I have experienced the highs and lows of the mental health system, but eventually I met the therapist who “made the difference” and she introduced me to self-care. I couldn’t bear it, understand it or do it, as I’d always avoided uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. I was much better at berating and criticising myself than I was at being kind to myself. Self-care felt completely unnatural and alien. But little by little I started to understand that with help and practice I could start to adopt a new way of thinking.
In 2016 I became unwell after the birth of my 3rd child and had to spend several months in hospital. I was fortunate enough to be admitted to a mother and baby unit although the nearest bed was 80 miles away from home. While I was away some friends sent me a box full of goodies- magazines, chocolate, lip balm, etc. The contents were lovely, but of course what I remember the most is the true gesture of thought and kindness. Sometimes we don’t know exactly what struggles others are going through but we can still try and connect, even if we can’t see them or speak to them. Feeling that someone genuinely cares can make all the difference.
Self-care for me is accepting that recovery is a process not a full-stop, and I am a service user not a mental health professional. I have created self-care matters because I believe it’s the small things that have the biggest impact and it’s the little things that can make or break someone’s day.