So I hit pause in the name of #selfcare
I didn’t travel, binge on artisan coffee and handcrafted cocktails with my friends, or get my nails and hair done to superficially fix myself. Shopping was off my list as well, all of these felt like temporary distractions that made me feel better, but didn’t address the underlying emotions that caused the existential crisis. Something had to be done, other than taking time off to travel which again included planning, and being present, being happy. I wanted a physical space to express my angst, other than my journal.
“You are not depressed, you look happy to me”. There is nothing wrong with me, and I am not depressed. I have a job that I love, I work on projects I love, my children and dog bring me joy, and my husband is with me through all moments, happy – sad and in between. But still, the cultural upbringing and my own personality never let me stop and smell the roses. One item off checklist meant two were added, one step taken meant a mile was added. Other than that damn license (more on that when I feel comfortable enough to share), checklist makes my life go! I can’t imagine waking up one day and not knowing what’s on the agenda.
After thinking, and rethinking the decision, when the fatigue could no longer be tolerated, and I had to repair and heal before it was too late, I took unpaid time-off. Without a plan. I woke up without coffee, if I was groggy, I let me be, if I wanted to red a book in my pajamas until noon, I let me do it…. I slept without a glass of wine, I went for days without makeup, and didn’t do anything I didn’t feel like doing. It was good, to go back to teenage lifestyle, and think what I would do when I was sixteen. I didn’t eat like a teenager though…
I spent lot of time walking in the sands of Newport Beach pier. It’s become my special place. A place where I go to walk alone, feel the wet sand on my feet, and the salty water, hear the waves crashing, and sit down below the pier with my eyes closed to clear my mind in the sounds of the ocean. It’s not easy to get up and leave on a Tuesday morning, leaving a sink full of dishes, unread book and other “productive” things that I could have done, but I did it, and it brought me joy and energy to do other things.
I also went to a nutritionist. I have tried a diet or two once in my early thirties when I started slipping away from Size 2, but never went to a nutritionist because it was something I thought I could google and find out myself. I am glad I went. She talked about pulling myself out of fight or flight mode, about mental and physical balance, and nourishing body to repair and heal, and my adrenaline and cortisol, and helped me with simple recipes that I could make without feeling like Martha Stewart.
Reading never stops, except on my sick days when cognitive skills are so bad, I re-read the same sentence four times to understand and lose interest eventually. I read Becoming Us, I read plenty of blogs, I read about latest tech, I read about Start ups, I read about investors – funding and all that jazz, and I read about what means to have autoimmune diseases, and why it’s important to slow down and breathe, before it’s too late. Me before anyone else, if I wanted to do everything for everyone I love.
Mental health. I have moments of existential crisis hit me when I am busy with work, but this time, it hit me when I had time, I could attend to every fleeting thought. There it was, the thought that my life has to matter. And this time it went beyond “washing teacups, designer handbags and sunglasses”. The ocean reminded me that I came from the other side in search of better opportunities. In search of a better life. I have done a lot, according to the Indian parent checklist, but this could all be done going 200 miles south from home to Bengaluru. What was my purpose? What next. Where do I go from here. Am I headed where I want to end up. It has to be worth living half a world away from the people I love the most. I explored a lot of options, and always, the mantra will be to do what I love doing so that I can be present 💯 More details on that in coming days…
That being said, is this healing and self care, hypernourish a privilege? What happens if you can’t “heal yourself” with power smoothies and organic bone broths infused with turmeric? Are you forced to take medications that include side effects as “death” if you insurance covers prescriptions but not preventive measures? What happens to single parents? Their stress is obviously more that parenting with a partner… Do they have the luxury of taking time off without pay? Everyone burns out at one point or another. Mine happened exactly 4 months before 20th anniversary of my graduation. There are gray areas when it comes to physical and mental health, where you don’t qualify for a disability check, but if you burn at the current rate, you will soon be sick enough to be on disability….
How are we addressing that in workplace?