Crip Care Reminders to Myself
By Sav Schlauderaff
Entering into spring semester is always a monumental task for me, because springtime holds so many of the bad memories. I find myself in constant anticipation of fear, flashbacks, dissociation. The effects of this anticipation take over everything else in my life, I isolate myself, I sabotage my relationships, I fall back into bad coping mechanisms with my eating, my drinking, my self-harm. Spring of last year is also when my health took a big nosedive, I started experiencing burning/pinching/itching/numbing pain across my face (with a fun new face rash & swollen face as tagalongs), my joints became swollen and painful, my hands and feet became numb, and my ability to walk and move without being completely exhausted has decreased. I was very serious when I said that graduate school has made me sick. And I’ll skip the back to back to back doctor appointments I have been going to, and focus on my relationship with myself.
Being constantly unwell and sick and in pain, as many of us know, are guaranteed ways to make us feel more isolated, lonely, and angry. That I can’t separate my mental health, from my physical health from my emotional health from my spiritual health from the health of my relationships. I use health here reluctantly, but….what else can I use? Status? Well-being? Capacity?
I know that I am in need of care reminders for myself, urgently, because I have spent the last week crying and trying to push away the images and voices telling/showing me that I should kill myself. This isn’t out of the ordinary, my lovely depression chart answers at every doctor’s appointment will confirm that, but I just feel so exhausted, and apathetic, and tired, and….sad.
So these are reminders for those days.
Remember you need to eat enough food to fuel your body, your muscles, your brain—food is not a reward or something to withhold when you have a bad day or make a mistake. Remember to drink enough water to keep your heart happy and to keep from fainting. Unlearn the pleasure of an empty stomach, of hunger pains, of fainting, of chills. Your value is not tied to your size or your weight or the number of people who hit on you.
It is okay to want to feel attractive and wanted. Your loneliness doesn’t make you a bad person.
Your friends and family do love and care about you—this isn’t a big ruse or a lie. You are not an annoyance. But these are relationships that require work from you too. Remember to ask for help when you need it, remember to be honest.
Your productivity doesn’t determine your value.
Remember to tend to your body, that just because these pains are constant you should not ignore them. Ice your joints, massage, strengthen and stretch your muscles, remember to do your facial massages !!
Be honest about your time, your energy, and your boundaries. Helping other marginalized folks will always make you feel better, but understand when you don’t have the energy to do this to the best of your abilities. Be honest when you are having a bad pain day, when you have a migraine, when your bodymindspirit is overcome with exhaustion.
It’s okay to take time to do “nothing,” it’s okay to sit and watch LaurDIY videos or Planet Earth for the 20th time, it’s okay to go to shopping, to sit outdoors, to go out to eat, to cook more baked goods, to take a long bubble bath, to video chat with your siblings. It’s more than okay, these are all necessary. It is impossible for you to be working ALL THE TIME.
Don’t feel guilty about asking for accommodations—I know this one is a work in progress (see number 4 again). Accommodations & access do not make you a nuisance or unworthy of being there, they ensure that you can be present and work at your best.
Remember to think and feel kind things about yourself. Remember to check-in with your whole self. Remember to not always just say you are “fine” or “good.”
Your productivity doesn’t determine your value. Your kindness, your jokes, your friendship, your advice, your passion, your ability to listen, your creativity, your diligence, your leadership, your cooking & baking skills, your softness— these give you value, give you presence, give you life. And your life is worth it.
All my love & energies,