We Have To Feel It To Heal It


Why do we feel the need to hide our struggles and present ourselves as having our shit together? Why do any of us feel the need to appear more put together than we really are?

We are emotional creatures, and we were born to express emotions freely and openly. But somewhere along the way, many of us learned to repress our emotions in order to fit in, earn love, or to be accepted. We hide our struggles because we learned throughout childhood and adulthood that showing signs of struggle is a bad or uncomfortable thing.

As infants and toddlers, we didn’t hesitate to show signs of struggle. When we were tired, hungry, upset, or blew out our diapers 💩, we cried or threw tantrums to communicate that we needed help. As young children in school, we raised our hands and asked for help from our teachers if we didn’t understand something.

But at some point while growing up, we become conditioned to stop asking for help and we start to hide our struggles. We stop raising our hands in class because we’re told we ask too many questions. We stop asking our parents for help because they told us to figure it out for ourselves. Increased expectations from our family, friends, employers, and even ourselves feels like mounting pressure. We’re so afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing that we paralyze ourselves and do nothing. We fear that negative response of not receiving help when we need it or our feelings being dismissed.

I grew up in a home where the motto was “Children are to be seen, not heard.” There was little emotional expression tolerated, let alone accepted. No one validated or helped me process difficult emotions in a healthy way. Anger was met with anger, fear went unacknowledged, and there was plenty of shame to go around. My parents didn’t model how to deal with difficult emotions, as they seemed to struggle with that themselves. When those emotions surfaced, I felt ashamed of my failure to be a “good girl.” Trying to hide the pain from others and myself, I built walls, put on masks, and soldiered on.

The truth is, we all hide our emotions occasionally. We pretend, avoid, and deny uncomfortable emotions as a defense mechanism. We do this most often with difficult emotions like guilt, shame, fear, or anger. When we experience events that emotionally overwhelm us and we’re unable to process what is happening, we hide them deep inside us where others can’t see them. And we end up hiding them from ourselves too. Yet, they’re still there. These unresolved emotions get trapped in our body where they build and fester. They drain our energy, which leads to burnout, and we become emotionally imbalanced. They undermine our overall wellbeing.

No matter what our struggles are, there are people who can and want to help. When we share our struggles with those around us, we give them permission to voice their struggles too. We may never know just how life changing that permission may be to someone. They may be feeling alone, overwhelmed, or even at the end of their rope, and we can help by giving them an opportunity to receive our understanding and support. The moment we make ourselves vulnerable, we give others permission to do the same.

The bottom line is, we’re human. We’re all imperfect and we all struggle. No one has their shit together all the time. No one has a perfect life and no one feels happy, confident, and positive all the time. Struggling is a normal part of life. We have to feel it to heal it.

Acceptance Is The Key To Be Truly Free

Acceptance is imperfect. It’s difficult and messy, but ultimately leads to a sense of freedom. I’ve had a lot of painful experiences in my life that I needed to accept. Choosing acceptance has been crucial in helping me move past my feelings of fear and frustration when life throws me a curve ball.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with a life threatening allergy, a mast cell disorder, hereditary angioedema, and my asthma rapidly worsened. I was in and out of the hospital every few weeks, on and off the ventilator most of those hospitalizations, and unable to completely care for myself. My husband became my caretaker and our home became filled with adaptations. From grabbers and shower chairs, to hand rails, canes, and a basket filled with medications that would put Mommom’s pill basket to shame. Everyday there’s 31 pills to take, plus 3 nebulizer meds every 4-6 hours, 2 different types of insulin, 2 inhalers, 1 injection for osteoporosis, and a partridge in a pear tree.

My career as a medical techologist in the blood bank came to a screeching halt. My life threatening allergy alone made me a liability that no employer wanted to take on. Hearing a judge declare that there is no job I am eligible for was like getting punched with a forearm shiver. My illnesses initially caused so much loss and disappointment. I was dealing with the fear of exposure to my allergy, the shame of unemployment, and the guilt of not being the active wife, granddaughter, and friend I wanted to be. I didn’t want to accept that this would be my life. A life without a career. A life revolving around my medical care. A life where I was no longer independent. A body I no longer recognized. I wanted to go back to the way things were and patch the life that I knew back together again. I felt like accepting my illness was accepting defeat.

