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Self-Care is Weird. And Hard. And Very Important.

I don’t mean to misrepresent myself as an unhappy person. I’m not. I could make you a really long list of things that are Incredibly Awesome. My work life, my social life, my romantic life – Autumn 2014 has been really kind to me.

And yet. I get depressed sometimes. I don’t mean I get sad, but that I will slowly stop functioning until I’m just not moving and telling myself that it’s cool, I’ll get started any second now. I get listless, and I stop doing things even though I want to do them. I’m not at all unhappy, just nonfunctional.

Because I’m actually feeling pretty happy, I just tell myself that I suck at doing things. Then, eventually, over a period of time during which I berate myself for my perceived failure to exist, I get unhappy. Left unchecked, this leads to me laying in bed telling myself that it’s cool, there’s no reason to live anyway.

The Good News

It doesn’t get that far anymore — at least, it hasn’t in a long time. In the last 18 months I’ve learned to implement a series of routines and checks that help me realize that I’m hovering at step one: not functioning.

The first thing that stops is the self-care. And at about the time I realized I was sitting on the couch eating candy for breakfast, I thought, Wait a second. This isn’t normal. I don’t like this. I realized that my living space was untended, that I was just staring at my computer, and wait a second, when did this happen?

The Great News

I’m fine. I’ve showered, gotten dressed, and cleaned up my space. More importantly, I’ve reflected on when the self-care fell apart (I got overwhelmed trying to balance freelance deadlines, and failed in some cases) and what I need to do to get myself back in order.

The Bad News

I hate that this is how my brain works. It can make me incredibly hard to live with, as my ex-husband could attest to. And he tried. He tried really hard to get through to me when I couldn’t be reasoned with. At the same time, he and I triggered a lot of terrible things in each other, and I couldn’t observe myself objectively until we were disengaged from that. While we’re both a lot happier apart, I still get sad that I could make another person that miserable. I’m constantly afraid it could happen again. I will become some soul-sucking creature that just makes people wish they’d spent less time trying to be near me.

It’s also scary to realize how easily I can sort of just break. I have seen myself toughen up and deal with bad situations as best I can. I have also seen myself sit around and not deal with bad situations. And while I like to believe that I’m in control over my brain function in this regard, I know that it could change.

I’m mostly just parsing in writing: a thing that helps me function. Which is why I’ve been maintaining blogs for about as long as I’ve had the Internet. To make this post useful, though, I’d like to remind you: Self-care matters. You matter. A lot. Stop for a moment to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.