Vol. 9: When Self-Care isn't Enough

Vol. 9: When Self-Care isn't Enough

In the past months, we've used this space as a place to share all of the feel-good habits and routines from some inspiring women. We've chatted about sleep, exercise, non-exercise movement, nutrition and mindset. We've talked about our morning routines and bedtime routines. BUT, what happens when we're doing all of the things, and still not feeling our best. Today, we're talking about mental health.

It was the winter of 2020 and early spring of 2021 when I found myself in this uncomfortable place. Haircuts were a luxury, the word lock-down was a regular part of our vobaulary and birthday parties were happening on driveways regardless of the temperature. This was a period of time where I felt like I was doing all of the things that I *should* be doing to take care of myself and nothing was working: sleep, meditation, walking outdoors, doing yoga, lifting weights, eating nutritious food, taking my supplements. Granted, these were not normal times evidenced by the mask-litter on the sidewalks, the too frequent trips to the LCBO, a little too much family time, and our too-regular Mcflurry order on Ubereats.

At the time I was meeting with my therapist every few weeks. I remember saying that I felt like I was going through the motions of my day. I felt that I was doing very little, and not accomplishing much each day, but even that felt like a huge energy expenditure for me. I was exhausted, and emotionally flat. I was describing my main emotion at that time as stress. Despite this, I was functional and under the radar as far as my family was concerned. I was fortunate to have a mental health professional looking out for me.

I remember my therapist suggesting that maybe I want to try some medication. For months I pushed back. I had so many thoughts: medication is for other people, not me. I *should* be able to feel better because I make taking care of myself a priority. What about the side effects? Other people have it way worse than me, I need to get it together.

Finally during a therapy session I broke down into tears. This was the first time I had cried in many months and was finally able to acknowledge that I couldn't continue to feel this way. It felt like a cliche-rock-bottom type moment (cue the ugly cry): I was doing all of the self-care that my therapist suggested (sleep hygeine and exercise) and all of the other self-care I could think of. Nothing was working. I reluctantly agreed to start taking an anti-depressant, I thought, temporarily.

This choice has improved my quality of life immeasurably. It's only in hindsight I can say that I was suffering needlessly and silently for too long. Today, instead of reluctance, I'm thankful to be able to make the choice to take medication for my mental health.

I'm sharing this story, because it's important to realize that taking care of our mental health goes far beyond self care. Talking to a mental health professional is invaluable. I know that there are other women out there who are struggling and deserve to feel good. What works for me isn't always going to be what works for you, but you do deserve to feel good. Keep reaching for that.

xo Justine 

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