So how did I move from a position of resistance to one of acceptance? How can we find some wiggle room in situations that may feel utterly suffocating? Chocolate and chicken nuggets help, but what really grabbed me by the short hairs was realizing that if you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer.

All human life is fragile and sickness doesn’t discriminate. Pain is inevitable for all of us, but life is constantly in a state of flux. We hurt, we heal. We struggle, we grow. Things get hard, then things get easier. If I were Jerry Seinfeld and my friend had just thrown $20 out the window, I would end up finding $20 in my coat pocket. I would be Even Steven.

My daily life is a well choreographed ballet of organized chaos. Every meal, medication, breathing treatment, finger stick, and insulin injection has to be perfectly timed. Even mundane tasks like washing laundry, cleaning dishes, taking a shower, and watering the plants have to be balanced with my medical care. Any deviation can cause a setback in my health. Then the dance pivots and it’s a race against the clock to see if we can manage my illness at home, or the ballet stops and we have to go to the hospital.

I have learned that acceptance is not defeat, resignation, or giving up. It is an acknowledgment of the truth. By making peace with our reality, we remove the sting of our emotional suffering. This gives us an opportunity to become unstuck and make the best of the hand we are dealt. Once we accept our situation, we can move forward with greater courage, determination, and strength.

There is so much beauty in the world to balance the pain. When we accept what is and enjoy what we can, peace becomes possible, and then we are truly free.

Do You Give Until It Hurts?

“I give and give and give, and what do I get? Nothing.” If you have ever muttered or thought these words, you probably gave until it hurt, bending over backwards trying to make others happy.

Growing up I believed that my virtue and worth lied in my ability to take care of those around me. If I did a good job then everyone around me would be happy. I saw my grandmother meet this standard to a T. She put everyone else before herself and never wanted to be a bother to anyone.

As a kid, I was taught how to care for others. I got a lot of practice caring for my younger sister, especially when she was an infant because we shared a bedroom together. I would feed her, change her, and give her a pacifier when she cried in the middle of the night. As a teenager, I would pull weeds from neighbor’s gardens and driveways, or babysit the children at church during potluck dinners and events. I was determined to never leave anyone high and dry. Family, friends, and coworkers knew that I was dependable and could be counted on when they needed me.

One thing about giving to others is that it makes us feels good… until it doesn’t. When helping people starts to feel more exhausting than joyful, you might be inclined to keep giving more. Some people believe that the more you give to others, the more you will receive in return from them. But this is often not the case. You may end up feeling isolated and disappointed because you aren’t getting as much in return as you are giving to others. You end up putting yourself on the back burner and giving to everyone but yourself.

If you always say yes to everyone who needs your help, then saying no can be extremely difficult; especially if you have been conditioned to wrap your self worth up in pleasing others. We often sacrifice ourselves in order to help others and we tend to feel guilty if we put ourselves first.

Your self-worth is determined by how much love and care you direct toward yourself, not others. It is unrealistic to expect anyone to anticipate your needs and take care of you. This leads to assumptions and you know what happens when you assume. You make an ass out of u and me. 😁

Part of taking care of yourself is being nice to yourself. Stop talking down to yourself. If you wouldn’t do it or say it to someone else, vow to never do it or say it to yourself. There is no glory in disparaging yourself. Sacrificing your wellbeing because you don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings is not an act of humility. Your feelings and needs matter as much as anyone else’s, but you can only honor them if you recognize and prioritize them.

Life Is a Gift And One Day You Have To Give It Back

It’s been a little over 3 months since Mommom passed away and I still don’t feel like I’ve grieved her yet. Perhaps it’s because my own health monopolizes so much of my time that it distracts me. It breaks my heart that I couldn’t visit her as much as I wanted to over the last couple of years. I felt like I was failing her. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. I know it wasn’t my fault I couldn’t visit her due to my medical conditions and the COVID pandemic, but it still breaks my heart.

My grandmother’s unconditional love has given me wisdom. Her love has made me realize that I am special, cherished, and strong. I don’t have to try to become someone because I already am someone. I was “punkin” to her, Poppop, and Uncle Miles. Now I am a badass warrior queen 😁 I was loved by her, and it’s the type of love that changes you. I treasure those moments we shared and her spirit continues to stay with me.

