Sunday, February 26, 2017

Mama's Muse: Taking Care of Mama - Six Things to Remember

For today's muse, I want to reach out to all of those other Mama's out there who are going through a tough time...no matter what the reason is. It could be family issues, personal experiences, health issues, children problems, another cause or a combination of these. No matter what the base of the problem is, it's very important not to lose you in the process of getting through it all.

Now, I don't talk about certain things, such as my health, very often here on the blog because I don't like being in the spotlight. But I felt it was time to share today.

I had what I call an 'awakening'. I hadn't been feeling well for several months, so I went for a physical. Long story short, I found out I had to battle another round of cervical cancer. Went for test after test, doctor after doctor and sent to expert after expert. In the long run, I ended up getting treatment early enough that it didn't get too far, but I found out a multitude of other health issues I have to deal with that are, ironically enough, way more serious than what I had to go through with my cancer.

What a shocker to find out that not only do I have many issues to deal with all at the same time, each with its own treatment methods, effects on the rest of the body, etc., but that I've had these issues my entire life and just finding out about them now. Let's just say although I'm dealing with everything the best I can while working, taking care of a house and a husband and children, admittedly I did not deal with things earlier in this discovery as well as I could have.

So here are the six most important things I have realized in times of stress, turmoil and challenges that seem too overwhelming to climb over:

1)  Listen to your body: First and foremost, you need to pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you. When you try pushing yourself too much when you aren't well, you'll only make yourself feel worse. This was a tough lesson for me because I am normally a super active person who does four things at once, which is necessary with four busy children plus a husband always wanting to be on the go. But I found, and still do find, that when I tried to do things the way I had before, I often got sick. What good is it to push getting things done when you are sick for three days afterward? Do what you can, when you can and leave the rest for later.

2) Accept and ask for help, when needed. Anyone will tell you that I am one tough girl to 'help'. Some call it stubbornness, I call it overly strong independence. I have been on my own for a very long time so to accept help, especially when I didn't ask for it, was very hard. But you have to realize people aren't offering to help because they think you are weak or that you aren't able to do things. Only because they want to make things easier for you while you are trying to heal yourself, and they care. Don't be afraid to ask for that help when you need it, and be gracious enough to accept it when it's offered.

3) Direct emotions where they truly need to go: It's okay to be frustrated, angry, sad, withdrawn or even resentful. But always be sure you know where those emotions are coming from and who, or what, they are supposed to be given to. Taking things out on those closest to you (or even people you don't know) just isn't a good path to go down. Negative emotions trigger negative emotions and one thing you don't need when you are trying to get your body back to normal is to have a toxic environment surrounding you. If you feel as though you are about to explode into the negative realm, walk away and get some alone time. The people around you may not totally understand what you're going through, but they may have some idea of why you get cranky sometimes.

4) Talk about it. One thing I learned was that if you don't reach out and talk about what you're going through and feeling with those closest to you, they worry more. And, honestly, they feel as helpless about what you're going through as you do, in a different way. You don't need to go into any deep details, just give enough information so they can say, "Okay. I get it." I wasn't, and am still not, very good at this one but I'm trying. I've always been on my own during times like this, so having a huge crowd of people wanting to listen, help and talk has been very overwhelming. But I am truly blessed to have people who care enough to want to be there.

5) Cope in the healthiest ways possible: This is also very important. 'Coping' means you find a way to get you through your tough time. It should involve something healthy like yoga, relaxation, a walk, reading a book, writing...relaxing things. These are activities that counteract the negative feelings that brew up. THAT is good coping. Drinking, drugs, excessive spending, smoking and other such activities are crutches. They are things that we turn to that may seem like they are helping, but can actually cause more harm than good. And do you really need to get over a habit or addiction on top of trying to get over your trauma or illness? No.

6) Get as much sleep and healthy food as possible: Sleep and food deprivation, even in the healthiest person, can lead to a weak body. Your mind isn't as sharp, you may feel weaker than usual, your moods will alter, your tolerance level will plummet, you find frustration with the simplest tasks and the list goes on. Just like in point #1, do what you can do when you can do it, then rest. If you can't sleep, even simply laying down and being motionless for awhile helps. Trust me. As for healthy eating, eat even when you aren't hungry. You don't have to eat much, just remember to put food in your system that counts. That means healthy food over things like chips, fries and other junk. What you put in, helps your body do what it has to do.

It's going to be a long road for me, but I am positive. I've given up my negative coping, embraced the help I'm given (most of the time) and I am forcing myself to eat, even when my appetite isn't there.

Things will get better.

For all of us.

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