Steps to self-care

If you’ve been following along, you’ll understand when I say the beginning of this semester has been a real struggle. This is definitely not how I imagined it: a hostile work environment, being sick so often, falling behind… It’s been rough. If I just sat back and continued on this way, well, my grad school career and job would be precariously challenged.

My first step to recovery: counseling. I started immediately after the incident. I was having panic attacks daily — couldn’t really get on campus without them. With help of a professor, I got set up at the counseling center on campus, and have been seeing a psychologist every other week. Through that, we’ve been able to help me get to a good place regarding the incident. However, since I get 12 (I think) free sessions, we’re going to make use of them. My counselor is noticing some recurring trend, ones she’s not even really having to pull out of me, and so we’re going to work on them. Issues of control, confidence, and acceptance. I know it’s going to be hard and uncomfortable to deal with, but it’s also something I need to work on.

I’m thinking about talking to her about maybe getting on a low-dose anti-anxiety medication. Nothing long term, just something to help out for now. My body is feeling more stress than my mind is recognizing. And while it’s important to deal with the underlying causes of the problem… right now this stress is just wrecking my health. So I wouldn’t mind something that can help maybe balance me out just to get myself back on my feet. We’ll see what she recommends.

The second big thing I’ve been doing is trying to get in with medical specialists. Hopefully soon I will have some super basic insurance (yay! finally for the first time in 3 years). Once that’s in place I can use my referrals for an endometriosis specialist and also a GI specialist. One of the fun things with the endo and the stress is that I think I’m developing IBS symptoms. So I’ve got to see someone in GI to make sure it’s not something else. Once I’m in with the doctors we can start working on plans. I’m really over dealing with endometriosis and so I’m looking into big steps.

Lastly, I’m taking me time. Or at least, I’m working on my schedule to just make sure I’m giving my body enough time to recuperate. I’ve been pushing so hard to try to keep up with everything. Essentially it’s just a cycle of stress and illness and my body is just worn out. Emotionally and mentally I’m exhausted, t0o. I’ve reached out to my boss, and stepped back from my 5-day, 20-hour schedule. Starting now I’m at 3 days a week, with only 12 hours. Sucks financially, but hopefully it’ll give me the rest I need. Eventually I’ll step it up to 15 hours. Looking at my schedule for next semester, 15 hours is about all I could get anyway.

It feels good to have a plan of action for all of this. I’m ready to get this off my plate and just focus on my academics. I’m part way there. Mostly I need to just not feel sick more days than not. Hopefully soon that’ll be my reality.