The First Thing To Go Out The Door

Self-care.

As a mother, I think this is the first thing that we abandon when we have kids. Our priorities shift enough that the order of important is the following: kids #1-however many and our partner, work, home, extended family, the world, everything else, ourselves.

We forget we exist until we run ourselves down enough that there is only a shell of our former selves left. Then, all of a sudden, we are locked in a bathroom, crying our eyes out because this isn’t the life we imagined.

We have to take care of ourselves. If we don’t feel good about ourselves, then how can we be a good example for our kids?

I’m not only talking about the physical stuff like showering, grooming, exercising. We have to take care of ourselves mentally and emotionally. We have to take that time in the day where we can focus on ourselves.

Doing all of this other stuff is wearing. It’s tiring. It’s hard to refocus on yourself. When I finally get a few minutes of quiet, I just sit there and stare into the abyss. Okay, the abyss in reality is the tv. It’s like I forget how to function. I can’t even think of what I’d want to do for myself. If I do figure it out, I don’t have the energy.

It’s easy to get caught up in resentment and anger when you get used to putting yourself last. As a South Asian Indian mom, I’m programmed to put myself last. I’m supposed to put my kids and husband first. And every time I feel neglected, I end up feeling a mixture of sadness and anger.

The thing is that you have to find the solution. Your kids are never going to put you first and your partner can only help so much. You have to find the time and energy to do things for yourself. You have to be okay with putting yourself first sometimes. You have to find ways to take care of yourself.

If you have any self-care tips, I’d love to hear them. I am always looking for new ways to take care of myself.

Interest Myself In Me

I know Facebook skews people’s lives so that their seem more interesting than the day in, day out probably is in reality. I’m aware that everyone can’t possibly have a glamorous life where they travel all the time and achieve major accomplishments every other day. Everyone works on a daily basis in some capacity whether it’s a job or being a stay at home parent. I know as well as the next person there are ups and downs in everything.

So then why do I feel so boring? I know that this is a phase in my life where my focus isn’t on myself. I know that raising my kids is important. I know that even if it feels like nothing, getting through each day with them is a big deal.

Still, I wish I was doing something alongside raising my kids that was more interesting. Maybe it’s more that I need to feed my soul. As corny as that may sound, I need to keep myself more well-rounded to make me happy. It’s still work-life balance. It’s a little bit skewed to work right now since my kids are so young but I need to add more life back in so that I don’t feel one-sided.

I remember, before kids, if I ever felt boring, I would try to find something that made me interesting to myself. Granted, my time is a little more limited now but I want to maintain this practice. I want to feel like I can accomplish things. I want to be able to set goals and know what it feels like to achieve them. It might be harder now but I think it’s important for my own mental and emotional health to try.

What do you do to keep yourself interesting? What are your goals and passions?

Being Alone and Being Lonely

I moved. I knew I had to move. I didn’t expect it though. I moved across the country while being 15 weeks pregnant. I moved because my husband got a job. It was between the job we took near family or a job in the south where we knew nobody. I miss home. I don’t even know where home is anymore. My nearby family members have a life of their own so we’re not having the family gatherings I envisioned before moving here. We moved to a seasonal town that’s empty till it’s warm. There isn’t much of a community to meet or interact with even though I’m actively trying to make friends.

I had a baby in the middle of winter. I tell my husband everyday how much I don’t like it here. That combined with my post partum hormones the isolation and loneliness has really sunk in. My husband is a typical male, a solution-focused individual who wants to help but doesn’t understand completely. How can he understand? He doesn’t know what it’s like to have a baby, be tethered to a baby, and be at home all day day in and day out.

Complaining or venting also isn’t how you want to start new friendships and having a new baby makes it difficult to talk to the old ones.

And each day passes. My husband is tired of hearing me complain. This affects our married which affects me. This all becomes part of a self-fulfilling prophecy of me saying if we didn’t move here I would be upset and if I wasn’t upset I wouldn’t complain and if I didn’t complain then it wouldn’t affect our marriage. And the days go on.

Is it me? Do I just not know how to be happy? Should I be thinking of starving children in developing countries or war and destruction and be happier? Are my problems so first world? I have my health, we are financially comfortable, and I have a beautiful baby. I don’t know.

Yeah, It’s Out Of My Control

We, Indians, are perfect. No, really, we are. We are all intelligent, beautiful, and successful.

Ok, let’s talk reality. No one is perfect. Yes, we might have a lot going for us.

However, there is a lot of us have things that we don’t talk about much, things that are out of our control. Many of us have a weakness that we don’t advertise. But it’s there.

