For instructions on how to participate in this week’s prompt see Beckie’s post here!
1. Were there signs of your self-care routine lacking before you were officially diagnosed with a mental illness/disorders?
Definitely. My self-care was entirely absent. I never knew how to take care of myself and I’m still learning.
Did you (or) do you suffer from low self-esteem?
Yes, currently and historically. I was an incredibly shy kid with low self-esteem and I’ve had body dysmorphia as long as I can remember. When I was younger it primarily manifested as a distorted perception of my face (nose, ears, and chin) as well as my arms. I never wore my hair in a pony tail to avoid exposing any of my features and since I was old enough to dress myself I refused to wear short sleeves. I distinctly remember boiling in sweatshirts on the playground, even in the summer.
I was always as self-conscious about my silence as I was about my words. That is to say, I rarely talked when I was younger. I’m working on finding my voice now but it’s taken a long time to cultivate a sense of safety to do so.
Is there (or) have there been stages of guilt when not properly taking care of your self-care routine?
Guilt is a familiar feeling for me but I actually wouldn’t say I’ve felt bad for not taking care of myself. I think to feel bad for neglecting it, I have to first believe it’s a priority… and I’m still working on that part.
Especially with depression in the picture, it has been incredibly difficult to convince myself that I need to take care of myself. I fight the guilt associated with taking care of myself almost daily but it’s getting better. I’m trying to unlearn the belief that I’m not worth it since my default has always been to completely ignore self-care. I learned it made you weak and vulnerable and that it was selfish. However, in time I’d like to be able to appreciate it is as a necessary part of life, and I think I’m getting closer to that day.
(You can refrain from answering the next question if you wish to). What was the longest period of time between taking a shower, and/or brushing your teeth?
I honestly can’t remember, depression has a way of clouding my memory. It was definitely longer than a week without showering. I know I went for several months without brushing my hair though.
If you are supposed to be going out for whatever occasion, are you concerned with your over-all appearance? (Or) Do you take care of your self-care needs before leaving the house?
I’m concerned about my appearance, yes, but I’ve been getting better at evaluating what my bigger worries actually are.
It’s not realistic to think that everyone is paying attention to the way I look. I tend to over-evaluate appearance – realistically I don’t consider it that important. I don’t judge my friends on their appearance so I expect the same from them. If someone is judging me on the way I look they’re making unfounded assumptions and missing out on the opportunity to get to know the real me.
I will likely always be a little self-conscious but I’m learning not to let it prevent me from living my life. The more I deny myself the opportunity to express myself, participate in activities I enjoy, or connect with others because of my appearance, the more I’m reinforcing the idea that I’m not worth it.
What advice can you give to someone who is having difficulty with their self-care routine? (Note: If someone was to ask for your advice, what would you share with them?)
You don’t have to wait for self-love to start with self-care. Don’t make excuses for your self-neglect any longer because no one can know how to take care of you better than yourself. The sooner we can acknowledge that self-care is not only completely necessary, but also our own responsibility, the sooner we can begin to see it also as a privilege. Taking small steps to acknowledge our needs and then practicing providing for them can be empowering and begins the journey towards our better selves.