Hello! I have been away for a bit. No, I was not on a faraway trip to some exotic land. I was immersed in the world of “after caregiving” health issues. I thought the way I felt was the combination of exhaustion and grief and even shared that with my doctor. It was not. Not the most enjoyable way to spend time, but it has been a learning experience. Stress induced autoimmune diseases are the shoulder shrug of the medical field. Advice like you can try X or Y, it can’t hurt. This may work or that could work. And the granddaddy of them all, we just have to wait and see.
As a caregiver, I always thought I would worry about my health “after.” I would have time to focus on my wellbeing. Have time to sleep and rejuvenate. That’s not how this works. Someone told me however long you were a caregiver, it will take at least half that time to get back to feeling good. Yikes. I can tell you, I believe that now.
What I did during these last six months is something I could never do previously. Whittle down my schedule to only the necessary. Be there for my children and my husband, my work with Daughterhood the Podcast and the Daughterhood Circle support group I facilitate. It was all I could manage. I stepped away from two important collaborations and put one on hold. That is a hard pill for me to swallow as I am very used to being involved in and part of many things. I barely left my house and lived on my couch watching old television shows or Hallmark movies. I even stopped surfing social media. I took each day as it came and tried to listen to what was best for my body with no judgement.
All of those changes were what I needed to do to bring some balance into my life. It was extremely difficult for me to not do anything. Honestly, it was alarming not only not doing anything but also not having the energy to even try to do something. I had never felt like this before. Even when I was at my most exhausted and burned out in caregiving, I could still push myself through, but this? This was like nothing I ever felt. I couldn’t think. My heart rate had a mind of its own. I felt like a wet dishrag every day. Apathy was my only feeling.
One of my mother’s sayings was, “when you’re sick, you’re sick alone.” Never had I felt that so deeply. Everyone focuses on their own life and wellbeing, as they should, but when you are the sick person, you are alone in deciding what you need for your health. They can say things like, “oh you just have to push through it” or “when I had something like that….” but they can’t understand how you feel and their words are not supportive.
My having to step away from projects became my choosing me. My putting all of my energy, care and compassion back into myself. I am just now starting to feel better. Six months after that day in my doctor’s office. One of my mother’s other sayings was, “you only have one body.” I’ve decided I’m going to take that saying with me for the New Year and know it’s okay to take care of myself. It’s okay to do what I need to do for my wellbeing. It’s not only okay, it’s necessary.
As 2022 comes to a close, I am wishing all of you a very happy holiday season, for whatever you celebrate, in any way that you choose to celebrate, and a joyful 2023 that brings good health in every part of your life.