In your life, you’ve likely held many roles, such as a student, an employee or employer, a wife or husband, a caregiver to a parent. Life at certain times dictates that we put others needs first, such as when you have children. Of course, they have to be first, they are totally dependent on you and for 18+ years at that!. We, the chronically ill, have certainly been the center of attention for many months or years dealing with your Vestibular Disorder. I doubt that was enjoyable for you, all the questions, the testing, and a diagnosis you didn’t ever want in the first place. For me, it was two years of true Vertigo and Nystagmus and yes, all eyes were on me (watching me fall). This kind of attention can wear a person down. Privacy becomes a thing of the past. Even though it was done ‘for my safety’, it still felt an invasion of my privacy. Being the center of attention is not the same as putting yourself first and doing so is not selfish, it’s you taking care of self. At some point, we have to put ourselves first and cherish the mind, body, and soul that needs nurturing. How do you take care of self, without feeling selfish?
As a child, I watched my mother give selflessly for all of her children for 18 years (x4). She was a stay at home mother, by choice, as she was a College-educated woman. She instilled us all to become self-sufficient adults, but somewhere along the line, I got the ‘message’ that it was selfish to put yourself first. Maybe because I don’t remember her doing that. Her role in the family was multi-faceted, but being the caregiver was her most treasured role. What a surprise that I too have the caregiver role in my family! Since my 2003 diagnosis, family roles have been thrown up in the air for sure. My husband (the provider role), had to hone his caregiver skills. He was an involved dad, changing diapers, bathing, feeding, learning you can do all kinds of housework with a baby on your hip! By the time I got ill, though, his skills needed some coaching. He’s since taken over the grocery shopping and most errands. He vacuums and mops, he’s a keeper for sure! He’s never says anything but praise for me and ‘all I do’ for the family.
Personally, I struggle with all my loses…but, I’ve begun keeping a Gratitude Journal. I’m finding my lists of losses grows shorter as the gratitude list grows longer. I find myself being grateful for the ‘little’ things, such as surviving a recent two-hour grocery store debacle! Yes, I said two hours…the store had rearranged all the isles, so it took about 3x longer than it should have. In reality, this was a good thing, as it can be considered VRT. I was miserable after about 1-hour, but I was doing it, that’s something to be grateful for! I’ll be honest, I wanted to bail on Mike more than once and I was totally draped over the shopping cart by the end…I did it,though! Happy dance! I was absolutely zapped the next day, my head was swimming, I felt off balance, my out of shape body ached all over. In the past, I was getting massages 2x a month, but I can’t afford to do that any longer. So, how could I treat myself while having no money? One way is to get in our hot tub and relax. I am blessed to have a hot tub. That was my gift to myself years ago (well, I guess it 2004 for the Fibromyalgia), so to use it now doesn’t cost a penny! It’s still a treat and extremely relaxing…
Some other ways to treat yourself for little to no money:
- Take a bath or shower…linger…(light some candles, put in some Epsom Salts…)
- Start your own Gratitude Journal (just a spiral notebook will do)
- Sit outside and enjoy nature. Look above, below and all around. Then, close your eyes, taking in all the sounds and smells
- Watch a new or favorite movie (Beaches anyone? Four Rooms?)
- Give yourself an easy body scrub using sugar and vegetable oil (I do it in sections over a couple of days, as it does take energy to do a scrub)
- A manicure or pedicure (even if you’re the only person to see it)
- When was the last time you turned the phones off and read a book? Make it a ‘real’ book (not a Nook). I grew up with a home library with all the Classics and more. A book has such a comforting scent to me…
- What about some ‘guilty pleasure’ T.V. shows? Real Housewives or Toddlers and Tiaras? Trash T.V. at it’s best!
- I’m an Art lover and used to go to Museums, but now, thanks to the internet, you can take a tour of Museums from all over the world.
- If you can help another person, just one, do so. I can’t tell you how great this can make you feel! Can you really put a price on making someone smile?
- Listen to your favorite music or try something new. YouTube rocks for this! The first 2 or 3 years of our marriage, music was all we had, as we didn’t yet own a T.V. I should have never bought a T.V. as watching it can be so consuming. It’s all about balance (it really is for us Dizzies!)…
- Dig out that old hobby that was left by the wayside when you became ill.
- Do some Yoga stretches. There are many I’m unable to do because a particular position makes me dizzy (Downward Dog)
- Play dress up! When was the last time you wore high heels? I occasionally get all dressed up, just to lay in bed, because I miss my heels…I can’t walk in them, yet am not ready to get rid of them!
I hope you see the importance of taking care of self. We may not have control over many areas of our lives, but we can do something to make us feel better. If only for a short while. These Vestibular Disorders take so much out of us. Isn’t it time to put yourself first? Give it a try, I think you’ll enjoy it!