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The Importance of Self-Care When You Have a Disability

We are at the start of November, and I am writing this story on the train to my latest acting job. I am gearing up for a busy month of teaching and acting work and opportunities, as well as the stresses and strains of the Christmas season. I’ve realized that my health needs to really take priority over these next two months, but what if you don’t have time?

As someone who has a disability and depression, I need to fit “me time” into my schedule. I was speaking to someone the other day when I said I don’t know when I’ll have my next “lie in day.” And the thought is tiring me. Working as a teacher, I’m up at 6:30 at the latest. As the days draw closer in and nights seem longer, seasonal affective disorder can kick in. Even though winter is my favorite time of year — the spices in mulled wine, spiced scented candles and roaring fires can be great — not having much sunlight can be horrible for our mental health. Also, the cold mornings aren’t great for my joints.

I’m in no way complaining about the work I’m getting and I’m forever grateful for what I am achieving right now. But when I’m getting home at 5 p.m. and going to bed, too tired to eat or even run a bath, it’s hard to fit in some relaxation time or look after my health. Even if I had the bath run for me or my food cooked, using that energy to get undressed and get into the bath is hard. Even picking up a fork to eat is exhausting when your entire body is screaming to sleep.

So what do I suggest to myself and others who feel that life is getting too busy and you can’t seem to slow down? Try to give yourself one day off. Next week I’ve penciled a day in my diary where I won’t work. I won’t apply for castings or anything — I am having a day off. I’m planning on not leaving my bed that day. Even though people may say being cooped up in my room isn’t great for my mental health, it will be, because that physical and mental exhaustion will disappear. I will be able to have a bath, scrub my body and do things I struggle with when the tiredness and pain are too much.

Self-care is so important. It took my dad to remind me of that last night when he expressed his concern about how busy I am. I knew I was pushing myself too hard, but hearing it from someone who loves and cares about me is important. Listen to others. Speak to people you love about how you are feeling, so they can support you as you seek balance in your life.

Getty image by Vyacheslav Dumchev.