This might make you laugh. A person who is certifiably mad… yes madder than a mad thing from the planet mad… as mad a box of badgers… as mad as cheese… and any other description that you can come up with… yep, I’m mental. So how the hell can I talk to you about self care and mental wellbeing? Well that is exactly what I’m here to try and do.
I’ve never thought that I’ve had much of a talent or gift for writing. I never thought my brain was that much of a clever thing, being more of a lump of wet putty hiding out in a corner, rearing up like one of the zombies from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video and screaming noooooooooo! I will not think! I will not be creative!
This time around, it really does have to be my poor soggy wet grey lump that does some thinking about looking after itself and indeed the rest of me.
Self care has always been an alien concept to me. From a very young age I have always been thinking of other people and what makes them happy. Never what makes me happy. Never what is good for me. I’ve always neglected myself in favour of what is right for other people. I guess I was a nurse and a carer before I even knew it.
My grandfather always used to say to me that I was born with an old soul and that I was destined to care for other people. When I was a little girl, my dolls and teddy bears were constantly bandaged in various ways and being “nursed” back to health, only to be bandaged up again. I used to love to help grandpa to look after the animals on the farm and I learned very quickly how to recognise signs of distress in both animals and humans and how to be able to help alleviate that stress.
From a very early age, I knew that I wanted to be a nurse. My ‘father’ was adamant I would be a barrister but he lost the right to tell me what to do when he kicked me out of the house two weeks after my mum’s funeral when I was 16 years old.
It wasn’t an easy time for me and there was a lot of struggle and stress involved. What happened then is another post for another time however and not what I’m aiming to talk about at this juncture. I’m trying to talk about my mental health right now.
I first started to display OCD tendencies at the age of almost 10 years old. It started out that I had to scrub each part of my body fifty times before I would feel clean. If I couldn’t manage the count to fifty swipes of the flannel then I wouldn’t feel “even” and both my mother and my grandmother would be hurt. That is the fear that was eating away at me. Then I became obsessed with the idea of putting bleach in the bath to get me clean. I got as far as pouring it in and getting one foot in before my grandmother came in and stopped me from doing it. Ever since that night, I’ve been unable to stomach the smell of bleach. But because I couldn’t do it? I pulled out bits of my hair for hours until I fell asleep
That was the development of my trichitillomania. Whenever I get anxious about something or can’t do what I need to do, my hand automatically reaches up to the side of my head. I always tend to go for the same two spots every single time that I need to do it. So I have two patches, one on either side of my head, where the hair is very short and wispy.
This is where the self care starts to come into the equation. I bought myself some pretty hair ties, the type you can do in a bow or a knot on top of your head. They work really well to hide those patches. What else I discovered was my passion for brightly coloured wigs. I probably own wigs with every colour you can think of in there somewhere. I’ve got a wig head that I can brush and style them on before I put them on my head and it really does make me feel like a different person.
That, to me, is a vital part of self care. Knowing the things that make you happy, whether they are big or small.
Then I talked about my recent foray into the wonderful world of Lush in a recent blog post and how looking after my skin has made me feel so much better.
The key here is not to try to take huge leaps into doing things for yourself. Spend some time thinking about you and what it is that you like and what it is that makes you happy. Those little things can make all the difference. I realised two things recently. The first is, it’s ok not to be ok and the second is you can put yourself first.
Be kind to yourselves.x