My weakness is epilepsy. Unless you’ve seen me popping my medication or have actually seen me drop into a seizure randomly, you probably don’t know that I have epilepsy.

It is super frustrating for me because while I know the triggers, I hate having to change my life to cater to my condition. I do take care of myself though because I don’t have a choice. That doesn’t mean I don’t slip every so often.

My most recent seizure happened during my sister’s wedding weekend. I was lucky that one of my sister’s friends knew what to do. I woke up, got ready, and went to my sister’s wedding rehearsal.

My other sister asked me why it didn’t bother me that it happened. I told her later that it did. But I had 2 choices at the time. I could sit and dwell on it and be upset it happened or I could move on and enjoy the weekend.

We all have something or we will have something at some point in our life. And we can curse our bad luck or we can accept that this is our reality. We can figure out how to live with it. We can ask for help if we need to.

There is no shame in anything that affects your health, whether it be physical or mental. We are human.  There is a lot we have to deal with. And absolutely everyone has something that they can’t control. Everyone has something that takes work, that we have to adjust to. Dealing with epilepsy didn’t just take a neurologist. It took a therapist as well.

Yes, it sucks. I’ve felt that over and over again. I probably will be taking medication to control the seizures for a long time. But since I don’t have an option in the matter, I can only learn to have a good attitude about it. I can be upset or I can have fun.

And I choose to have fun.

 

Yes I’m Vain….But It Keeps Me Healthy

When I was 15, my metabolism quit. Like it got up and said “F*** you” and left. Prior to that, I was a super skinny kid and didn’t really worry about what I ate. After that, it’s like everything I ate just stayed on me. I ended up at around 130 pounds at the time. For a 5’2″ girl, there’s nowhere for that weight to really go that will look attractive. I wasn’t consistently athletic at the time so it wasn’t even muscle weight.

Now take a look around you. Take a look at yourself. Are you in shape? Are you taking care of yourself? Are you being healthy?

If the answer (the honest answer) is no, join the club. There are way too many of us out there that aren’t taking care of ourselves. The American Heart Association recommends walking around 10,000 steps or 5 miles per day. This is hard. I bought myself a Fitbit because I thought I must be easily hitting this number daily chasing my kid around plus working out once a day but nope. I still have to take another walk and really push my activity levels to hit this number. I rarely ever reach 5 miles. It’s frustrating.

After my metabolism quit, it took me another 6 years to come out of denial that I couldn’t just eat what I want and not work out and look like how I wanted. I always wanted to have the perfect body. I’ve always been a perfectionist. And somehow I thought that it would just come to me without me having to work for it.

One day, I looked at a picture of myself and saw how I looked in a shirt I really liked. It felt awful. I realized that I wasn’t just going to magically get into shape. It was, at the moment, I decided that I didn’t want to feel like that again. I joined a gym and started counting calories. I lost a ton of weight and not only was working out regularly but had joined a professional dance team so I was dancing regularly. I felt stronger and healthier.

I’m writing this because when I look around me and see so many people who don’t seem care, it’s frustrating and scary to me. My metabolism quit early and it took me 6 years to figure out what to do about it. But, mine quit earlier than it does for a lot of others. For those of us who are entering our 30s and inching towards our 40s, there are things that won’t work as well as they did before. We are at higher risk for health problems if we don’t start taking care of ourselves as soon as possible.

I’m sure a lot of you are thinking that you like the way you look or you’ve accepted your bodies for what it is. I applaud that. Here’s the thing. We don’t have to have the perfect bodies but we shouldn’t be treating our bodies like trash cans either. We don’t have to not enjoy food but we shouldn’t ignore the consequences of what we are eating as well. The point is that we aren’t eating healthier and exercising to look like supermodels. We are doing it so we feel better about ourselves. We are doing it so we can be there in the future to take care of our children. We are doing it so we don’t miss out on something just because we thought it was too much work when we were younger and couldn’t be bothered.

Unfortunately, I see way more people around me who don’t care than do. I hope they realize that change starts when you take the action to change. I’m hoping that most people understand that those who are physically fit really work hard at it. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Even for those people who are naturally thin, they have to watch what they eat and work out so they don’t end up with other health issues. In the end, we should all feel better about ourselves not only physically but emotionally.

Exercising and eating right does wonders for your mind and soul as much as your physical body. For me, it’s a coping mechanism. It helps my stress levels stay down and for me to deal with whatever problems happen in my life. It also boosts my confidence levels regardless of what I look like or how I’m feeling at the moment. There are plenty of times I’ve gone into a dance practice or work out feeling down or mad and 3o minutes later, I will feel really good about everything because I just needed to take a break from my mind and focus on my physical activity instead.

