Self Care 101

You might because I am a social worker I have pretty decent self-care skills.  But to be honest, working as a case manager for the mentally ill is one of the toughest jobs to balance work and home life in of all the jobs I have ever worked.  We have minimum requirements to meet in terms of client contacts and mandatory paperwork requirements to meet on top of that.  We are paid a salary so we work for the same amount of money regardless of how much time it takes to get all of our work done.    I often put in extra hours;eat on the run or just once a day; and my personal favorite, wait to go to the bathroom for hours on end.  But I teach my clients to take care of themselves in some ways better than I do.

I have been on a FMLA leave since May 11th.  I have had medical issues happening with low blood pressure that made it so I couldn’t drive for work.  Spent 4 days in the hospital.  I keep getting dehydrated and having my potassium levels drop.  You might think “Well, she just relapsed on her eating disorder- DUH!”  Nope.  I have an adrenal tumor and it is making me dehydrated and causing my potassium to drop.  Tomorrow morning to Monday morning I have a date with my toilet to collect all of my urine for 24 hours.  I wanted to go to church for the first time tomorrow in forever but dating my toilet I will be.  Self care and doing the right thing sucks some times.

TRIGGER WARNING:  SUICIDE Like tonight, I will be taking a PRN dose of Zyprexa Zydis to make sure I sleep after staying awake all of last night.  My mood has not been stable since I was hospitalized in the end of May since they gave me 125mg of steroids two days in a row before discharge and I WAS READY TO PARTY!  Forget that I was sick and fresh out of the hospital when I got home.  Two days after I got out of the hospital a friend committed suicide.  My mood ended up in a mixed state very quickly accompanied by feelings of guilt and regrets.  Even though I know I cannot control other people’s behaviors on one hand, accepting that there was nothing I could do to save my friend’s life was another.    It is another occupational hazard.  In addition to losing my friends to suicide, I have lost clients to suicide, murder, substance abuse issues, and illness.  I stopped counting once it reached over 30 deaths.  I should have started talking more about my feelings of guilt and regrets.  Instead I turned inward and struggled with my own feelings about death and dying.  It’s taken me a few weeks to get my feet back underneath me and search for hope in things again.  I am okay now but it is difficult to take the steps to good self care like getting good sleep, eating three times per day, exercising, and addressing my medical issues head on and asking for help when I need it.  The last one of those is perhaps the most difficult…I grew up in the mental health field learning to be “Polished and Shined and Everything’s Fine” and wearing my Judy Jettison mask every day at work regardless of mood. It carries over into my personal life now after all these years.

If you are looking for a social worker who has all the answers on Bipolar Disorder and Trauma and Eating Disorders, I will surely disappoint you.  I still struggle but I am resilient.  I am trying to work with my treatment team to make healthy choices a day at a time; sometimes an hour at a time, sometimes five minutes at a time.  I’m learning to be brutally honest with my treatment team, but more importantly with myself.

Thank you for reading and spending my first day blogging with me.  It is something I will grow into I think.




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