Home » Treatment » Just For Me

Just For Me

At the end of the music therapy session I described in my last post, Wakana told me to make a list of all the things I’m doing “just for me.” She often gives me homework without holding me accountable for doing it, but this time I want to make an honest attempt at it.

I feel the need to justify doing anything “just” for me; to be honest it feels kind of selfish. I’m not sure if that’s the gender training talking (“women should put everyone else first”) or the depression; they’re most likely interrelated.

Whatever the case may be, and as much as I may struggle to believe it, my justification is this: everyone needs to do things that are just for themselves, it’s a vital part of self-care and all-around health / wellness. Doing things just for oneself does not reduce or limit the things one can do for others. On the contrary, it helps one to be more capable of helping others.

I can’t really help others while I’m hurting myself – especially not as a therapist. Even (especially!) with my mom, she asks me for help all the time and I try to help her, but I resent her and end up doing something to hurt her in my attempts to reestablish some kind of boundary (or just as a reaction). Ultimately, it’s not healthy for either of us.

If I want to help people – if I want to do anything! – first I need to take care of myself. That’s what this post, and ultimately this entire blog, is about.

Things I’m Doing Just for Myself

  • Writing this blog
    • As much as I hope readers benefit from it, too, it’s primarily a safe place for me to process my experiences and feel seen and accepted.
  • Receiving music therapy as a client
  • Playing, listening to, and composing music
  • Playing video games
    • I might spend unhealthy amounts of time playing and thinking about them, but I also enjoy them for the story, strategy, and as a means of self-expression. If Fox and I are playing the same game, I need to play at my own pace, make my own decisions, and remember that I’m playing the game for me.
  • Watching awesome TV series
  • Reading
  • Trying to eat healthy food whenever possible
    • I only get one body (in this lifetime, at least); my body is me. Taking care of myself means ingesting things that will benefit my body me as much as possible and hurt me as little as possible.
    • I focus on eating minimally-processed foods free from weird chemicals, and on trying to balance my diet. Chocolate is a delicious treat to enjoy every day, but I need much less of it than I do vegetables, fruit, protein, grains, vitamins, minerals, garlic, and healthy fats.
  • Cooking
    • Cooking is a fun and often social activity that helps immensely with trying to eat healthy food. It’s also a great opportunity to try new things and be creative.
  • Exercising
    • I feel much better on the rare occasions when I do exercise (usually taking a walk); it’s beneficial to my body (me).
  • Meditation/Relaxation
  • Receiving massages
  • Sleeping
  • Maintaining personal hygiene
    • Showering, brushing my teeth and hair, moisturizing, applying deodorant, and wearing clean clothes all help me to feel good. I can go out in the world and do things – if not confidently, then at least without worrying about how I smell.
  • Cleaning
    • Cleaning gives me some control over my environment and makes it more pleasant, which helps me feel good. Fox and I are both responsible for cleaning.
  • Having pets
    • Pets are a huge responsibility; you have to spend a lot of time, energy, and resources taking care of them – even when you don’t feel like it or have other responsibilities. But they also bring a lot of joy and comfort, sometimes just by existing. I try to provide a good home for my pets where their needs are met; other members of the household may benefit from their presence, too. But I have pets because I benefit immensely from having cute warm fuzzy critters to hold, pet, talk to lovingly, be groomed by, teach, feed, watch, build box forts for, take walks with, etc. They are also most excellent at getting me out of my head and back into reality.
  • Learning
  • Developing adaptive software for people with anxious depression and other mental health issues
    • I have ideas for a program (or possibly several programs) that would help me take better care of myself – if not to overcome my anxious depression, to at least have an easier time living with it. If I’m successful, I want to share the software with others at low-to-no (preferably no) cost to them. But my primary reason for developing the software, the reason why I thought of it in the first place, is because I need it. I need the software to help me function and do the other self-care items on this list more consistently. Perhaps more importantly, I need to actively create the software for the experience of identifying a problem and working toward my own solution – taking active steps to meet my own needs.
  • Choosing to live

9 thoughts on “Just For Me

  1. Reblogged this on Radically Mad and commented:
    As an alternative viewpoint to my post Service and mental health (http://cheshirekit.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/service-and-mental-health/), Ziya of https://adaywithdepression.wordpress.com talks about the importance of self-care to mental health, and how ze takes care of hirself to help with hir anxious depression. I definitely agree that self-care is very important to mental health. Ultimately, it’s important for everyone (not just mad people/people with mental illness!) to find a *balance* between serving others or a cause and tending to one’s own needs and pleasures. Some may already have such a balance, and if you’re one of those people, good for you! Tell me your secrets! 😉 Most people though, I’ve found, tend to lean more in one direction than the other if left to their own devices and not paying attention, and so need to practice the opposite end of the spectrum to arrive at a middle ground.

    To take care of myself, I see a therapist and psychiatrist, attend Icarus Project and ASAN chapter meetings, talk to and spend time with my family and friends (in-person and also via social networking/Skype/phone/texting!), make art, dance (when my back cooperates with me), swim and do yoga (again, when my back cooperates with me), spend time in nature (when the weather cooperates with me), read, use aromatherapy, get massages, go to fun events, and practice my spirituality.

    What do *you* do to take care of yourself, on an ongoing basis or when you’re having an especially rough time? How do you find a balance between “me time” and “other people time” that works for you?


  2. ::waves hello::

    I like this list. My version would be similar in a lot of ways, and would also have to include permission to enjoy things like “eating massively unhealthy food sometimes just because, without feeling horrible about it”, “taking guilt-free time to be a hermit when I feel like I need to”, “looking for the humor/pleasure in simple things whenever possible”, and of course replace video games with fanfiction. 😀


    • Why, hello there! 😀

      I like your additions to the list, especially the last one: “looking for the humor/pleasure in simple things whenever possible.” It’s a nice reminder to practice thinking positively.

      On a related note, I think I’ll add “smiling whenever I remember to do so.” I feel so much better when I smile, even if it’s because I’ve consciously decided to move my facial muscles that way.


  3. I found your blog, looking for a nice list so I could make a chart of “Self Care Jobs” to help me function with depression. I really couldn’t have written a better list than you have. I was almost just looking for the basics, hygiene and little things like that, but you really covered some I hadn’t thought of. I’m a massage therapist who rarely asks colleagues for trades, I usually wait for them to ask me, for example. After reading your list, I think I would also add “Say ‘NO'” to mine, something I don’t give myself permission to do.
    My plan is to make a laminated chore chart kind of thing that I can cross off. I love visual reminders. If you do develop that software, I volunteer to beta test!
    Thank you. 🙂


    • I’m so glad you found my post helpful!
      Saying “no” and otherwise setting boundaries is very important for mental health (and something I also struggle with). Thanks for adding it.
      I also really like the laminated chore chart idea, seems like something that would really help Fox and me to be more organized.


  4. Pingback: Fourth 3-Month Review | a day with depression

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