This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge
Self-care means knowing that what works for you is right for you
Yesterday was a big day, I travelled to London to take part in a filming event with Pan Macmillan Book Break for Pride Month. It was an honour to be asked to take part, I had an enjoyable evening, and I met some lovely people. However, going, to new places, meeting new people and speaking on camera causes me a tremendous amount of anxiety. I have woken up feeling utterly exhausted. This is my usual response to a high anxiety event. It takes a lot of mental effort to calm my thoughts and my breathing, and this inevitably leaves me thoroughly wiped out for a day. Today I need to make some changes so that I can have a quiet, restful day. Ironically, this is making me smile, as it is confirming that my choice to begin the path of becoming a self-employed freelance writer is the right one.
This might sound odd to anyone who doesn’t experience mental health challenges. Why put myself through all of that if I know it will make me crash like this? The answer is because I love what I do and I refuse to let my mental health get in the way of me leading a productive and fulfilling life. I have a massive passion for recovery and change and for empowering people. For so long I have desperately been trying to fit my square peg self into societies perfectly round hole so that I can work in this field. All that did was make me feel like a failure when I inevitably couldn’t manage it.
Having the realization that I could carve my own way forward has been a revelation. I am only in the early stages of self-employment but I get inner confirmation that this is the right path every day. Like today, I can barely move, I’m in bed, but I’m working. Im writing, I’m networking, I’m creating.
I can do things like yesterdays filming, that cause me to have an anxiety crash because I know I can find the time and space I need after the event to take care of myself. If I was working, in the usual sense of the word, I would have no choice but to take a sick day. That would constantly put me in the mindset of being ill and would, of course, hold me back in my career progress. In being self-employed, I don’t have to declare myself ill or take a sick day, I just rearrange my day to work around my self-care needs and it won’t halt my career progression.
Self-care is liberating ourselves from other peoples definitions of ‘the right way’. There is no right way to do things, only what works best for you.