Oh, Sylvia. How right you were.
So, after feeling incredibly overwhelmed last night – to the point of talking to friends about it, crying, staying up until gone midnight ‘thinking’, I’ve had such a better day today. It’s been the perfect example of how I should be treating myself during recovery. Over the past few weeks I haven’t really been taking care of myself as well as I should be. I’ve been lurching from one day to the next, consumed in what’s going on at work, my relationship, my friend’s lives. Everything… but me. Mindfulness is such an underrated and valuable tool, and I mean that. I didn’t read it in some ‘dummy’s guide to Borderline Personality Disorder’ book that was published in the 80s – I’ve never really found self-help books to be… well, that helpful – I’ve learnt it, and I’ve used it, and I’ve lived it. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone – not just as a tool for recovery, but for life.
After initially distracting myself with Batman: Arkham City (fantastic game, incidentally), I approached a steaming hot bath. I slowly got in, noticing how good the hot water felt on my body (gosh this sounds like it’s getting a bit rude, doesn’t it?) and focusing on those physical sensations. I laid there for ages, feeling every bit of stress leave me as I stopped thinking about everything around me, and just was. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t easy – especially not at first. It’s a learned skill and you have to be committed to practicing it. You can do it, though. It’s a wonderful technique that has genuinely helped me so much.
I’ve also painted my nails. I know that’s a really small and insignificant thing, but it’s taking care of myself. Maybe not in a serious kind of way, but those little things are important. Just that action of doing something for yourself can make you feel that little bit better. I first started noticing this when I was going through Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). I started moisturising more often – particularly my arms, where my self-harm scars are. Oh, and in case you were wondering – I painted them in Aqua Glitter. My nails, I mean. Not my arms.
So, in summary – look after yourself. Learn about mindfulness – you don’t have to, but I honestly can’t recommend it enough. Paint your nails (you too, boys, if you like). Lose yourself in sensations (oh my). Be incredibly silly whenever possible. And be proud of every little step.