There are plenty of groups and articles to help you learn how to take care of yourself if that is where you are stuck. This is something I really believe in (even if I slip up every so often and eat a bag of jelly beans myself or have more alcohol than I probably should have). I hope you will be inspired to take the step to treat yourself with the respect you deserve.

We Are the Masters of Distraction

Yesterday, I went to a board meeting for a charity that I have been involved with and watched these amazing people in the generation above me spend their time and passion to furthering a great educational cause. These people are the examples of what I want my future to be like, especially when I retire. They are using their time on this earth to really make a difference in the world. I started thinking that they are doing a great job at getting involved and distracting themselves from what could be a really boring daily life routine otherwise. Then, it occurred to me that we, Indians, are really the masters of distraction. We have extremely busy social lives, we work abnormally hard, we do as much as we can in the short amount of time we have on earth (that is, if you don’t believe in reincarnation and that we will come back and do it all over again). We know how to fill up our day so we just go, go, go. But sometimes, this isn’t a good thing.

I wanted to talk about the other side of how we use distraction in our daily life. There are so many times that we use all of the things we do to hide the emotional side of our lives. We go to these events and hang out with just about anyone to really turn off the insight we have into our own feelings. We figure if we don’t think about it, it doesn’t exist.

A few years ago, I went through a pretty bad depression. I was lucky enough to have friends and family that made me realize that I needed help. If that had not happened, I would have either continued being depressed or used other events in my life to distract me from having to deal with it. I don’t know if that would have helped or prolonged it. I do know that I am glad that I learned how to deal with all of my issues head on.

Facing depression isn’t easy. Being Indian, we come from a culture where emotions aren’t a recognizable reason for doing something. If you think about it, we haven’t had to struggle as our parents have, we have led pretty stable lives with a lot of opportunity, we have had the choices in life to really do what we want. What reasons could we have for possibly have for depression?

Depression isn’t something that you can always control. External factors also can trigger it. If you go through several big losses in your life, I’d be surprised if you didn’t have some sort of strong emotional reaction to them. Just moving on is ideal but in my opinion, it doesn’t seem realistic.

I think it’s time for our culture to realize that emotions don’t just happen in movies. Emotions happen and sometimes, they happen a lot harder than anyone realizes. The only way to get past it is to take the first step into awareness. Only then, you can get help. I have seen people in our generation and even the generation above us be sad but not understand why. Sometimes, the lack of awareness for these types of emotions is astounding.

So, if you have experienced something like this to any extent in your life, know that it’s normal and it’s okay. We all go through it but as any “good” Indian society member would do, we just don’t talk about it. We need to get it out there and realize that this is a very real thing and the only way to deal with it is not by just distracting yourself but by acknowledging it and then, learning what to do to make it better. Your emotional well-being is important to your health and your happiness.

So why do we have such a hard time taking our emotions seriously?

Getting Help is Hard to Do

We’re Indian. We’re self-sufficient. We never need anyone to help us with anything.

Right?

Why is it so hard for us to ask for help when we need it? Whether it’s from people we love or professionals in the field? Do we think it makes us weak? What happens if people do see us as weak? The world must end, right?

I am a big believer in therapy. Enough that even though I am past the really black hole I used to be in, I still go once a month just to get whatever thoughts I have in my head out. And of course, I didn’t choose to go even though at the time it was strongly recommended to me. It took a good friend of mine giving me no choice and forcing me to call around that got me there. But I have to say it helped. I recently went through another bad experience and I honestly believe that because I learned how to cope better through therapy, I didn’t stay down as long as I would have before.

Our society and culture tends to look at something like therapy a sign of weakness. Plus then, people know there is something wrong with you and your family. It takes people a while to really understand the value of going plus the value of getting help. We are all human. Asking for help is acceptable. There will be people who don’t know how to help or don’t give you the attention you need. But there will also be people who will be there no matter what.

The more people accept that getting help is not a bad thing, the more acceptable it will be to get it. It’s time to stop worrying about what our society might think and do something that is good for you. If this helps you figure out your life and get support and make you happier, who is to say it’s wrong or bad to do it? Those who say that it makes you weak or looks bad on your family don’t fully understand your situation. Who are they to say what you do or do not need? Life is a complicated, sometimes overwhelming journey. If you can get through it completely on your own, you might actually be a superhero. Wait, I’m pretty sure Batman and the Hulk could have used therapists as well.