This has been a huge year for our family in terms of changes. It’s interesting actually because this is one of the only years that we didn’t sign on for big changes. Many other years, we were fostering or adopting and that guarantees huge shifts in your family life. This year, though we added no new family members, our world seems to be changing faster than I can keep up with. I was resistant to these changes initially, grieving the life I thought we had, but I feel that I have begun the process of accepting reality now. With that, I have decided to make some personal changes.
The biggest realization that I have had is probably that I have limits. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but until this year, I thought that I was capable of more than most humans. I know admitting that makes me sound pretty conceited (!) but I just thought that God had given me more energy and mental fortitude to enable me to get through some hard things in life. I didn’t judge those who had to get 8 hours of sleep a night to function. I was just thankful that I wasn’t in that category. My sister-in-law used to joke with people who would ask her how I did it all that God gave me more than 24 hours in a day and in a way, He did. I really could function well on just a few hours of sleep a day and though at times I would need to crash and spend some time vegging out on the couch, I could push myself well beyond the limits that most people have.
Last year, I began to see signs that maybe my body would not cooperate forever. I was getting sick more often and just generally not feeling like I had enough energy to do even half of what I used to be able to do. I kept pushing. I pushed and pushed and by this year, it wasn’t just my body that was giving out on me but my mind as well. I started to forget things, big things, small things, most things. I began to have a hard time formulating intelligent conversation. At times I couldn’t find the right words and as those times became more frequent, I began to worry that I had early onset Alzheimer’s.
The stresses in my life were piling up and a wiser person would have looked at all the major crisis and trauma going on in my life and given themselves a break, allowed themselves to take a season off from some things, let go of some obligations, expected less…BUT…true to my personality, I pushed just a tiny bit more. Then I began seeing some signs of depression. I was sleeping more, eating less, irritable, negative, pessimistic, and had less energy than ever and I still wasn’t giving myself the grace that I would give to others. I expected myself to “just get over it”, “fake it ’til you make it”, “suck it up” and all kinds of other not very helpful cliches.
It really took the stresses in my life to pile up to a point of undeniable crisis for me to admit that I needed help and even then, I considered myself weak for admitting that I couldn’t do it all alone. Tune in tomorrow to read “The Self-Care Author Takes Her Own Advice”!