I think you are having a different sort of heartbreak. Maybe a kind of heartbreak of being in the world when you don’t know how to be. […] Everyone has that moment, I think, that moment something so…momentous happens that it rips your very being into small pieces. And then you have to stop. For a long time, you gather your pieces. And it takes such a very long time, not to fit them back together, but to assemble them in a new way, not necessarily a better way. More, a way you can live with until you know for certain that this piece should go there, and that one there.
from Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
Girl in Pieces was hard for me to read, but I couldn’t put it down. I related to Charlie—in small ways. She reminded me a lot of my younger self. Her mindset. How she felt about and treated herself. How she let other people treat her. The things she thought she deserved. I think that’s why I had overwhelming empathy for her. My heart broke for her. I cried every time I sat down to read this book. I wanted to dive into the page and help her in the same way I want to dive into my past and help my younger self.
I still feel like I have pieces of that younger self in me. But reading this made me realize how far I’ve come as I grow into a more confident, self-loving, self-respecting woman.
I’ve been a bit depressed the past few days—I think reading this book may have triggered it. But it’s just a wave. What made me realize that it’s just a wave, that it’s not who I am, that it’s not every day, that I HAVE come a long way is that I’m coping with my depression. I journal—I list my positives, I write down what I’m grateful for, I check in with my emotions. I write poems with the kind of intention that transforms my poetry from romanticizations of depression to poetic nuggets of self-care, self-love, and self-advice. I recognize how I feel and choose to change my mindset by working out or doing yoga. I even left the house to do yoga yesterday even though the last thing I wanted to do was turn off Netflix, get off the couch, and go be around people. I didn’t really talk to anyone, but I was there. And guess what? The teacher talked a lot about self-care during the holidays, so I left with some new self-care practices to try. Because I showed up. I showed up for myself. I put myself out in the real world instead of curling up into my dark, cozy, lonely shell.
I don’t like looking back on the past because I tend to let it consume me. I’ve learned not to get stuck on it. I spend less time looking back, regretting what I did or didn’t do. But looking at my past self through Charlie was eye opening. Sometimes you have to look at who you were to really see and appreciate who you are. I know sometimes it feels like you haven’t changed or grown at all. That one step back can feel like a complete undoing of all the growing and healing you’ve done. But it’s not. Just look at who you were three, five, ten years ago. Now look at how far you’ve come!
You’ve grown more than you think. One step back doesn’t mean every step back. Your depression, anxiety, or other mental illness may always be there. And if you’re coping with it instead of letting it consume you, you’re doing the work. You’re moving forward. If you’re not coping, I encourage you to seek help. To talk to a friend or therapist. To try yoga. To go for a walk. To take a shower. To write that shit down. The littlest act of self care can go a long way.
Here are some more self-care practices you can try when you’re feeling anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, hopeless, etc.:
- Take a bath. Baths are warm, relaxing, and requires less work than taking a shower. Hello! No standing!. Add bubble bath or aromatherapy for extra relaxation.
- Breathe. Take 10 deep breaths. You can do this anywhere, anytime. Bonus: Try bringing your shoulders up to your ears on the inhale and relaxing them down on the exhale.
- Eat a piece of chocolate. It keeps the dementors away.
- Do one yoga pose. Try a Wide-Legged Forward Fold, Tree Pose, or a simple Child’s Pose. If you have the energy for a full yoga session, I recommend Yoga for Depression, or anything else by Yoga with Adriene, really.
- Curl up with a book. Or set aside time for any one of your favorite, relaxing pastimes. Just taking time for yourself, even it’s just sitting and reading a book for 30 minutes, is an act of self-care.
I hope you find these small self-care practices useful, especially as we enter the hectic holiday season. Take care of yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Move forward.