Self-care is whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. Period. The end. You do not have to make excuses about needing time for yourself. Sometimes that involves taking a sabbatical from facebook or instagram. Sometimes it is just spending the day at home without distractions. Sometimes it is reaching out for professional help. Self-care is about YOU.
It is not uncommon for victims of sexual assault or abuse to stop taking care of themselves. In fact, it is a warning sign that something has happened that has made you believe that you are not worth taking care of. Finding your way back to taking care of yourself is not an easy journey, but it is one that is worth it. No matter who or what has caused you to stop being your best you, it is essential that you begin your journey back to that person.
For me personally, I suffered an unexpected and significant loss. My mother died very suddenly when I was 27 years old. We had been having a strained relationship since I was a freshmen in college. We never got the chance to resolve our problems before she died. I felt such guilt about withdrawing her life-support because I thought maybe I hadn’t prayed hard enough or given it enough time. This thought process put me on a path to self-destruction. It left me with a void that I tried to fill with just about anything you can imagine. I was suicidal and prayed I would accidentally die by combining alcohol with medication that was prescribed to me.
Fortunately, I ended up reaching out to my personal physician that I was having these feelings. He sent me to a psychiatrist and from there I found a therapist. The therapy helped me so much more that I thought it would. I never imagined that anyone could understand my pain. When you are in such a dark place, you develop a selfish mindset. This only happened to ME. When in reality, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. I was never alone. I just isolated myself from the people that loved me. I isolated myself from the ME that loved me. Don’t confuse isolation with “me-time”. Isolation is a dangerous place and takes you away from love. “Me-time” is about self-love. If you are in a dark place, reach out to someone you trust. If you need help ask for it. Over the last six years, I have found my path back to taking care of ME. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but it was worth it. You are not alone in this journey back to taking care of yourself.
Self-care can be whatever you need it to be for YOU. It is not a selfish act. How can you take care of anyone, if you can’t take care of yourself? Whatever you need to do to live your best life, then do it! Don’t allow anyone to make you feel like taking care of yourself is selfish. In fact, forget people’s opinions on your life. You are the only one living your life and walking in your shoes. So embrace self-care and find that love you used to have for yourself again. In your time, in your way because it is YOUR journey.
Ashley Davis, RN, BSN
Support Supervisor at Wings To HOPE