Sometimes forcing myself to do self-care things and being proud of myself for doing them takes a lot of energy and effort.
Today is an anxious day, and I’m so thankful for the anxiety medication I can take to help alleviate that. But it’s also a day where, in order to calm down, I’m having to spend a lot of time caring for myself. And it’s hard not to view that as vain, or shallow, or self-centered. It’s also hard not to look at what I’m making myself do and think, “If all of this is so hard and so counter-intuitive, there’s something wrong with you. You’re weak.”
When my anxiety rose up in my chest and stopped in my throat, choking me, I sat stock still for several moments.
“Take the pills.”
“No, normal people can calm themselves down. You just need to get over yourself.”
“No, you are having a panic attack. Take the pills. That will calm you down.”
“But if I need the pills, I’m weak!”
“Okay, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to take the pills, then take 10 minutes to wash your face and do your makeup.”
“Ugh. What a self-centered idiot I am. Medication and makeup. How privileged. How weak-minded and weak-willed.”
After a while, I was able to convince myself to take the pills and do my makeup. Touching my face, seeing it as a beautiful canvas open to the tools and shadows and paints in my hands, helped center me. When I was done, I saw Dani looking back at me in the mirror, not JerkBrain or PANIC.
“Okay. Now you’re going to fix a cup of coffee, and refill your water. Don’t forget your other vitamins and pills.”
I took all of my morning medicines, for all of my vitamin deficiencies and complications from poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, and careful washed them down with water. I ate two protein bars and drank my coffee, reviewing my to-do list for the day.
Noticing I was cold, I pulled my blanket around my legs and feet. JerkBrain piped up, “It’s July, you idiot. It’s not cold. You shouldn’t be cold.”
In defiance, I pulled my thin sweater on as well, slowly buttoning the buttons, pulling the sleeves around my wrists, sinking into my chair and heaving a sigh. The anxiety medicine was kicking in. JerkBrain’s voice was weaker and weaker, and I was flooded with exhaustion and relief.
These are such small things. Such little victories. What right have I to celebrate them?
The same right I have to celebrate the victories of all of my friends and family who deal with chronic illnesses, physical and mental. Small victories are victories. Medication that allows me to escape the never-ending cycle of panic is useful. Wrapping myself in soft, warm cloth is calming and soothing. Touching my skin and putting makeup on with gentle, loving hands is crucial on days where I struggle to love myself. Such a short amount of time of my day, and yet now I am calm. I can think. I am okay.
Celebrate the little victories. Always, celebrate the little victories.