It has been a while since I have written anything for Blognitive. A while since I’ve even thought about writing anything really. Well, that’s a lie, there are a couple of things I am working on, but they’re about more external things. Less personal than the one I am currently vomiting up. It is actually very like a public vomit, this business. Because once you post it, it is out there. You cannot really take it back. Some people will be sympathetic to your public vomit. Others will start to vomit themselves. Some will be downright appalled you had the indecency to subject others to your public display. The precious few will offer you a tissue and ask if they can help with the cleanup.
But this ain’t about vomit. No!
“So why did you bring it up?”
I have no idea, I am in a weird mood and the analogy seemed to fit. So I went with it. I took a risk. Did it pay off? Who-the-fuck-knows!
Since I last wrote at the start of the year I’ve moved to Toronto, written a load of other stuff, panicked about the fact that I don’t have a job, been back to the UK to surprise my family, and started a new job. Yes, this week marked my first full week of work since the start of October! It also marked the Monday morning where I woke up with full-blown flu. I didn’t notice it at first, I just thought I had been a bit snotty in my sleep. When I got to work I found myself feeling a bit hot and cold and tingly. It progressed to a body ache, then a headache. Finally, I knew. I couldn’t deny it any longer.
Anyone with a flu history says you have to take time off and rest, get better and not contaminate anyone. Well, I had already had a billion days off to do whatever I wanted—what I was really in need of was cold hard cash—so I did my best British bit and got on with it. Apart from all the moaning and complaining to my friends. You gotta have your outlets.
While all this was happening, I thought about bodily health versus mental health. How we treat it. How the treatment differs. We have all burned the candle at both ends, and become sick. Only then do we stop and allow ourselves to recuperate because we have to. We can see the signs and we are generally useless until we have some rest.
A whole day or two in bed was not available to me, but when I finished work I got straight into bed. I slept as much as I could and made sure I was feeding myself good things and drinking lots of water. I haven’t been drinking alcohol recently, I was thankful for that. I fear the illness would have been so much worse had I been.
Mental health? It rarely gets the same treatment. When having a bad mental health day, so many people put on their best ‘lying’ smile and do their best to ignore it. It’s rare to take a day off and just take care of the mind. Don’t cancel plans just smile through it, have a pint or a glass of wine. But it will catch up with you.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been feeling generally pretty good this year. I am taking care of myself, I have been busy writing and setting myself up in Toronto. I have seen family and friends and it has been wonderful. But this is exactly the time when complacency can sneak in and you start to let the little things slide. As we generally feel we are ok, the little self-care moments dwindle because we don’t need them anymore, do we?!
This is when self-care should be strengthened. Not exactly doubling efforts, but more reflection. Writing about what is great, what has made life brighter, creating a visual feast for that feeling: Something put up on the wall, to look at before we leave the house every day.
I am not a fool, I know one day soon I will wake up and feel less fabulous than I feel right now. It is the natural cycle of things. Today, my love for myself is full. I enjoy my own company, the thoughts and sillinesses (it is a word) that play out in my head. I am not judging myself, or others in turn. Things are good. I am happy. I should store some of this sunshine up to use when I can’t see it.
Self-care isn’t the reserve of the downtrodden. It is something you can administer in sickness and in health. Flames to be stoked whenever you feel the urge.
It is a basic human right. One that only you can give yourself–and no should be able to take away.
So I have been fluey and gross this week, and it has sucked a little. But I have been fortunate enough to have a lovely house to live in, with lovely housemates—good friends, wonderful family and lots of tea! I feel that the little devotions I have made to myself have strengthened me. My reading and writing, exercise, gratitude for small things. I was able to face flu and work head-on, without a meltdown. This may sound small. Something most people would take in their stride. But I swear to you about six months ago I would have most likely gone into a deep depression. Mental health and bodily health go hand in hand. And I am always more irritable and solitary when sick.
Even here, at the end of it all, I am worried that this is going to sound so redundant. My little brain is whirring with things like “this is so selfish, there are other people in the world who need help and you are talking about self-care like it’s the biggest thing.”
Well, to that voice, and to anyone else I say: This is very important. You should always fit your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else’s.
So here’s my little sunny post, at the end of a long-ish week. I will make a concerted effort to write more frequently. Sorry if you don’t like my vomit, but you can always turn away or tut at me. It makes no difference; it’s out there now!
Love you all
Oh, and if you are wondering about the relevance of the image: This is the most fabulous dress I have ever seen. It was created by Guo Pei, and she makes me happy.