The Making of a Self Care Manifesto: Part 1
I’ve heard it said many times that a person sometimes has to hit rock bottom in order to finally make a change. I’ve mostly heard this term used in the context of addiction, but for me, a chronic migraine relapse with a hefty dose of depression and anxiety, plus a brand new party goer – anxiety attacks – has pretty much felt like rock bottom recently. It is, at the very least, a level of chronic discomfort, disability, and stress that feels intolerable. The fleeting thoughts that I would be better off just not existing are not the first, but certainly the most urgent clue that I need to make some serious adjustments.
Even with the relentless feeling that something in my life must change, it has been hard to imagine how it possibly could. I don’t always enjoy the many, many facets of my treatment plan, but I meditate, do yoga, exercise, medicate responsibly, eat well (mostly), and try to stay connected with family and friends despite the necessary isolation of migraine. I have new treatments lined up as much as I can without breaking the bank. I try to accept my limitations and work within them. Lately I have messed that one up, but I’m not willing to give up on any of the major projects I’ve got on the go, so that’s a brick wall. What more is there to do?
It seems I am not likely to bring about change all on my own.
Asking for help is hard. Lucky for me (or, not), I’ve been around the chronic migraine and depression block before, so I have a pretty good idea of where to look. Friends and family make up the bulk of my support system, but it occurred to me a few weeks ago that I need professional help. I resisted this for a few weeks because of the cost, but when I finally decided to go for it anyway, the mere act of arranging an appointment with my therapist from times past brought me some relief. And our first session in over three years brought even more.
With a keen ability to ask tough questions and offer concrete tools and activities, not only did my therapist provide some helpful grounding exercises to use during panic attacks, but she also helped me to see a glaring issue with my current treatment plan.
Put some heart into it.
Sure I do yoga and exercise and eat vegetables and use my Cefaly, etc., etc., etc., but the truth is that for a long time now, I mostly haven’t enjoyed these activities. I’ve come to resent them. I see them as mandatory detractors from time I could spend doing work that inspires, motivates, and gives me a sense of accomplishment. My honeymoon phase with meditation and yoga is long gone, and mostly now they feel like homework assigned by some mean, boring grade 11 math teacher.
My therapist asked, “why do these things because of migraine? Why not do them because they are good for you?” In other words, why not be good to your body just because?
This simple question is helping me to reframe how I treat my body, and how I value my time. It has sparked the desire to return to self-care as a gift I can give myself, rather than something I have to do because of my pitiful migrainous fate.
Write it down
So, with the wind of that recent therapy session in my sails, I’m embarking on a new journey to approach my treatment plan with a new attitude, and hopefully renewed mental energy. But thoughts are slippery things, so I commit myself, here and now, to write a personal manifesto to outline how I want to take care of my body, and all the reasons why I should.
If you like, you can read that manifesto here
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?