by Aubrey Boggs, Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator
CONTENT NOTE: Death of parent
This year has been, in a word, difficult for me. I have found my mental health being pressed from every angle. In January, I had pneumonia which didn’t resolve for months. Recently I discovered that I have two other health conditions I was unaware of. Then, at the beginning of August, my mother died in a tragic accident at the age of 56.
This has been the most difficult year of my life. My personal wellness is being challenged by circumstances I have no control over. This has meant pushing myself to survive more than I ever have before. My anxiety is through the roof. I don’t feel well, and it’s been a while since that was the case. I cannot ignore that, and I have been processing how I take care of myself when I feel like I simply can’t.
Now I know that I often ignore my own needs for the needs of others, to the point where I am ineffective and burnt out. I see that I often don’t pay enough attention to my self-care until I am aware that I am burning out. Realizing that self-care cannot only be reactionary, but must proactive to be effective, is essential to keeping myself well.
It is important to realize I cannot give all of myself away if I want to keep going. This year has taught me that self-care, while never easy, is much more doable when I am relatively well. My life has not been absent of difficult times, far from it, but no other year has brought as much perspective and insight into who I am.
Most importantly, I am learning how very much my wellness matters. It is easy to discuss self-care in an abstract manner; it is much more difficult and much more important to address my self-care as a necessary and immediate need. Sometimes my self-care is survival, but ideally it wouldn’t stay that way for too long. Finding ways, even small and seemingly insignificant ways, to broaden my self-care and resilience is essential to moving from surviving to thriving.
I am learning to be patient with myself. Grief is a process that is different for everyone. Learning to let that process be what it needs to be has been essential to my wellness. While I don’t expect to stop grieving any time soon, I also don’t think it would be healthy for me to. However, I do expect that I will learn how to adjust my self-care and resilience to this experience, to the place I am in now. This year has been the worst year of my life, but I have hope that I will keep surviving.
I will seek out my wellness through the lens of self-compassion. This process will be constantly evolving. Many individuals I’ve connected with, through the shared experience of losing a parent, have expressed that their path of grief was constantly changing. For now, I must accept and honor that process. I don’t know what next year will look like for me, but I will move into it with the hope of more compassion and understanding. My recovery path may look different, but it is no less worthwhile.
Online Grief Resources: https://complicatedgrief.columbia.edu/resources/resources-public/websites/
Colorado Crisis Line: 1-844-493-8255 Text “TALK” to 38255