who I now class as my family.
The other group is called Mindout which is an affiliate of National Mind. It’s a drop in support group for people who are LGBTQ who have mental health issues. Again I have met some great friends in this group 🙂
These two groups keep me afloat and give me what I need to keep learning about myself, my transition and my continuing recovery. I can’t stress how important these groups are too me, they help me meet my emotional needs.
I also have 1:1 gender identity counselling once a fortnight, which is with the same guy that runs the Breakfree group. Which is so refreshing to speak to a counsellor who has first hand knowledge of what it’s like to live with a long term illness. I’ve also learnt a lot about myself and my past makes much more sense too. This like the groups is important to meeting my emotional needs.
In 2015 I built up a better support network of friends, who have been so great to me. I cannot wait to spend 2016 making some great memories with them all ❤ Spending time with my friends and making memories with them is so so important. Even if it’s just hanging out at mine, with pizza and movies and my wonderful friends, it’s better then being alone.
So yes this is how I look after myself, this is my self care. This is how I control my bipolar on a low dose of Quetiapine and make the most of my life. It’s incredibly hard work and yes there are days where I don’t even make it off the sofa, but ya know what?! That’s totally fine too, I like having a day where I do absolutely nothing, some days all I am able to do is eat and sleep and that’s ok because that’s what my body needs.
My life is by no means perfect, I still mess up, I forget to pay a bill now and again or forget to take my pain meds on time. I still have really low days, I still really struggle with life in general.
But living with life changing physical health issues and mental health issues makes me view life a little differently to most and it has certainly made me stronger then I ever thought I could be. Life has thrown me so many curve balls last years, I watched as my health went down hill and there was nothing I could do to stop it or make it better. But I came out fighting and I came out a better person for it. Some days I didn’t know if I could go on, or if I could take any more but some how I go through, there is a fire deep inside that keeps burning, that keeps pushing me to go forward. I think it’s my desire to live my life for as long as I can with the best quality of life because one day my illness will kill me and I do worry and get scared about my future, but it’s out of my hands. I want to make sure I make the most of my life because I don’t know when it will end, yes anyone can say that but with a unpredictable condition such as mine its all that more urgent.
All of these things that I have written about, help me make the most of my life and help me stay out of hospitals of both kinds.
To those who read this, who are in the same position as me, I hope this will be of some value to you and I do wish you well.
Please feel free to comment and if you have any requests on a subject you would like me to write about then just ask and I will try my best to write a decent blog for you 🙂