This time last week I found myself at my doctor’s office. I patiently waited to be checked in, no small task since I felt like death warmed over. As the front desk asked all of the requisite questions, he found my appointment information, I didn’t even notice that I was practically laying, sprawled out on the counter in front of me. I provided all the information that was required and as the young man clicked and clacked away at the computer, he finally came to a stopping point and informed me that my appointment was, in fact, tomorrow. I was CRUSHED. Upon arrival, I had clearly read where my doctor was not taking walk-in appointments, and I had cancelled all my appointments for today already—I couldn’t fathom doing it again tomorrow! Detecting my despair, this kind soul assured me that he would find a way to get me in that day. He directed me to a waiting area and offered me water while I rested. Sipping on my water, I was just so thankful that I would be seen; I looked up and noticed the young man fervently disinfecting the entirety of the counter I had just plopped my germ-ridden self on—“good call,” I thought. Here I was looking down the barrel of days off that I did not want to take—rescheduling clients, asking for more help, laying up in bed—if I am going to be away from work, this is not how I would like to spend it. Truth is, I’ve been running on empty for a while (cue Jackson Browne).
Coasting on fumes must have caught up to me in the form of a knockout upper respiratory something-or-other. The dissonance is too much, if anyone should know the importance of “self-care” it should be your counselor, right? But knowing what to do and practicing it are two different things. So it seems that when I kept pushing, kept “burning my candle at both ends” as my parents would say, life pushed back and decided to have a break for me.
On the other side of whatever plagued me last week (I was swabbed six ways to Sunday, all negative), I talked with my people—my spouse, my close friends, my boss—and shifted some things around. The biggest shift has to be how I am spending my time. I am prioritizing the “self-care” that seemed like it could wait and moving it higher on the list. Right now that looks like more time with family, more rest, more predictability or monotony even. I did what I encourage my clients to do: I looked at what I say I value, what I aspire to, and I allowed that to have more influence over my schedule and budget. It’s crazy how quickly that shift has made an impact. You could say I didn’t have a choice. The reality is we always have a choice, it’s just now I’m making the choice to take a break before I feel broken.
By Rachel Innerartiy, MA LPC