Happy Friday, my fellow bookworms, bloggers, and benevolent masses! I haven’t been very active on my blog or on my Instagram, and today I just wanted to take a fleeting moment to discuss mental health, and when blogging needs to take a backseat.
Characteristically, I have good weeks and bad weeks, rather than good and bad days. On the good weeks, I feel productive, optimistic, energetic, and motivated. On the bad weeks, I feel less so.
The best way I can explain how I feel on bad weeks is with the help of an analogy I’ve stood by for a few years.
Do you know the feeling you get when you’re walking, say, down a sidewalk, and you begin to trip over your own feet? And, in trying to regain your balance, you keep stumbling. Instead of hitting the ground, it’s like you’re falling in slow motion, trying to stop the forward momentum but simply stumbling over the clumsy feet that you’ve lost control of.
Bad weeks are like one five-day fall. It’s like I can’t stop my feet from fumbling, can’t catch my breath, can’t find my center.
The past two weeks have been wrought with personal misfortune. You might’ve seen me whine about my trials and tribulations on Instagram, but let me whine some more here for the sake of a fully-fleshed out blog post.
First of all, I have a wisdom tooth that is causing a lot of discomfort where it meets my cheek, and going through the hoops to find a dentist and an oral surgeon who takes my insurance has been one week-long obstacle course.
Secondly, and worst of all, my beloved dog, Gravy Jones, has a slipped disc in her neck that’s been causing her loads of unmanageable pain for two weeks. If you’ve never had to deal with this kind of injury in a dog before, a slipped disc technically falls under the umbrella of Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). IVDD ranges from mild cases of pain and discomfort to severe neurological symptoms of paralysis. Thankfully, Gravy Jones appears to be at the severe end of the mild spectrum. That is to say, she’s very far from paralysis, but managing her pain with medication hasn’t been easy.
Our wonderful vet gave us three different medications to coat in peanut butter and force feed to her, but for an entire week, it didn’t seem like they were having any effect. Gravy Jones’s symptoms were ever present, if not worse. She would erupt into bouts of heartbreaking cries if her neck was jolted the wrong way. She would sit and shake with tremors for hours, panting and pacing until the pain subsided. My boyfriend and I have been sleeping on separate couches for two weeks to avoid Gravy trying to jump down from or into our bed. The only alternative to medication that can help Gravy heal from IVDD is contacting a veterinarian neurologist, getting an MRI, and undergoing surgery. Several thousand dollars of surgery.
Finally, we were able to increase the dose of the meds and return for refills when the bottles ran low, and this week has shown a lot of progress. When the meds are in full effect, Gravy is almost her normal playful, hungry, tail-wagging self again. She forgets that she has any injury, so we have to discourage her from being too active, but seeing improvement has given us so much more optimism about the situation. She still has many weeks of strict rest ahead of her, but I’m praying that I’m right when I say we’re likely out of the darkest woods.
All this was happening on top of my boyfriend and I still working our full-time (and occasional overtime) jobs during the daytime. Working a stressful day just to return to nights full of even more worry has created two exhausting weeks for me. And this is probably true for everyone, but when you live with someone, if you and your partner are both having bad times, the situation is magnified exponentially. I hate wallowing in misery, stress, and sadness, but sometimes during this time frame, it felt like there was no other option.
On this, the most glorious day of the week, I feel desperately in need of a very deep, calming breath. I feel like I need to put everything in my mind on “pause” or “mute.” I need to close my eyes, and not see the worries of everyday life painted in murals on the backs of my eyelids.
This weekend will be spent with me immersed in self-care. I have no plans, except to curl up with several good books, forget about all of my outstanding book reviews or lack of book photos and Instagram posts, not worry about the dentist, and breathe deeply. I’m going to stay up late when it suits me and sleep in when I feel like it. I’m going to cuddle with my (hopefully) happy puppy, sleep in my bed for the first time in weeks, and enjoy every minute of the quiet, peaceful solitude that I crave after a bout of bad times.
Self-care can be anything you need it to be. It can be six-hour naps. It can be canceling plans. It can be treating yourself to a pedicure and a sugary-sweet croissant because, hey, you’ve earned it. Nowadays, “snowflake” has become a colloquial dirty word in the U.S. of Assholes. You are not a snowflake, but your self-care will never be identical to someone else’s.
Find what centers you at the end of a long day. Find the thing that makes your chest expand, your ribs open up, and allows you to take that deep breath. Find what makes your inner spark ignite after the world has tried to burn you out.