I guess I dropped the ball and kind of “ghosted” my audience for a while, but I swear there’s good reason behind it!
September is Mental Health Awareness Month and I want to take a moment to emphasize the need for self-care as it relates to mental health awareness. Sometimes we’re our own harshest, most stubborn critic and the last one to recognize when something is out of balance. It’s easy to get caught up in things and forget to check on yourself until suddenly you’ve built an unstable structure that collapses. I cannot emphasize this enough: you need to just SIT DOWN AND TAKE TIME OUT FOR YOURSELF – exercise saying “no”, listen to your gut about how you feel when certain people are around, articulate your thoughts, do something that is “selfishly” just for you and your enjoyment. Talk to someone whom you trust, go to a therapist. There is no shame in asking for help, asking for clarification, or asking that your boundaries be respected.
You are valid, you are seen, and you are loved.
Now, with that, I would like to provide some updates:
1) Relocation: Since my last episode, I moved to Durham, NC from Dayton, OH in August. I didn’t realize this, but moving is hard! So far, I’ve experienced several cultural shifts (such as locals not understanding what I’m saying - imagine that) but that’s to be expected. Regardless, the months and months of preparation in anticipation of moving while simultaneously maintaining my priorities took up a good chunk of my time.
2) Priorities: I needed to take care of my priorities, including consistently check in on myself and practicing self-care during this time of big changes.
As I just mentioned, I lived in Dayton, Ohio until very recently. If you have watched the news at all, you might have seen a few of the things that my hometown has experienced: EF-4 tornadoes, white supremacist rallies, and a devastating shooting which took the lives of 9 people. Dayton experienced a lot of trauma within a very short period (approximately 4 months) but has been remarkably, yet unsurprisingly, resilient. I forgot that survivor’s guilt can come with these sorts of events but I kept moving because I wanted to help others. However, I knew I needed to stop being such a “tough girl” and implement more self-care during this time. Survivor’s guilt is a real thing and once I started talking about it, I realized how others around me had similar feelings and also wanted to talk. Overall, I’m in great spirits and it felt great to be able to connect with my friends on such a deeper level. It’s one thing to survive, and another to thrive.
3) Inventory: I chose to save tons of photos and podcast episodes during my remaining time in the Gem City. I knew that I was going to need some things to keep my mind preoccupied while I develop a new sense of normal. So far, they (the photos and episodes) have been a great way of connecting to myself during a time of rediscovery.
4) Mawwage: I was a bridesmaid (along with my best friend) in a traditional Rwandan wedding where two of my friends chose to spend their lives together. It was such a beautiful weekend of celebration but trust me, the preparation was intense (I can’t even begin to imagine what that was like for the bride)!
All in all, the move was much needed and long overdue. It was also quite serendipitous that several of my friends were moving around the same time. Maybe we all needed to gain new insight.
What does self-care look like to you?
I’ll be posting a list of my top 10 self-care routines in my next post. In the meantime, I’d like for you to think about 10 things you like to do as it relates to self-care. Don’t have anything? Consider things you like to do that bring you joy - is it trying out a new restaurant? Taking a bath? Buying a small, otherwise pointless trinket? Anything!
If you are unfamiliar with the concept of self-care, I think it’s important to explain what it is as well as what it isn’t. According to Raphailia Michael (2018), self-care is the deliberate act of taking care of one’s mental, emotional, and physical health which helps to improve mood and reduce anxiety. Self-care isn’t something you feel forced to do or find no enjoyment in doing. Self-care isn’t necessarily selfish when your focus is on taking care of yourself with harm to none. It is problematic (and selfish) when folx mask manipulative and destructive behaviors under the guise of self-care. From where is the need for self-care stemming? Be careful of that.
Self-care should refuel you, not displace. You can’t really expect to be there for others or be fully present if you are not aware of your own presence (or a lack thereof) or needs.
One way that I perform self-care is through writing, something I abandoned years ago because a) fear, and b) I didn’t feel like my voice was strong enough or interesting enough. However, I found writing to be the best way to get out of my head around a year ago.
I was so used to academic writing (nearly an exclusively committed decade) that it felt somewhat uncomfortable to get back into creative writing without trying to incorporate APA formatting, eliminating contractions, citations, etc. I think I’ve found some pleasant middle-ground as of late. As a result, I have been working on my own book of sorts and providing perspective to a few projects, including Tinder’s SwipeLife and a queer-owned small printing company, Purpled Palm Press. In the latter publication, I wrote an essay about my experiences with breakups and where it has led me to this point in time. It was quite cathartic to write it all down as I was experiencing an explosive breakup, but I think the essay is what finally allowed me to move on.
I need to make sure to point out that no exes or specific situations were mentioned because this story is exclusively mine.
I am considering a live reading of my essay on Instagram Live on or around September 19th, so keep a lookout for announcements @GuessWhosComingPodcast. And if you’re interested in ordering a copy of the book, please go to Purpled Palm Press’ shop.
ONE LAST NOTE: EPISODE 6 WILL BE UP SOON!