My brother, Mommom, Poppop, & me
Mommom & me at my high school graduation

Mommom showed me that life is a gift, and one day you have to give it back. Life goes by fast. It makes you think you should hold on tighter, fight harder, and become better. You learn to surrender to the fact that you can’t make everything last. But some things do. The most important things last.

Love is what stays when everything else has dissipated. Love is what we know even when we lose our memories of the past. That feeling remains in our soul even when the knowledge of it is lost. I knew Mommom felt my love even when we didn’t get to see and hug each other. I couldn’t control Mommom’s declining health or my own, but I made each moment with her count. That’s all I could do.

Mommom taught me to simply be myself and that I am enough. Society can make us feel like we have to climb the corporate ladder in order to be important. It pressures us to be thinner, richer, and look younger. We show only our best moments on social media to appear successful. This is all superficial crap! Where is authenticity in all of this?


If you feel like you’re not enough, be yourself anyway. Love anyway. Show kindness anyway. Fart in public anyway. Drop the f bomb anyway. Lick the cake or brownie batter out of the bowl anyway. Life is not about being popular or admired by everyone. It’s about being authentic in a world that tries to make us think we are not enough.

Mommom’s love for her family, friends, and the community was undeniable. Her life was filled with little joys. Whether it was baking sweet potato biscuits, playing yahtzee and seeing who got “dirty dirty” (the old quarter that got passed around like hot potato when someone got a yahtzee) sewing clothes, admiring G pick a bird clean, or just sitting at the kitchen table shootin’ the shit. Life is filled with little joys we share with the people who take up the biggest spots in our hearts. I may not remember everything throughout life, but I will remember Mommom’s life as a gift and that I was loved.

Cop A Feel

Who wants to cop a feel? No I’m not talking about fondling boobies. But I will admit to mine getting manhandled last week at my first mammogram. It wasn’t that bad though. Lots of pressure but no pain. Enough about my boobs. I’m actually referring to feeling annoyed by our loved ones. I know, sort of a taboo subject because no one likes to openly admit to feeling this way. Whether it’s our spouse, family members, partner, friends, or coworkers, do you ever find yourself feeling irritated by EVERY. LITTLE. THING they say or do?

Nurturing our relationships requires time, attention, and effort. In the early stages of a romantic relationship, we’re ALL ABOUT the other person and see only the best in them. We’re drunk in love. We don’t see the less wonderful qualities that might annoy us later on. But then time passes by, and it’s easy to become complacent until we are no longer appreciating and truly connecting with those closest to us.

When we constantly complain about our loved ones, all we see are their flaws. Annoying little things, which might not have bothered us before, can become quite perturbing. These feelings can snowball until your loved one’s habits drive you bat shit crazy. If you think about it, anyone can become really irritating if we only focus on their flaws and annoying behaviors.

Small things such as not calling or texting me when they said they would, interrupting me when I am talking, or not putting their dirty drawers in the hamper have become bigger issues. I found myself forgetting about the loving and caring things they did and instead focusing on my disappointment and irritation. I would focus on what was wrong in my relationships until all I could see were the problems, not the people. These feelings can chip away at the intimacy and joy in any relationship. If it continues for long enough, it can feel like your relationship is stuck in a rut or it might break altogether.

I have a tendency to expect too much from certain people in my life. I have high standards for myself and often expect others to hold themselves to similar standards. I don’t aim for perfection but I do strive for progress. We are fallible human beings after all, so we can never achieve perfection. Although I don’t expect my loved ones or myself to be perfect, I sometimes find it difficult to accept their flaws and mine.

Fairy tales, movies, TV shows, and social media all contribute to painting this picture of a perfect life. These unrealistic expectations often lead to a lot of disappointment, and can be a huge threat to relationships.

Not one single person or relationship on the face of this planet is perfect. We set ourselves up for disaster when we expect our loved ones to read our minds, understand all of our emotions (even when we don’t understand them ourselves,) or to always make us happy. These pressures are just unrealistic.

When I was younger, I expected people to know why I was mad or why my feelings were hurt without even telling them. Looking back now, it was like I expected them to have this superpower that didn’t exist.

