I’ve just listened to Emma Gannons’s Ctrl Alt Delete podcast with Jayne Hardy on self care and what it actually means.
I was very much here for this episode. For many reasons. Some because they describe having problems with your mental health as being ‘unwell’ which is so refreshing and so near the truth and so unlike many other mainstream media outlets, I cannot even begin. Some because they spoke about how society runs the risk of diluting this vital life skill.
It got me thinking about what self care means to me, and how much I bloomin’ agree with Emma & Jayne that self care is neither self indulgent nor a fluffy trend, but actually the act of doing the thing that makes you feel the way you want to when you are feeling your most unwell and least like the person you know you want to be.
Finally, people. Thank you.
A slight validation for the rage I have found myself feeling so often when I see Instagram posts of people #selfcare-ing with filtered pictures of Lush bath bombs and Diptique candles next to a book on Hygee. (FYI no this isn’t an ad, but apparently #ad -ing when you’re #selfcare -ing is the done thing now)
The inner gremlin that sees these and wants to slightly scream something about not solving your mental health problems by a Boomerang of a unicorn coloured bath bomb. Fuck.
I don’t scream, I just go off and fester about the adoption of the term ‘self-care’ and how it’s become another excuse for the internet to hashtag the living shit out of something that can, if executed properly, keep many of us alive.
News flash: self-care isn’t a scented candle.
It isn’t just buying soft blankets to decorate your living room to make it look like a Scandi-inspired Pinterest board. It isn’t Snapchatting your bath.
In the darkest days of depression, self-care is in fact just eating a meal.
Feeling worthy enough to eat something more nutritious than Ritz crackers.
It’s brushing your hair. It’s spending time looking in the mirror and getting ready, rather than your woefully low self esteem dictating you get ready using a hand mirror.
Fuck, it’s getting ready. And not spending your days in between un-matching and moth eaten pyjamas because, hey, did anyone tell you you’re a piece of shit that doesn’t even deserve matching bed clothes?
It’s exercising because exercise releases the happy things in your mind that help you turn Monday into Tuesday.
It’s taking your medication. It’s having a routine, because routine helps you sleep and sleep keeps you sane.
What’s self care for me when the fog descends?
Popping my meds at a similar time every night to help me rest, running so that I can clear my mind of the constant stream of worry for at least one hour a week and actually getting myself out of bed between that 0705 and 0710 window where sometimes the world feels far too much. Avoiding social media. Trying my hardest to stick to arrangements despite being scared of everything, in particular calendar entries.
It’s knowing what you need to do stop yourself slipping off of your edge and sliding towards the place we’ve all been, we all visit from time but the place we dread more than any other.
Self care isn’t having a Saturday night in, painting your nails and telling Twitter.
Self-care is a series of life altering steps that people have to take when they are their most unwell to help them feel worthy enough to keep on trucking.
It’s not a hashtag.