Side Effects of Self-Care: Part One

If I may, let me begin by acknowledging: we are all finding new ways to approach and navigate this lifetime. Some of us really hate being told what to do–but–some of us would really appreciate it if someone would– just please– tell us what to do. We are learning much regarding our level of self-reliance or whether we ever knew the definition of the term. And at times, I think we all would like to fly away for a while. Literally…sprout wings.

… a fascinating lesson in the subconscious and symbolic significance of [our] scars.

Flight of thoughts

As I begin to imagine re-opening my business in an entirely new location with entirely new possibilities for growth and diversity–not only am I reminded that I still need to take some business courses– it propels me to think of all the ways this pandemic has taught me– despite my having lived for over 50 years; given birth to three children; had a career as an ICU/ER nurse; created a space devoted to the idea that regular therapeutic massage is imperative–I still have a lot to learn about self-care and self-awareness.

…a precarious balance between implosion and explosion.

Many nights I have suffered through morbid insomnia as I lay wide-eyed wondering how many people are actively atrophying and decaying despite being “alive & well”. As I roamed the halls during my down time, I saw signs of my own health’s disintegration, but I couldn’t seem to find a focal point.

The psycho & the Somatic: a romance

A laundry list of symptoms washed over me in the form of sharp, wave-like headaches–to generalized fatigue–to clouded thinking– to inaccessible and/or difficult to articulate bursts of creativity– to an exacerbated underlying dyslexia– to tears streaming down my face without warning. I felt precariously balanced between implosion and explosion.

Gradually, I started to feel aches and pains where none existed before—a rigidity and fine grinding sensation upon movements that involve the bony apparatus of my sternum and collar bone—an aching in between my scapula that extended into my posterior thorax—another, this time dull, ache in my right inguinal region—a sudden inability to push myself up from squatting to standing secondary to pain in my right hip. And, later–armed with my trusty thermometer–found that I couldn’t shake a persistent, daily, low-grade fever ranging from 99.5-100.8.

I have an athletic build that, more often than not, is padded by a somewhat robust layer of adipose tissue depending on the season. But, when I am busy as a massage practitioner, my metabolism responds quickly to the concetric and eccentric fine motor activity that accompanies the isometrics involved whilst committing to a barefoot warrior pose and controlled breathing pattern for hours on end. It is demanding, but extremely fulfilling work. I come home tired, yet invigorated.

I know aging is inevitable, but this new onset of symptoms seemed completely out of my norm, premature, and–frankly–more than somewhat off-putting.

Initially, I did what most healthcare providers secretly do [self-diagnose outside our scope of practice because the time we have spent working within the confines of a hospital have encumbered our want to ever go back there as a patient].

Additionally, I did what many laypeople with access to the internet do [type in a list of symptoms on a search bar– then try to narrow ailments down to one obscure– usually terminal–cause].

So, as one standing only a few steps back can clearly see I had begun to create a paranoid delusion based upon no evidence—only a series of correlations. I had actually allowed myself to seriously consider fiction. I then treated this finding with denial–which did nothing but place a time-stamp on my psyche– memorializing the day I gifted myself an anxiety-inducing false-belief.

None of which needed to exist.

…All completely made up in my brain.

Which I just have to think–for the sake of my own sanity– is a perfectly normal phenomenon… and/or a byproduct of insomnia.

There… all better.

self-help for dummies: the truth

But…. what if I had taken a different approach from the very beginning? What if I had remembered that I am a person that can ascertain a few substantial facts. I am completely capable of thoroughly assessing my own medical history. Surely, I could study it against current environmental factors and put everything into a rational context that didn’t involve anything terminal.

Well, as luck would have it… I did.

1. I have self-medicated with alcohol on a regular basis.

2. I have gone consecutive days without drinking more than 3 glasses of clear water.

3. I have finished my dinner on the couch in front of the television between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. for the past nine months.

4. My yoga mat has spent most of its time in the backseat of my Jeep. [I don’t go anywhere.]

5. My home, albeit clean, is disorganized.

6. Based upon what I have allowed to be processed and implanted within myself both emotionally and physiologically, I am not wholly organic.

7. In the last year, I have stopped and started and stopped and have been scared to start again.

8. I have experienced a physical manifestation of anxiety I have only known existed vicariously through my patients–in text books it is called: impending doom.

9. I have scars–both physical and emotional. I acknowledge them, but for the most part I don’t spend much time trying to deconstruct and/or remodel.

[insert wisdom here]

I’m supposing when one reads the aforementioned list of symptoms in the order in which they were presented, it would seem that I was actively falling apart. I think we all tend to do this to some extent–binge on negative-perception without cleansing our palate with an occasional swish of extenuating-circumstance.

In an effort to interject some context, I went back in my mind to the last time I remembered really feeling well. Surprisingly, I found it was when I was busiest in my studio–performing 4-5 massages a day.

When my studio was open, not only was I meeting or exceeding my daily physiological requirements by virtue of performing the work, but I received the same benefits as my clients did from the healthful organic massage & essential oil combinations, human interaction, meditation, and music.

I walked myself through everything my body interacted with during a typical massage and came to the lovely realization that my work was the source of my good health on every level. Although it may sound strange, I began to think of my unbalanced state as a sort of withdrawal from “the work”.

In order to improve my quality of life and protect my body from a virus that was killing people all over the world, I had to recreate this environment for myself.

And therein lies the rub…

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