We often look for happiness outside of ourselves and expect other people to make us happy. But the truth is, the only person who can make you happy is you. Happiness lies within you. It’s not somewhere out there. Ultimately, you are not responsible for other people’s happiness and they are not responsible for yours.

Good relationships thrive on respect, support, trust, and patience. There will be times of sorrow and triumph, peace and chaos, and conflict and joy. Relationships do of course change over time, but that doesn’t mean they have to change for the worse. The first sign of a problem does not mean the relationship isn’t good. We need to remember that we are all imperfect human beings just trying to do our best.

Badass Warrior Queen

Badass women are not raised in comfort. We are not formed with ease and grace. We are made of fire and storms. We are made of the stuff that should have broken us but didn’t. -Brooke Hampton

I am often asked “How do you do it?” Or I am told “I don’t know how you do it,” or “I don’t know what I would do if I were in your shoes.” But the truth is, you could do it too. I don’t have superhuman powers. I put my underwear and pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else. Living with multiple rare medical conditions can be as hard for me as you imagine it might be for you. I wasn’t automatically given the knowledge and strength to cope with this situation.

Some days it’s hard. REALLY HARD. There are constant days of doctor appointments, breathing treatments, medication pick ups, insulin adjustments, ensuring I have enough medical supplies, not to mention the hours spent on the phone correcting medical billing errors and answering emails to keep my doctors updated.

I know better than to compare myself to others, but I would be lying if I didn’t say it feels like a kick in the nards watching other people do normal daily activities. It’s hard not to think of all the things I “should be” doing. I “should be” working, I “should be” running errands, I “should be” cleaning, I “should be” exercising. Day to day stuff often gets pushed aside. If I sit still, there is something that isn’t getting done in that moment, and I know it. And sometimes I feel guilty about it.

I don’t get out much and I don’t have visitors often. Friendships and relationships can be hard to develop and maintain when so much of my life revolves around my medical care. That doesn’t mean I don’t long for those connections, though. I am thankful for the people who join in and are a part of my world.

I see people traveling for vacation and I can’t. I miss that. I see people spending their days outside enjoying the beaches and parks and I can’t. I miss that. People are able to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others and I can’t. People are starting to resume all the freedom their healthy lives provide and I can’t. Not yet. Life can be overwhelming and emotional. My mind, heart, and body get tired at times. I won’t let that stop me though.

I am reminded that this is my journey and there are milestones to celebrate. For the first time in over a year I was able to enjoy dinner out in a restaurant. This is really special for me because it shows just how much progress my health is making, especially where I was just on the ventilator in the ICU exactly 2 months ago.

It’s still an adjustment living with and managing multiple medical conditions. It’s a lot of work that is time and energy consuming. Sometimes I have to remind myself to shift my perspective. Life is too short to waste it moping about the hand of cards I have been dealt. So cheers to turning 40 and accepting that even though I Look WAY different on the outside (thank you effin prednisone 🙄), I am still the same feisty, resilient, and badass warrior queen that I always have been 😁

Purgatory of Indecision

Sometimes in life there is a pivotal moment when you know that you just can’t keep going on the way you’ve been living. Something’s got to give and you have two options: shit or get off the pot. Choosing between making a change or staying where you are can feel daunting, so you find yourself trapped between the two, in a purgatory of indecision.

The prospect of change requires us to take an honest look at ourselves and do things we might be afraid to do. We have to take a leap into uncharted waters, unsure if we’ll sink or swim. This can easily entice us to stay in our comfort zone. But if we can’t bring ourselves to change, we risk living a life of misery, dysfunction, or regret. You may feel like you can’t stay where you are, but you’re too afraid to move forward. You remain stuck in this purgatory of indecision.

As a teenage girl and into my twenties, my plan was to become a pharmacist. I loved math and science, I wanted to help people, and it would be a secure, stable career. I started working as a pharmacy technician a few months after graduating from high school and continued this while going to college. After I completed all the prerequisite courses, I applied to a few pharmacy schools. Imagine my surprise and utter disappointment when I read rejection letter after rejection letter. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t accepted. I had excellent grades, a good PCAT score, and pharmacy experience. It seemed unfair. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. Why wasn’t I good enough to be accepted? How could I have failed? What in the hell am I going to do with my life now? I had busted my hump for years to meet my goal of becoming a pharmacist and now it was being flushed down the shitter.

