Wednesday, June 14, 2017
When Taking Care of Yourself Becomes Overindulgence
For years, I battled anemia, fatigue, and being underweight. In fact, I recently hit my normal weight range which I haven't been within since I graduated as an undergrad, 5 years ago. Anemia is physically (and even mentally) debilitating. I was tired all of the time and had trouble concentrating or even doing the simplest things (like remembering that I had water boiling on the stove; thank goodness for a whistling kettle). I would fall asleep sitting down, in the middle of the day. I would want to take a nap within 2-3 hours of waking up... after 8-10 hours of sleep. I would often be found in bed, laying there most of the day because my body felt very heavy and it was exhausting simply sitting up. It wasn't laziness; my doctors all confirmed it was due to the anemia. I didn't have the physical (and mental) strength to function like a normal human being.
I tried to push myself and do things despite my physical weakness but that ended up backfiring and I spent more time in bed, trying to regain strength. When that happened, I knew I had to admit "defeat" and allow myself to do what my body wanted. If I felt tired, I would take a nap. If I felt I couldn't walk any longer, I'd sit until I felt well enough to continue. If I was hungry, I would eat. If I was thirsty... well, you get the idea. Whatever my physical needs were, I took them as cues from my body that that was what it needed. It was that (and taking the multivitamin that apparently boosted my iron and folate levels quite quickly) that helped me get healthy once again. Hooray for learning self-care!
I learned that it's important to take care of yourself -- something I was sadly lacking since I tended to put others' needed ahead of my own and this is something I've done since I was a child. I didn't think of what I needed or even wanted. I did what others needed. It's not a bad thing, but it can become a bad thing. I've been taken advantage of by those who saw that I was easily exploitable. It's something that I've had to learn to better manage; to learn to say "no" and not feel guilty about doing. Seeing that I was making myself sicker by not taking care of myself was a massive wake-up call and one that I'm grateful for since I know it'll be useful once I have a family of my own (someday, I pray). Now I have to learn the other side of taking care of yourself: doing things in moderation.
Before I get into that, a bit of background info for you new readers. I feel like I'm getting those selfish years I didn't get when I was younger. As those of you who've been long-time readers may recall from previous posts, I didn't have your typical adolescence or young adulthood. I helped take care of my parents when most of my peers were going out with friends. I didn't go parties. I didn't go out on dates (and I've yet to be taken out on a proper date. Seriously). I didn't even go to slumber parties. Sure, I regularly went to concerts between the ages of 18 and 20, but I always came home right after the shows. When I hung out with friends (in those years in which my father's cancer was in remission), I would come home early. Simply put, I was a responsible kid. I avoided drugs, alcohol, sleeping around, and every other vice you could possibly think of for someone who grew up in L.A. My then "friends" used to tease me for being an "old lady" or a "prisoner" of my own home but that's just how I've always been. When I was in school, I focused on that and didn't go out. When my father's cancer returned (and eventually became terminal), I was even more homebound than normal After my father died, I focused on school until I graduated. Almost as soon as I graduated, I got sick and it's taken 5 years to get to the bottom of all the problems I ended up having.
Now, taking care of yourself isn't bad. I'm back to my pre-graduation normal weight. My health is the best it's been in several years. My anxiety is virtually non-existent these days. I have a (more or less) clear path on which I'll be traveling down on over the next year or so, if it continues to be God's will. I've placed myself in God's hands and it's been a wonderful thing. But... I'm getting slightly off-track now. While doing what you need to do stay health is great, it can backfire which is what I'm dealing with right now.
As you could probably guess from the title, I'm currently trying to learn to do things in moderation because what worked for me while I was sick isn't what I need anymore. I can't oversleep anymore (and my body has actually ached on days when I sleep more than 8 hours). I can't eat more than I need to. And before you ask, I used to lack on appetite and had to force myself to eat some days... which is how I got into the habit of eating even when I didn't feel hungry. That and, for a long time, I couldn't take iron pills and I had to eat a lot of food just to get enough iron in my diet for the day to not make the anemia worse. I've gotten into the habit of doing much more for myself than most other people do and it's one that I know I will struggle to break out of.
I have the hardest time breaking habits, both good and bad. I have to re-train my body to be fine with 7-8 hours of sleep when I can get them (which, thankfully, is most days). I also have to get back into the habit of getting to sleep early and getting up early instead of going to bed at 2 a.m. and waking up at 10-11 a.m. This will not be the easiest, especially since Mom's been on vacation since my birthday so I've gotten used to not getting up at 3-4 a.m. to help her get to work on time. I need to remind myself to listen to my stomach and to my body and stop whenever I feel myself getting full. I have to remind myself that the objective is to keep hunger away and not to make myself feel absolutely stuffed. Yes, I also know I won't ever have this luxury again... especially not once I get married and have a family of my own. That's why I say that I feel like I'm getting the selfish years I didn't have when I was younger; I only have myself (and my mom, to an extent) to worry about.
As I mentioned in the previous blog post, I have two more months off before I begin the next step in (what I believe to be) God's plans for me. I already have plans to work on my spiritual life (doing a big re-do/makeover of sorts) and I had my third novel to work on so it's not like I'll be sitting around the house, twiddling my thumbs. As soon as Mom heads back to work (this weekend), I get to reestablish my "housewife" routine of taking care of the house, running errands, and balancing the household budget by myself... on top of the plans I have for my novel and other things regarding my faith that will get me out of the house during the summer.
I will also try to go to confession more often because I know gluttony and an overconsumption of things are considered sins... and I'm tired of telling the priest I over-eat at least once during the week. *blush* If you haven't made the connection yet, the longer I went without going to Mass and confession, the easier it was for me to be selfish and greedy and allow myself to overindulge in sleep, food, and general laziness. I'm ashamed of myself for falling into this trap but it happened and now I'm holding myself accountable for all the dumb decisions I've made.
Please pray for me as I try to cultivate more temperance in my life. There are things I didn't mention in this post that will make things a little harder than usual for me when it comes to learning how to balance things, especially in the "ninja area" of my life that y'all know I don't like talking about on this blog. (*whispers* that means my "personal" life for those of you new to the blog. I'm notoriously private about my love life, y'all.)
Anyway, I think that's all for now. It's getting hot in my home office (we're nearing the triple digits this and next week in L.A.) and it's (unfortunately for me) the hottest room in the house so I want to escape this mini-oven before it gets hotter.
I hope you all are having a lovely week thus far!
As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D