My Self-Care Journey

Over the past few weeks I have been reflecting on my journey with self care and I thought I would share it here.

In high school and throughout university, I was obsessed with being busy, to the point where I would completely fill and overwhelm my schedule just to stay busy. I didn’t want to have any free time or time just to myself. Everything had to be scheduled in and my days had to go according to schedule. I thought being busy meant being cool and being busy meant being successful.

In high school this meant joining every club and doing anything extra-curricular I could. I ran for co-president (a leadership position) of my high school when I was in grade 11 and I ended up losing. I put so much into getting to that point: into getting the nomination to run for co-president, so much into planning, so much into running my campaign. Then when I lost I was completely burnt out and I didn’t want to do anything anymore.

Going into grade 12 then, I knew I was planning on going to post-secondary school afterwards, and I needed to focus on school a little more. So I stepped down from one of my leadership roles in one of the clubs I was apart of. I decided to focus on my classes, on being a stage manager for all dramatic and theatrical events, and being on student council. Which was still a lot. There were times where I didn’t handle that very well either. Feeling burnt-out and overwhelmed was common.

Throughout high school, teachers would tell me that the amount of time and effort I was putting into clubs at school and everything extra-curricular I did would get me some kind of scholarship, but I got nothing. I got two awards from my high school: most involved and most likely to change the world. I don’t regret being so involved in high school but I wish I knew how to handle it all a lot better.

In university, I was trying to balance being a full-time student, commuting to and from school, working a part-time job, sometimes two part-time jobs, and sometimes three part-time jobs, while trying to have a social life. I didn’t balance all of that well.

Then I got sick in my third year of university and self-care had to become a priority. Rest had to become a priority. There was no other option but to rest. And eventually, there was nothing I could do but rest, from being chronically fatigued. From May 2015 to May 2016, when I was receiving chemotherapy, my body needed the most selfish care. Even beyond May of this year, into my recovery period, I had to grow to be content in that period of rest. I had to accept it. It wasn’t easy to go from being so busy and having a full schedule to basically doing nothing. Now, I am so thankful for my period of rest because it allowed me to  connect with God and to connect with myself in ways that I will always carry with me.

When I was sick, self-care was something that was so important to me, and I made it a priority. I allowed myself to be selfish about my self-care because my body needed self-care to be a top priority because I was injecting it with chemotherapy three times a week.

If I’m being honest with myself, now that I’m done chemo and back into working and on a schedule, I haven’t been taking very good care of myself lately, and my body is paying for it in more than ways than one.

Last week I was diagnosed with a syndrome in my fingers that causes them to go numb and cold in response to stress and cold temperatures. I have no control over my fingers going numb and turning completely white.

This weekend, Justin and I were out grocery shopping, and I had mittens on but I could feel my fingers losing feeling. So I took my mittens off to see my fingers turned completely white with no feeling in them. They then proceeded to turn blue. I stood there, in the grocery store, staring at my blue fingers and I looked up at Justin with tears in my eyes.

I want to be done having these health concerns and scares. I just went through an excruciating season of fighting for my life and now I want to be normal. I don’t want to have anything else to worry about. I don’t want to have more doctor’s and specialist appointments. I want to be healthy.

I had blood work and now I’m being sent to a rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in musculoskeletal diseases) to further assess my case concerning my fingers.

A cause of this syndrome is stress and I’ve been slipping into old habits and my body is trying to tell me something.

I’m adjusting to my current life of working basically everyday and planning a wedding and I am starting to realize (again) just how important self-care is.

Self-care is so important and it isn’t selfish.

Overwhelming your schedule just to keep yourself busy isn’t cool. What’s cool is being healthy in mind, body and spirit.

Hope you are all doing well,

4 thoughts on “My Self-Care Journey

  1. Please do take care of yourself. It is very hard when there are so many things going on in your life. Meditation helps alot if you can practice this. I know that at times I just run out of steam too. Keeping busy is good, but keeping to busy is not. We do not know what lies ahead and maybe a good thing that we don’t, but you are important, always remember that. I am so happy that you have a wedding to plan for. It will be perfect and you will be a most beautiful bride. Hugs to you. Lenore

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  2. Hey Mikayla, I have Raynaud’s too – fret not it’s probably just from the interferon – mine started right after I finished treatment! I keep a little heat pack and bought good gloves for skiing!! It also just happens to a lot of females in their 20’s – I have quite a few girlfriends with it.

    I’ve been contemplating these same things you have. I too was a busy person pre-treatment and post treatment have resumed my ways. I have a better grasp of self care than before – turning down a late evening out when I’m getting sick with a cold is always the better choice 😉

    I think we’re quick to find causation for things – did my hectic lifestyle cause my cancer? Will drinking green juice and meditating keep me cancer free? There’s an interesting book by Gabor Mate – When the Body Says No, that attempts to address these issues. And I don’t think it is straight forward. But I do think we like to feel like we have control, when maybe sometimes we don’t!

    Life is short and wild and complicated and I’ve tried to focus less on my control over the disease and just have been enjoying all that I’ve been given!!

    Hope this helps a bit and keep those hands warm!!!

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    1. Hey Sam!

      Really? You still have it now/it hasn’t gone away yet? I asked my doctor if it could be from Interferon but they couldn’t say for sure because it is common among young women.

      I totally understand what you’re saying. The control part is everything and I still hate, after all this time, not having it! Great advice though, thank you!

      I’m also going to get some little heating packs and keep them with me! Thanks 🙂

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      1. I definitely still have it, but that along with my nerve symptoms post interferon are WAY better a year out – I think it took me that long to get my exercise tolerance back too!

        I’m quite convinced it is from the interferon though, I found a few case reports about it, because it was not an issue for me pre-treatment and you having it adds to the evidence!!! It’s been so weird following your experience through treatment as it was so similar to mine, and I’m SO GRATEFUL you’ve wrapped up and are back to life 🙂

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