One of the pharmacy schools I had applied to sent my information to the University of Maryland Department of Medical and Research Technology, so they sent me information about their program. When I read through it and saw Blood Banking as a specialty, I had that “Aha!” moment. I had a special interest in Blood Banking after I needed a blood transfusion during surgery to straighten my curved spine in 2004.

I was still working as a pharmacy tech after getting rejected by multiple pharmacy schools and saw the direction the pharmacy profession was going in. I didn’t like that insurance companies dictated so much of patient care. They’ll cover one type of insulin but not another similar insulin. They won’t pay for this asthma medication but they’ll pay for an alternative. And they change their mind every year on what list of medications they choose to cover. I don’t believe an insurance company knows better than a patient’s doctor what medication works best for the patient.

So what do I do now? Do I keep trying to apply to other pharmacy schools or pivot and apply to med tech school? I decided to get off the pot and apply to med tech school. It provided the same reasons I wanted to become a pharmacist. I loved math and science, I wanted to help people, and it would be a secure, stable career. Plus, I had this personal connection with Blood Banking after my blood transfusions. I was both excited and relieved when I was accepted into the program and worked as a Blood Banker for 11 years after graduation.

The purgatory of indecision is an awful place to be. It is fraught with doubt, shame, anger, and overwhelming amounts of fear. Despite that, sometimes it still isn’t enough to push us in a particular direction. Our fear acts as a dysfunctional voice that eventually grows louder and can become the only one that you hear. Fear, along with self-doubt, whispers “you’re not good enough” or “you can’t do anything right.” It may even convince you that you’re inadequate, unlovable, or a failure. It can feel like there is a constant tug of war going on inside of you.

If we choose to not listen to that dysfunctional voice, then we can subdue it. When it says we aren’t good enough, we can choose to believe that we are enough. When the voice tells us we can’t do anything right, we can choose to know that we are doing the best we can and that is always right. When that pesky voice taunts us with feelings of inadequacy or failure, we can choose to have trust in our own potential. And when the dysfunctional voice tries to convince us that we are unlovable, we can decide that we are worthy of love.

We don’t have to remain stuck in unsatisfying situations. And we don’t need to make big changes all at once in order to live fulfilling lives. Change can be scary and uncomfortable as fuck. But small shifts can lead to huge transformation over time. The way out of the purgatory of indecision is to simply get started and to keep on going.

Toxic Expectations

We often make challenging times so much harder by expecting a lot from ourselves, pushing ourselves, and beating ourselves up when we fall short of meeting our own or others’ expectations. We expect ourselves to be happy, productive, confident, or there for other people. We expect ourselves to always be at the top of our game even if we put ourselves at the bottom of our priority list.

But we can’t possibly be all of these things all of the time because we’re not perfect, we’re human. And being human means there are times we are messy, inconsistent, and unreasonable. Some days I have my shit together and other days I’m glued to the couch in my pajamas covered with nacho cheese Doritos dust.

Many problems we face in life are tied to expectations of ourselves, of others, of situations, and of the world. We may expect ourselves to be perfect, successful, and to feel happy with our lives. We may expect others to think and act like we do. We may expect life to always go as planned and the world to be uncompromisingly fair.

Holding onto expectations can create a lot of negative consequences. It can eat us up, from the inside out. It can lead us to feel frustrated, angry, and resentful. We may blame others and ourselves for the way things are. Or perhaps we feel so hurt that we retreat into a shell in order to try to protect ourselves. We can become indifferent, uninspired, and unhappy. To avoid these festering emotions we have to look for ways to let go of our unreasonably high expectations. Letting go of anything can be hard. We grow attached to objects, habits, people, and behaviors. But it can be possible if we practice self-awareness, work at letting go, and have patience with ourselves when things get tough.

Over the years, my expectations have created a lot of stress. I recognize that I have the same expectations of others as I have of myself. This often leads to a lot of frustration on my part. I will constantly question, “If I can do this, why can’t you?” It could be a coworker not working as quickly or efficiently as me. It could be a driver not giving me “a wave” after I made room for them to merge in front of me. It could even be people not flushing their nasty dook in a public toilet.

