Guest Post: Remembering the Importance of Self

This guest post is written by Tracy Bradley, massage therapist on sabbatical, in Arkansas.

Find more guest posts here. Enjoy! 


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Self-care, The Plan:

  • Journal everyday
  • 5 minute meditation daily
  • Start sun salutations
  • Read for pleasure daily
  • Go outside with the kids
  • Long baths
  • Special treats

Self-care, What Really Happened:

I joined the group when Amber started the 100 Days of Self-Care Challenge. I’ve been so focused on my family that I let my needs go. What a great opportunity to turn inward and slowly start a habit or two soley for my well-being! I’ve always “written” so journaling seemed like the easy start. Yoga is enjoyable, therefore Sun Salutations seemed the comfortable start. I LOVE to read great books but busy-ness and social media have edged books to the side. A challenge seemed the perfect nudge to change a few things.

My journal received three dreadful, melancholy entries. I still haven’t done a single SS. Reading is a success, although sometimes it’s only for 5 minutes a day. No baths. No meditation. No treats. I literally could not do the things that should have been so easy.

I didn’t realize I was one level above rock bottom. Postpartum Depression and Anxiety had taken over my person. Taking 5 minutes to jot down a few words felt like a knife ripping through my head. The only thoughts I could think to write were terrible. So I skipped it. Yoga would have felt amazing if only I could have moved to the floor. Crippling anxiety prevented me from leaving the house most days. Isolation was comfortable until it began to hurt.

Self-Care, The New Plan

I reached out to my healthcare provider who is also a close relative. I unloaded my thoughts and symptoms into her small exam room. She was understanding. She listened. She asked questions. She answered about a million questions from me. We discussed options and decided to try a medication. I was ready for it. (I know medication isn’t for everyone, but this is my personal story.) I left relieved, optimistic, and terrified of horrible side effects. I realized how low I’d gotten. My family was suffering, but more importantly, I was suffering.

My new self-care habit is taking one pill per day. At the conclusion of the trial period I am overjoyed to say I feel human again! In addition to taking my meds, I do other self-care things. I leave the house for fun now. I haven’t been writing, but I’ve been contacting friends and family. We meet for fun things now and I don’t have paralyzing anxiety about it. There are almost no words to express my relief.

Self-care is important, but it can look different for different people. While some may balk at the idea of an hour with a book, that scenario excites me. Running for any reason other than escape is torture for me! However, there are thousands of people who pound their stress into the pavement. Our unique ways to care for ourselves are good. We just need to remember how important “self” is and take action and take care.

 

If you are struggling with PPD, anxiety or depression, please do not hesitate to seek help. Reach out to your healthcare provider or call Postpartum Support International at 800-944-4773.

Bliss is in the Waiting.

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Whenever faced with a tough scenario, diagnosis, or medical issue, I find the waiting to be the best part of that whole process. Where some get anxiety, fear, worry, or freak out, I tend to lean heavily into “we don’t know yet.” It’s my crutch to get to the next phase.

I don’t like to speculate and entertain wild thoughts. The “what if’s” and “can you imagine’s” just stir up emotions and ideas that my have no place in that scenario. “Cross that bridge when we get there,” is my motto. If the answer comes back to warrant a freak out or some tears, then so be it. But let that happen when it gets here.

I spent an hour at the vet today with my boy. We’ve had him since he was 5 months old. He’s now 11. A few days ago, he came off his food. He continued to drink water, but his energy was low and he had an air of depression. Where normally I would have to look under my chair before putting my feet down, or check the side of the bed before getting up, he lay in the hallway and barely moved his eyes as you stepped over him.

We were suspicious of dental issues, but found that hard crunchy treats didn’t slow him down or cause any pain, so ruled it out. Maybe it was a bad batch of food or his tastes have changed? We bought a different brand of softer food and he ate with vigor. Poor guy was just so hungry.

During this time, I kept commenting to my husband that his belly looked bigger than normal. I mean, he was compensating for it when he laid down. His bigger belly lead to a bigger concern that it might be a bigger issue.

By day two of his new food, he stopped eating again. I called the vet.

