Friend: What’s one thing you can do for self-care today?

Me: Uh….idk…lol

Friend: I have to give you a list. Haha. Here heeee: Take a shower. Clean your room. Take a walk. Make a meal…….ride your bike.

Me: I didn’t realize those were considered self-care. I will definitely be taking a shower…lol

Friend: Yes. Some people can’t do those things.

I never realized simple things like cleaning my room or even taking a shower were considered self-care. Furthermore, I definitely didn’t realize that some people struggle with depression (or other mental health issues) so mightily that simply taking a shower seems too monumental to accomplish.

This interaction stuck in my mind and made me realize that I really suck at self-care. Sure, I take showers and feed myself, but damn near everything else has been a struggle recently. I haven’t cleaned anything around my house in weeks. (It’s not as bad as it sounds. I’m not a messy person, thankfully.) Just last night, I finally put away the basket of laundry I washed over a week ago. I’ve been ignoring everything and getting stoned or drunk whenever I’m finished working just so I can escape a reality I can’t seem to get far enough away from.

Honestly, I can’t rationalize this need to escape. My life isn’t horrible. It’s not even bad. Sure, I have problems. Who doesn’t? But I have a good job. I have three healthy sons and a healthy bonus daughter. I have food in my kitchen. Gas in my car. I have health insurance. There are literally millions of people in the world who would probably kill for the life I’m trying to escape. I can’t explain it.

The fact is, I don’t know how to care for myself. Not in a healthy way. Yes, I can do the basic things like work, pay bills, do laundry (even if I don’t get the clothes put away until they’re as wrinkled as a fingertip that’s been soaking in a bath for two hours), and take a shower. To be honest, most days taking a shower is the best part of my day. I can just stand there with hot water blasting dead skin from my body while blaring music from my waterproof Bluetooth speaker. I don’t have to worry about anything while I’m in there except running out of hot water.

Self-care is anything you do to take care of yourself so you can stay physically, mentally, and emotionally well. Its benefits are better physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being. Research suggests self-care promotes positive health outcomes, such as fostering resilience, living longer, and becoming better equipped to manage stress.

As examples of self-care, the linked article above lists maintaining a regular sleeping routine, eating healthy, spending time in nature, doing a hobby you enjoy, and expressing gratitude. Yes, those are just examples, but I suck at all of them. Sleeping routine? Ha! I have to take pills just to go to sleep when I want to. Otherwise, I just lay there and stare at the ceiling all night, wondering why I’m still awake. Eating healthy? I try. I don’t like spending time in nature. I prefer temperature-controlled environments and hate bugs and sweating. Unless gaming or watching TV counts as a hobby, I don’t have one. And gratitude? That’s an emotion I rarely feel for some reason beyond my comprehension.

Sometimes I think I need to stop being such a bitch, man up, and take care of my shit. Then I think I really need to be gentle with myself, and I’m really unsure which of those voices I want to win. So far, there’s been no middle ground.

I was walking every day until I took some PTO in October and kinda fell off the wagon completely. I decided to take that week to unwind and have some fun. I decided it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have a few drinks that week. Instead, I became hooked on a feeling. The buzz in my head. The no-fucks-given demeanor. The way everything is funnier. How I’m more relaxed. Now when I think about taking a walk, I just feel too damned tired to even walk out the front door. The laundry? I’ll get to it tomorrow. Dinner? Doordash.

I can’t live this way, though. Shit doesn’t go away if you ignore it. It’s still there. Waiting for you. Ready to pounce the moment you’re sober again. Reality plays the long game, and it’s patient. It will always win and will always, always outlast you. It’s kind of an asshole that way. You’d think eventually it would give up and go bug some other sucker, but noooooo…there it is, like Roz in Monsters, Inc…always watching.

Sometimes I think of just stopping it all. Not just the self-medication, but all the medication. It’s obviously not working. Something will get adjusted, and I’ll be fine for a while. Then, I end up right back here – wondering why I hate my life and where it all went wrong. I tried it once before, and after about a week or so, I felt like I was on the verge of a panic attack 24/7, so I don’t.

I’ve been waiting for counseling for almost a year now. I’m about to break down and sign up for BetterHealth, but it’s $65 a week. I know everything is turning to a subscription model, but mental health isn’t something I figured you could just pay a subscription for, like Netflix. I mean, what kind of original content does BetterHealth have that maybe TalkSpace doesn’t, hmmm?

I need to get on this self-care train, but I don’t know how to board. I don’t even know where to find tickets…