It is nine o’clock in the evening and I am sitting behind my desk in my student room. Tomorrow I have class, but I have not yet finished my assignments. I’ve been busy since three o’clock in the afternoon. On a scale of 1 to 10 being tired, I am a 10. But I have to keep going. I have to. I say to myself: “Come on Ghyta! When you have finished this, you can go to sleep. “And so I worked so more. It is eleven o’clock in the evening when I am finished. Now I finally can go to bed.
I was this more than two years ago.
My mentality back then was: don’t complain but keep going. I ignored the signals my body was sending me and always pushed through. Sometimes I did not stop until I ended up in bed feeling exhausted. I already experienced this when I was in high school. Back then I had to deal with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as CFS. This was probably due to certain reactions to vaccinations and my liver which was not functioning properly. They could not find what exactly was wrong with my body though. It probably was an accumulation of events. Due to alternative medicine I have been CFS free for a number of years. But when I look back on my life with CFS in high school, I recognize the same lifestyle that I had when I was dealing with PTSD and depression. I kept on going until I was no longer able to and ended up in bed for a week and then continued again. This is not the way to take care of yourself. When I look back on this, I am not proud of it either. Eventually I had to ‘fail’ a few times, before I realized that this is not the way to take care of yourself.
Since I was in therapy, I have often heard the phrase “be kind to yourself”. When I first heard it, I thought: be kind to myself? You must be kind to others, right? How can you be kind to yourself? Four years later and having heard the phrase “be kind to yourself” a hundred times, I finally understand what it means. For me, being kind to yourself means that you listen to what your body and mind needs. If you are studying hard and keep going while you can’t study any longer due to tiredness and lack of concentration, then do something for yourself for an hour. Or longer. Just as long until your body and mind indicate that you can handle it again. Being kind to yourself can also mean that you make an appointment with yourself instead of an appointment with your friends. For example, you can go home to read that book that has been on your bedside table for three weeks. Or you can go for a walk in the park or have a cup of coffee. Treat yourself because you are important. You can work out, dance, sing, play the piano or just take a warm bath. There are so much activities to think of. In any case, it is about giving you the care that you normally would give to your friends, family or children. Because if you don’t take care of yourself, who is going to do it?