Taking Care of Myself

So, the Ick is early this year (Seasonal Affective Disorder, or seasonal depression – I like calling it the Ick better).  So, *sigh* I get to start the winter routine, with at least one addition – I have a SAD lamp for work and may have meds within the next few weeks.  We’ll see if those help.

I’m going to address the Ick more specifically in another post, because I think it’s a bit of a distraction from the point of this one.

I anticipate this year will be a return to the standard pattern (that being Ick minus generalized depression) that I saw before Minx died – the only aberrations in that pattern having been in the last few years since she died.  But I have learned in those years how better to take care of myself, what is soothing for me.

The Routine:

  • Making sure to get calories in me in the morning (makes it easier to keep energy levels stable) even if I’m not hungry.
  • Upping my Vitamin D dose (I run lower in the winter than summer)
  • Taking magnesium every day (cannot take it for 3 hours after my thyroid med doses, so this is tricky)
  • Getting my ass outside every day, even if only for about 15 minutes
  • Getting whatever exercise I can, even if I don’t want to.  Logical brain gets to remind emotional brain that exercise might not feel worth it in the short run, but in the long run it helps stabilize energy levels and moods.  Which is good.
  • Talking myself out of anxiety related decisions – everything is fine, everybody is fine with you (unless they actively say otherwise), your job is stable and they need you there, and you have a great chosen family and partners who care about you.
  • Reminding myself that it is okay to say “no” to the things I don’t have the energy to do

Self Care

What is self care for me?  What activities can I do to help myself?  In no particular order:

  • Baths or burying myself in blankets.  Warmth can be a hard thing for me to achieve, so it’s amazing when I can get it.
  • Eating things that go beyond my calorie allotment for the day or that may not be “healthy”.  I have the philosophy that if I’m craving something, that’s my body’s way of telling me that it needs me to consume more.  And I’m trying to get away from the socially ingrained idea that my body is the enemy (even though, with an auto-immune condition, it kinda literally is…).
  • Manicures and pedicures.  That kind of pampering can be amazing.
  • Dressing for comfort rather than appearance, if I need it.  Sometimes dressing up can be soothing.  Other times it triggers dysmorphia and that makes me feel like garbage.  So, sometimes this means having a change of clothing on hand, just in case.
  • Reading.  Having books on hand that may not be high-brow intellectual, but still make me feel good to read.  Preferably series, because I can go through books rapidly.
  • Writing.  Even if it’s just a tidbit in a journal or blog, this makes me feel wonderful.
  • Talking to those near and dear to me.  Especially by electronic means, as social gatherings can be super stressful if they’re too large or have people whose energies I’m not familiar with.
  • Consuming various altering substances (usually in moderation).  Caffeine when I need it at work.  Alcohol, in public, after work.  Pot (I live in a state where it’s legal) when I want all the distractions and constant thoughts to go away for a bit, or when I need it for pain purposes.
  • Comforting textures and sounds.  Music from my childhood, soft stuffed animals, smooth skin, cuddling etc.
  • Meditation or just mindful breathing/thinking.  Brings me into the moment, and moments are far easier to deal with than long chunks of time.



Chosen Family

Today I have been thinking about what I want to write about.  Maybe consent or feminism?  I do have a lot to say about those, but there’s a lot I’ve already said, so I want something else, something a bit closer to home.

A lot of people have a chosen family because their biological family was shit or they’re physically distant.  This is not the case for me – my bio family mostly lives within a couple hours driving distance on the heaviest of traffic days and they’re mostly ok.  My parents raised my sister and I well.  There’s a few decisions that they made and a few pieces of their child-rearing philosophy I disagree with, but overall, they are/were sane and intelligent parents.

I have a chosen family because when I became an adult I grew apart and beyond what I grew up with.  I learned about identity politics and started identifying outside of what I knew was a possibility as a child – as a feminist, bisexual/queer, as non-monogamous (eventually polyamorous), and now as genderqueer/fluid – and with that came people who challenged me to grow beyond childhood, beyond a childhood understanding of the world.  I learned that love is not necessarily romantic and can take on so many forms.

My chosen family, on the basest level, are the people I choose to have in my life.  I remember reading once about the idea of love being a series of choices; waking up each morning and asking yourself, “Do I still want to be with this person/these people today, whatever that means today?”, and confronting what that means if the answer is hesitant or negative.  My chosen family is made up of the people that I keep saying yes to those question – maybe not every single day, maybe missing days, but a great majority of the days.

Seeing these families in action surrounds me with a sort of compersive love, like a safe hug.  And it isn’t even the big things.  Lately it has been smaller things – picking people up from the airport, spending time with them at the hospital, putting together a schedule to take care of someone who needs it, and with my LLC, building plans for a future home together by getting together for dinner, drinks, and nonsense with our business.

I love it when I feel safe enough with people to expand my chosen family – not just by taking on new partners, new lovers, but taking on the people near them, my metas, their metas, those they have chosen.  And I like it when I can help expand other people’s families as well.

This is not to say that this is the perfect family form.  We still have conflicts like any family, sometimes we drive each other up the wall, and sometimes we fall apart a bit, but that choice is what matters – I can choose not to have someone as part of my family if the relationship is too toxic, or distance myself a bit if I think that the relationship is not currently healthy, but may be salvageable in the long run (and is worth the effort to do so).

I love you all, in some way, and I hope to see that grow and change every day.