It got me thinking because when I usually hear people talking about taking care of themselves – it sounds something like: “Well, if I don’t take care of myself, no-one else is going to!” But that is not true actually, when we don’t take care of our emotional and physical needs we end up placing the burden of our care on someone else. Often it is our partner, spouse, or children who end up taking on our care.
Take Joanne for example. She suffers from chronic depression and anxiety. However she will not go and see a therapist or get medication for it. She thinks that medication is bad for her and will not subject her body to it. She also knows that in the absence of medication, exercise can help; going outside in the sunlight can help; and eliminating some foods like sugar can also help.
But Joanne is too depressed to tackle these things or keep them up for any consistent and effective length of time. She ends up feeling guilty and bad about herself. She cannot function effectively at home and to make herself feel better she takes headache pills and eats sugar to numb herself out. In this state, she finds it very hard to get things done around the house and also at work. Her husband, Jim, ends up taking on most of her share of the parenting and housework. If this goes on, Joanne’s children will end up having to take care of her and in effect raising themselves. As her situation continues to deteriorate she will need care from outside the family. At some point she might imagine that she is too much of a burden to everyone and think of ending her life.
If she does that, her family will almost surely never get over the loss. And the cycle of depression will continue.
As mother’s we owe it to ourselves to put our emotional and physical health first. Yes! First! Even before our family because being a mom takes enormous amounts of patience, tolerance, flexibility, consistency, commitment and energy.
And to manage all this, we need to be well. Very well.
If you are a mother, answer these three questions:
- What was the last thing you did for your emotional or physical health?
- What have you been putting off doing for your health that needs doing?
- Write down when you will get it done – date and time. Make a commitment to yourself and do it.
Take great care of you. There is only one you – and you are irreplaceable to your children.
All the best,