I have learned that not everyone thinks and acts in the same way I do. People have different tendencies which allows them to meet internal and external expectations differently. Although why everyone can’t flush the damn toilet after dropping a deuce is beyond me. Anyhoodles, emotions don’t always make perfect sense, so I’m trying to be mindful of when my expectations of others are unreasonable.

Self-Awareness

Experiences like these, and how I react to them, have made me take a look inward. Why did I feel the way I did? Is it all ego, or is there a deeper issue? If there is something deeper, what can I do to address it instead of stewing in my feelings? What good would it do for my relationships if I voiced my frustrations? Can I do better?

We all have our strengths and we all have things we need to work on. Without beating ourselves up, we need to ask some tough questions of ourselves at times. If we want to avoid negative reactions in the future and get better at handling expectations and emotions, we also need to have an understanding of them.

I’ve realized my ego is often at play in scenarios where my expectations aren’t met. Sometimes I feel slighted because I can take things personally. But often, when people fail to meet my expectations, it has little to do with me and everything to do with their own circumstances. I shouldn’t vilify them for not being who I want or expect them to be. We are all a little weird and wonderful in our own way.

Letting Go

Expectations are a natural part of life. Not all are necessarily negative, but they often need balancing. If our expectations are destructive, we must learn to let them go. This doesn’t happen overnight. It will take some time to instill new habits.

Letting go requires taking a brutally honest look inward and making some tough choices. It also involves facing some of our biggest fears and perceptions. We may realize that we need to stop looking to other people for validation and interpreting every perceived slight as proof of our own unworthiness.

Sometimes our unmet expectations indicate something else that we need to let go of. This could be relationships that are toxic or abusive or a career that is unfulfilling. Some people and things just aren’t meant for us, no matter how much we wish they were. Some jobs and situations won’t work out no matter how much we hoped they would.

Life is not a straight line. It’s full of twists and turns and everyone gets turned around sometimes. Learning to let go of our expectations is hard, but it’s also necessary to maintain healthy relationships, our peace, and our sanity in order to become the best version of ourselves.

Judgy McJudgerson

I am my harshest critic. I’ve held myself to ridiculous standards, pushed myself to be and do more than what’s feasible, and beat myself up over minor mistakes. We judge ourselves while navigating an emotional landmine, all in an attempt to avoid feeling shitty or wrong. So why do we judge ourselves?

1. We have an idea in our heads of who and where we should be in life.

In a world with impossible definitions of success and constant exposure to everyone else’s accomplishments, it’s easy to convince yourself you’re failing or falling behind. You might believe you need to be the best in your career field. Or you feel pressure to be married with 2 kids by a certain age. Perhaps you thought you would be finished with school or run your first marathon by now. Yet we supply an endless feed of social media posts to try and prove we’re living “our best life.” The truth is there is no right time frame for these events. Happiness in life isn’t dependent on achievement, status, or social media posts.

2. We tend to base our self-worth on our successes and failures.

We think we have to prove our value through achievements and worry that our mistakes will define us. I grew up seeking approval and praise when I succeeded. As a child I desperately wanted my parents to recognize when I did something right or good. At the same time I felt ashamed if I fell short of my own or other people’s expectations of me. I thought that if I failed or made a mistake, it was because I couldn’t do anything right.

This thought process creates a cycle that can only be broken when we learn to separate our actions from our identity. It’s a practice, not a one-time shift in thinking. We need to recognize that sometimes people make bad choices or have bad moments, but that doesn’t necessarily make them bad people. Good people still make mistakes because we’re human beings and no one is perfect. We are deserving of understanding, compassion, respect, and empathy.

3. We think we’re not good enough.

Maybe you developed this belief because it seemed nothing you did growing up was right. Perhaps your parents were hard to please or they constantly compared you to someone else. I know many people who have suffered from the emotionally abusive question of “Why can’t you be more like so and so?” Maybe a friend, colleague, or partner directly told you that you’re not good enough.

Some toxic people are so obvious that they can be spotted a mile away. Others are a bit more subtle. But all are destructive. Emotional abuse has become somewhat normalized, because it’s a pattern people repeat based on what they experienced growing up. You don’t have to repeat the patterns of emotional abuse that were shown to you.