After some preliminary intake stuff and lots of notes, the doc had an issue he had to address in the next room. He apologized for dumping the words “possible internal bleeding” before leaving, but said he would be back shortly to aspirate his stomach and see what’s what. If he drew blood, then we would have to discuss our options.

Then he left the room.

There is bliss in the waiting. It’s a very distinct moment where everything is still a question and our eyes are clouded over. Truth is on the other side of a door that has yet to be opened.

Then the door opened. The doc was back with the necessary tools to stick my dog’s big stomach and draw out a big answer.

Blood.

Chewy has internal bleeding. “Most often it’s the spleen,” he said. “There’s a good chance it’s malignant. The most conservative approach would be to give him an ultrasound and see if anything spread to the liver. If it did, there’s no help for him. If it didn’t and it’s the spleen, we can remove it, but if it’s malignant, well you’ll know within a few months.”

We opted for the ultrasound.

They admitted him and now we wait.

Remember what I said about bliss? Yeah, scratch that.

4 Things I’ve Learned from My Daughter Redux

941306_10152824957170641_1919170735_nWhen I wrote 4 Things I’ve Learned from My Daughter, I didn’t realize the post was already written and safely tucked away in my Evernote notebook. Some points here are ones that didn’t show up in the first piece and others may echo what’s already been said. Either case, no word is wasted here so I’m sending this post out into the world and maybe you can pull something from it that the original didn’t deliver.

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During my second pregnancy, I found out I was having a girl. I can’t really explain what kind of fear this brought up for me.

Thoughts kept cycling around, “if I’m not confident in MYself, how can I teach her to love her own body?” Then, “what if something happens?” Also, “I can’t relate to most women, how will I be able to relate to my daughter?”

You get the idea.

While it’s not as scary as I thought, I suspect the scary part has yet to come. I mean as of this writing, she is only four and teenage years are not too far away. I am certain we will have bumpy patches and even more positive there will be learning curves and delicious laughter. For now, here are some things my daughter has taught me thus far…

See others for who they really are – not what you expect them to be.

If I had to sum her up in a sentence, I’d tell you she was a sensitive, free-spirited butterfly that is easy-going and just rolls with the punches. And for the most part that’s true. She is very easy-going and free-spirited. However, there are moments when she clearly has an opinion about what’s happening.

Because she’s so “go with the flow” I’m always surprised when she shows resistance to something new or shows she doesn’t feel comfortable. It always catches me off guard because where my son has trouble with change, she usually does not. So I expect her to behave in a certain way and when that doesn’t happen I realize there are things I might not know about her yet.

Sometimes it’s OK to hide out until you’re ready. 

Like I said, it’s not often she shows resistance to newness and change. Every first day of school has been a breeze and an exciting event. Ditto with birthday parties in locations she’s never been with people she doesn’t know. Easy breezy. But her first dance class left a lot to be desired. She was nervous and even though she had been there prior and was comfortable in the location, she clung to me and cried.

I wasn’t able to figure out if it was nerves, fear, or the worry about doing well but I allowed her to sit with me and observe. Her next class we prepared by talking about how she could just watch – but I was not going to be in the room this time. She sat with this the whole day and her resistance was greatly reduced. When that class was over she told me about how next class would be different and she was going to do the whole thing. And you know what? She did.

She has taught me to be more sensitive.

I’m generally not a “suck it up” type mom but I have no tolerance for whining and carrying on needlessly. In recent months, she’s expressed her opinions with quite a bit of whining. It took a little bit of looking deep to realize exactly what was going on. It occurred to me that she had a valid point of view. We explained that it was OK to express her feelings but we’d rather with words than whining.

Whining was her go to for communication because she couldn’t describe something that was be above her vocabulary and/or understanding. She just knew something was off and needed to express that. Being sensitive to that and really listening beyond the whining was actually what got us passed that phase.

Don’t take things too seriously and learn to relax.

Oh man, I cannot even tell you how fun she is. We play house in the woods. We throw rocks in the water. We paint in splattered aprons. We take the long way to where we are going. We have even been known to go alligator hunting in a fuzzy coat and glitter shoes. (Her idea.) My daughter has opened the door to a world that I didn’t realize I had closed off.

Nothing is off-limits. She doesn’t realize it, but she is bringing me back to the person I use to be – and thought I’d lost.