How Regular Self-Care Will Keep You Sane

I’m excited to have Wendy Garfinkle guest posting for me this week. Wendy is an editor/proofreader and did the proofreading for Tea and Madness. In fact, she just completed the editing for my upcoming memoir, Black Sheep, Rising. 


I’m on a new mission: Care for Wendy (ME!!) The idea of self-care never really presented itself to me. I always called it “me time,” but never really had a definition other than it was time I reserved for myself to read or watch TV or whatever. Then, several months ago, I attended a #SexAbuseChat on Twitter for the first time (Tuesdays, 6pm PST/9pm EST). The hosts, Bobbi Parish and Rachel Thompson, are great proponents of regular self-care. I had to ask for a clearer explanation, which was given. Then I read some blog posts on the topic and gained a better understanding. Basically, it’s treating one’s self with the love and dignity and respect we deserve as human beings, and expect (or should) from our significant other, when we have one. One woman described taking herself on dates. The term “self-care” resonated with me and I determined to begin this practice on a regular basis. Sometimes this means dressing up a little for a dinner out with a friend, or spending a little extra time browsing through my favorite bookstore. It’s the little things that count, and they’ve helped my sanity. Especially over the past year.

It seems I’ve hit perimenopause. This is self-diagnosed at the moment, but since I’ve had the occasional hot flash, frequent night sweats, constant headaches/migraines, INCREASED sex drive, and more frequent bouts of depression, think I’m hitting the bull’s-eye with this one. People tell me I’m too young for perimenopause (I agree…42 is QUITE young), but according to the Mayo Clinic, my age and symptoms are pretty spot-on – apparently, perimenopause can last for up to 10 years before we actually hit the real thing. (Oh, if I could only go back to the Garden of Eden and smack Eve upside her empty head before she ate that fruit!) Then there’s the not-so-insignificant addition of living with a 15-year-old who has ADHD & Asperger’s…and puberty. Some days I feel as if I’m going crazy.

Please tell me this will end someday soon and I can go back to being my delightful, moderately sarcastic self, because quite often I feel that a major meltdown is imminent…

I’d thought the saying goes that happiness comes from within, but my mother recently reminded that JOY that comes from within and happiness is your reaction to your circumstances. Well, I’ve had some difficulty experiencing much of either positive emotion. Though I suffer from depression and anxiety due to childhood sexual abuse, I’m usually a reasonably cheerful, optimistic person with a sarcastic sense of humor. And now I’m learning to deal with the changes caused by this new female rite of passage…

Mid-June to Mid-July 2015 was particularly trying. I’ve not been able to pinpoint why, yet, but I’m working on it…would like to avoid that edge this year – since it’s looming – and in the future if it all possible…Being constantly depressed just…er…depresses me even more. (I’ll be on vacation in late June, so hopefully that’ll help keep the depression at bay for a while.) During that time, the state of my being meant that my eating habits were sporadic. Eating breakfast – and lunch – seemed pointless sometimes. So did getting out of bed to go to a job I love. Thank God my then-14-year-old was/is (usually) fairly self-sufficient with regards to getting his own breakfast and lunch (as long as I’ve done the grocery shopping), otherwise he might’ve gone hungry a few times.

Some days I didn’t want to talk to anyone. Or maybe there was one specific person I’d want to chat with all day long, and if that didn’t happen, the downward spiral began again – or continued, as the case may be. Sometimes topics or conversations would lift my spirits causing the depression to ease for a while. Other times, it seemed nothing would lift me out of my depression. Since my spiritual needs are met, I’m in regular therapy (thank God for my therapist!) and on an antidepressant, the only other things I could think of to help ease the symptoms are: get regular exercise, and eat healthier…because regular (or even semi-regular) sex doesn’t seem to be in my near future…self-care…

So. I decided that for my mental health and physical well-being (not getting any younger, here), I also need to return to the gym (at 5’11” I carry my extra weight quite well, but not happily) and eat healthier. For the first time in about 4 years, I returned to the gym and began working with a trainer. He worked me over, but was complimentary of my form (giggle) and breathing technique (well, I’ve had a baby, and have been worked over by a trainer before, so…). I’ve been eating fewer sweets (mourning dirge) and more of the healthy foods I like – zucchini, squash, salads, apples, nuts, berries, fish – just to name a few.

A long path stretches out before me. I detest going to the gym – it often makes me nauseous and feel as if I’ll never reach my goal. But I’ve done this before, and it’s worked, so I know it just takes time (uggghh) and persistence. Patient, I am not, but persistent, now THAT is me. So I keep pressing forward, and when I backslide on my plan, feel the depression and weight angst pressing in on me, I rest for a while, then get up, dust myself off, and begin again. Self-care helps to keep me sane…

Do you practice good, healthy self-care? What works for you?

self-careWendy is a writer and editor who holds multiple degrees from several universities (that’s what happens when you want to do everything!), including MA and MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University.

Her debut novel, SERPENT ON A CROSS, originally published in 2012, by Northampton House Press, was re-released with new content by Booktrope Publishing in 2014.

She’s authored numerous poems, and is currently juggling several Shiny Things (AKA, Works in Progress). She has served as a copy editor and panel reader for Hippocampus Magazine, as a reader for the James Jones First Novel Fellowship, and as an editor and proofreader for Booktrope and its Gravity Imprint.

Wendy’s most recent venture is her freelance editing business, Grammar Goddess Editing. For information on services, fees, author reviews and a visual resume, visit Grammar Goddess Editing.

In her day job, Wendy is a crime analyst for a sheriff’s office. Her hobbies include writing, reading, and traveling. She lives in South Florida with her teenage son.

Wendy can be reached through the following: Website & BlogTwitterFacebook Author pageFacebook Personal page,
GoodreadsAmazonLinkedIn, and as the Grammar Goddess: Grammar Goddess Twitter page and Grammar Goddess Facebook page