In my work as a Social Worker, I work in an environment that has a lot of responsibility and with that goes a certain amount of unavoidable stress. Because of this, it is important that I practice good self-care. This is something that I have always tried to do, to ensure that I can remain reasonably psychologically healthy.
Since having my diagnosis, this is even more important. The problem with this can be that Parkinson’s is a bit of a hidden condition. For some people with any condition – not just Parkies – that require the use of aids, such as wheelchairs, walkers or other equipment it is usually quite obvious that that person has some sort of health condition. The problem with someone like me, in the early stages of Parkinson’s is that my medication helps me to have limited outward signs of Parkies. This can have the effect that while my colleagues are aware of my diagnosis, they are not fully aware of the effects it has on me on a daily basis.
I was talking to a colleague today who has started reading my Blog. She said that because I present well and appear to be doing a good job, that it is easy to forget that I have this diagnosis. Another thing she said, was that she would try to be more mindful that perhaps I will sometimes have some ‘not so good’ days. I appreciate her saying that, because as I have said, I think often that my colleagues almost forget about this unwelcome guest that inhabits my body.
We have an Interdisciplinary Team Meeting (IDT) every Tuesday morning. At that meeting we discuss all our patients as a team. During the meeting, a team member sits at a computer and makes changes to the ‘care plan’ as we go along. Now, I have tried to do this task twice before and long before my diagnosis. When I attempted to fulfil this task for the team, I found it very stressful and anxiety producing. So, last Tuesday, the situation arose that there wasn’t anyone to sit and type and make those changes. One of the team looked at me and said ‘Sue, how about you do it for us?’
I looked at her and gathered my thoughts for a moment. On the one hand, someone had to do the task for the team. But, on the other hand I knew that this would be incredibly stressful for me. My response was to tell her – and the team – that I would not be able to carry out the task without it causing me (and the team) too much stress. Attempts were made to encourage me to ‘give it a go’ but I held firm because I genuinely would find trying to carry out the task too stressful.
In the end, someone else joined the IDT and they agreed to do the typing. I felt in part – rightly or wrongly – that perhaps I might be viewed as being ‘selfish’ or ‘not a team player’ but more important than that was for me to care for my own needs first and foremost. To have good self-knowledge about what we can and can’t cope with is important not just for me as a Social Worker, but also for anyone with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s. Anxiety and Depression are common effects of this condition and knowing yourself well enough to minimize getting into situations which cause these is important.
I know it can be difficult for those around us to realise some of the day to day challenges we face. Because they may not be obvious, I feel it is up to me to tell people honestly and openly what my issues are. If something is making me anxious or likely to, I need to tell those around me. If I am stressed and need to take a break, then I need to make sure I do so. If I need help, I need to say so. If I’m offered help – and perhaps haven’t realised I need it – then I need to accept it graciously.
So, just as I strive to be honest in this Blog, I must almost strive to be honest and open in my daily life, both work and personal. In doing so, I will give myself the best chance of being able to continue doing what I do for as long as I can.
Self awareness and self care are the key to living a healthy life with Parkies and I will continue to strive to practice this each and every day.
2 thoughts on “Is selfcare selfish??”
Thank you. I think people can be too reluctant to think of themselves sometimes and see it as selfish. However, if we pour all our energies into others, we can neglect looking after ourselves and become unwell both medically and mentally.