Guest Post: How a Stroke at 30 Made Me Realize I Wasn't Taking Care of Myself
Self-care is an important part of my daily life. I didn’t use to think that, but over the last few years, I have begun to realize the importance of it. I have three kids, and for most of their childhoods, I have worked, and most of it was full time. My middle child has ADHD and autism and even after he was diagnosed and put on medicine, he was still pretty hard to manage sometimes. I forgot myself in order to care for him and his siblings. I wasn’t eating well, barely sleeping, arguing with my husband and throwing everything else I had left into work. I loved my job as a mental health associate at a mental health facility.
This worked, or so I thought, until March 30, 2013. I was 30 years old and I had a TIA (transient ischemic attack) otherwise known as a mini-stroke. Yep. That’s right. It started out as a migraine and of course, I was at work. I was actually working overtime when I realized that the migraine wasn’t going away and that I wasn’t feeling well. I eventually went home and stupidly enough, tried to go to bed. My mother came over to take me to the hospital and I was quickly transferred to a different one downtown because the CAT scan showed that I was having a stroke. I spent 4 days on a stroke unit.
It was after that I realized I had to take better care of myself otherwise I wouldn’t be around to take care of my kids. I had to take better care of myself. I have been left with migraines that are hard to control and other small effects, but I was lucky to live through the stroke at all. I take my medicines every day.
As it turns out, I also have RA (rheumatoid arthritis). That also requires a lot of self-care and rest. As I’m typing this, I am in the middle of a flare that is taking over every joint in my body. It hurts to move, but yet I still type. I have to care for myself, but yet strike a balance that allows me to have a life. This has taken trial and error and some very painful days, but I am still learning to accept help. That in itself is self-care.
I take care of myself because my conditions will worsen if I don’t. I’ve already had one stroke. I don’t want another one. I don’t want my RA to get worse. I want to be around for my kids. I want to be around for myself.
My kids are old enough to be able to do things on their own for a while so I am able to read, watch movies, color (when my hands cooperate!) and other things I enjoy. Those are just a few of the things I do the most. I also like doing yoga and meditating. I also love hand massages, especially when my hands hurt. I just get some lotion and massage away. Even if it’s for a few minutes, no more than 10 minutes sometimes, because sometimes that’s all I’ve got, it beats nothing. It’s all about finding that time for yourself. Don’t feel guilty doing it. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty doing it. This is for you. Everyone needs self-care. Even the people who swear they don’t.
Everyone has a time of the day in which it is easier to do self-care and what they like more. Some people like bubble baths and music. Some like writing and painting their nails. Whatever works. Just do it for you. Kick the kids and hubby out and let go of the guilt. Self- care improves your self-esteem, which everyone needs a boost of. It improves anxiety, depression and other issues. Without self-care, we become moody, sad and somewhat withdrawn. Things just don’t seem right with ourselves.
The world seems so fast paced and harsh today. It can be. If we can be positive towards ourselves we can be positive to others.
Wrae is a parenting/mental health blogger in Louisville, KY. She has a BA in Clinical Psychology and a decade in mental health work experience.
When she is not writing, she enjoys reading, true crime podcasts, and movies. She is married and has three children.