4. We have bought into societal stigmas.

We live in a judgmental world and we tend to buy into societal stigmas. As a result, we judge ourselves harshly. Questioning these stigmas can feel like swimming against a current. We need to learn to give less of a flying fuck about what other people think of us and in general.

If you always tell yourself you’re a failure, then you allow your insecurities to hold you back from doing new or challenging things. You get caught up in a vicious cycle of your beliefs influencing your behavior, which then reinforces your beliefs. For example: When I was younger, I feared people wouldn’t like me, so I put up walls and made it hard to get to know me. This felt safe to me because if people didn’t know me, then they couldn’t hurt me. But this meant that I didn’t give anyone a chance to get to know and like me.

Overcoming self-judgment is hard and it’s not something we can do overnight. It may take years to recognize and change our beliefs and patterns. It might even be a process of two steps forward and one step back. But we can remind ourselves that we are enough and that we are doing the best we can.

Self-Care Is Not Selfish

There are a lot of things causing anxiety these days. We live in a complex and stressful world full of uncertainty right now. Will the COVID-19 vaccines provide the immunity needed to help us? Will there be more senseless violence at the Presidential inauguration this week? Our teachers and students are stressed as they navigate the constant changes and challenges of online education. Our healthcare workers (both front line and behind the scenes) are pulled and stretched in every direction trying to help patients. Many people are struggling financially. We’re constantly plugged in to technology and yet are more disconnected from each other than ever before.

So how do we help ourselves ride the inevitable storms that come our way? How do we handle daily chaos without feeling overwhelmed? We all know that we should make our health and well-being a priority. But we seem to make excuses as to why we don’t take care of ourselves. So what’s the problem? Lack of money, lack of time, lack of resources, lack of awareness, lack of motivation. We may feel disheartened to “fix” our life because we think there are too many problems to tackle. But we don’t have to completely overhaul our lifestyle in one month, or even one year, to make a difference. We just have to take one step forward right now.

Practicing self-care provides stress management techniques to help us cope with life’s challenges. If you have been following my blog you know that I live with several chronic illnesses. Managing my medical conditions can be quite stressful, especially when I am hospitalized. I recently spent a week in the hospital over the new year due to a severe asthma flare. It sucked ass. None of the hospital doctors could reach my asthma doctor or anyone on her team for treatment recommendations. I had to call every time I needed to go to the bathroom because I was hooked up to the heart monitor and my bed alarm was turned on to prevent me from getting out of bed unattended. I had to call for my insulin with every meal. I had to call for the respiratory therapist even though I had breathing treatments scheduled at regular intervals. I was stressed out because I felt like I had lost my freedom and I thought I could do a better job managing my care at home.

On top of all that, the hospital team wanted to shove a camera down my throat to look at my vocal cords because my voice was intermittently hoarse. I have had this done a few times with my ear, nose, and throat doctor to monitor the size of a large polyp. It always causes swelling in my tongue and throat afterwards due to my hereditary angioedema which requires treatment. I refused to do this scope while I was in the hospital since I just had one done 3 weeks before and the hospital didn’t stock the medication needed to treat my hereditary angioedema. We already knew that my vocal cords don’t close all the way because they have become very thin as a result of all the prednisone I have been on. This gap in my vocal cords is why my voice is intermittently hoarse. SIX different doctors kept pushing me to consent to the scope. I felt bullied but I stood my ground. I was pissed that these doctors wouldn’t listen to me and understand that there was no benefit to shoving a camera down my throat when we already had an explanation for my hoarseness.

So what do I do to calm the fuck down when I feel like a hostage held in the hospital? How can I practice self-care while hospitalized where I have limited resources? I do deep breathing exercises, look at pictures and videos of my kitties on my phone, watch TV shows that make me laugh, and look up corny jokes online. Here’s my favorite joke right now: Is buttcheeks one word? Or should I spread them apart? 🤣😂🍑

Now that I am managing my health at home again, my self-care activities have expanded. I enjoy watching our cats run around the house like wildebeests, listening to my favorite music, pigging out on comfort food, tending to our plants and orchids, and taking long hot showers. There’s nothing more refreshing than washing the hospital stank off!

It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. Don’t put off self-care for later because later will never come. We have to make time now for what’s important and self-care should be a priority. It can help you transition from simply existing to living and experiencing everything this world has to offer. Which would you rather be doing?