Starting the year well with self-care at the forefront, but then handed a big bushel of life’s lemons – another miscarriage and the depression that follows.
I’m letting you in on a little secret: I’ve never been particularly good at self-care. My husband often says that I have the “zoomies”: a kind of restlessness to zoom around the apartment and finish off every little mundane task before even thinking about taking a breather for myself and relaxing. Restless leg syndrome? Haha. I have restless LIFE syndrome.
I guess that’s why I vowed to make self-care a priority this year. And to be fair, I had a pretty good start. Looking back at the early months of 2019, I had a good streak of attending the gym. Of reading some of those books that gathered dust in the shelves. Of attending weekly yoga classes and clearing my head. It felt selfish at first, but I was enjoying myself and I felt awesome for a while. In a fit of “I’m going to make everything new”, I even deleted my portfolio and sought to review my past design projects to also have a fresh start with my online presence. I was on a roll.
As a couple, we took the step towards realising something that we’d only ever had talked about: welcoming a dog into our family. Of course, I was the one who had doubts that we could make it work, but in the end, my husband’s enthusiastic “we should do more of what makes us happy” speech made all doubts disappear. After reviewing our options, we said “yes” to a blue eyed ball of fluff that would soon be the cause for chewed-on sofa cushions and sleepless nights. But yes, he does indeed make us happy (when he’s not farting under the table – dog owners, you know what I mean).
Been there, done that.
The time after we met our pup (at 3 weeks old), until we would take him home (at 8 weeks) was an emotional rollercoaster. Life dealt us another pregnancy loss card, culminating in a short hospital stay just the day before we picked him up from the breeder. Being the “zoomie” person that I am, I never thought to pick myself up first. In any case, the puppy had its own needs that had to be met, and we had to adjust our “life of 2” to a “life of 2 + dog”. The possibility of a “life of 3 + dog”? Don’t even try to think about it. My physical and emotional state came second to me.
Self-care? What is this word even.
Before I knew it, I found myself in a nice, cozy state of depression. The toughest thing about gradually slipping into this dark place was realising every single warning sign and not doing a single thing about it. To emotionally deteriorate, and be fully aware of it, while actively letting it happen… I felt stupid, not doing anything about it. The same mechanical puppet-like feeling that accompanied me through my teenage and university depression years was back. But this time, I had a much harder time reaching out for help.
For a while, my mood was swinging back and forth between anger and depression – totally skipping denial, bargaining, and – of course – acceptance.
Life handed me lemons and I was eating them unpeeled.
To this day I have no solid idea why this whole episode hit me so hard – or let’s say harder then the ones before.
Maybe because we had to make plans for a “life of 3” so early? But then of course, midwives in Munich are rare and you’re practically forced to.
Maybe because we were a little too happy about it? But who wouldn’t be if you’ve been trying for so long.
And just maybe because caring for the puppy didn’t even leave me with the chance of slowing down and healing. But then again, I was never good at taking care of myself.
In the end, reaching out to friends and family wasn’t the key to getting better. Every well-meant consoling word felt like a bromide to me, even if they were heartfelt. I wasn’t ready to let go of those damn lemons. To this day, my online portfolio is in a perpetual “coming soon” state. The laundry is piling up, and there are times when I want to trade the pup in for a goldfish. I find myself drifting off sometimes. I’m still not totally over it I guess.
Self care for me at this point is working my way out of this situation one lemon at a time, awkwardly squeezing them with my bare hands. One of the hardest lemons is the one that requires me to curb my “zoomies”. Allowing myself some simple time-outs to do nothing, while not worrying about things that I could have done instead.
It seems that while I initially set out to find a more authentic version of myself focusing on self-care in 2019, I’m now halfway through the year, back to square one, and learning just to breathe again. Maybe I should have gone for this simple task first? Whoops, there’s that toxic “should” again. Okay, let’s try this once more:
Dear 2019, I want to learn how to breathe again.
[Title image collage “Miscarriage Lemons” by bsteis]