In a society where self-care has become such a huge focus in the recent years and months, we’re often told that “these are the things we need to do when we’re feeling down / ill / depressed, in order to improve ourselves” and well, make ourselves feel that little bit better. And whilst that’s great; we all need these coping mechanisms for our down days – we often think only about self care in times of “need”. Boyfriend break up with you? Self care day. Rough day at work? Self care evening. Having a bad time with your mental health? Self bloody care. And again, this is brilliant and we totally should focus on our self care when we’re having a rough time but what about all the other time? You know, all the other days of the year when we’re not having a bad day, our boyfriends haven’t just broken up with us and our mental health is on a pretty good keel. What then?
I’ve always suffered with headaches. They started when I was in my teens and have differed in frequency but all in all, I’m just a headachey person. It’s mostly stress or tension and now, having anxiety, you can imagine I stress and tense quite a bit. Headaches are a strange thing because they can stem from almost anything; mental or physical stress. DID YOU KNOW that once I had a boyfriend that gave me headaches. No… Literally. I had a headache almost every single day that I was with him and I bet you can guess what happened after we broke up? That’s right, bye bye headaches! So if knowing the fact that boys can literally give you headaches is the only thing you take from this post then I’m happy.
If you know me at alllllll by now, you’ll know I don’t relax. Ever. I just find it so incredibly difficult and I have this incessant need to be constantly productive, 24/7. I love how I’m able to get so much done. I love that I’m a goal orientated person. I love that I can get through my daily to-do lists and go to bed knowing I’ve physically done everything I could have possibly done that day. My organisational skills and my Type A personality is one of the only things I actually like about myself so I’m not going to go and start putting myself down for it! But…. I know that it can get unhealthy. We all need down-time. Every single one of us.
At the time of writing this post, it has been revealed that cervical screenings (smear tests) are at an all-time low. It’s a statistic I don’t even want to think about. I turned 25 last September and as predicted, was invited for my first smear test – which I had done 4 days before my 25th birthday (I wrote about my experience here). I suffer with anxiety – GAD to be specific (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) but I suffer extra anxiety when it comes to medical related things.
Self care is something I’ve really tried to embrace and focus on more in 2017. I truly believe that we need to look after ourselves and treat ourselves with the same level of love, care and respect as you would your partner, parents, pet, house plant – whoever. Of course that’s easier said than done and I’m certainly not the only one who repeatedly punishes themselves when they feel shit or have had a bad day by not eating, sleeping too much, not washing or speaking to anyone. These behaviours are damaging – there’s no two ways about it and we need to try harder to embrace positive actions when we feel bad, rather than negative ones.
If you follow my blog or follow me on Twitter, you will be aware that quite suddenly, over the course of the last 2 months, I’ve quickly become a bit of a smear test advocate. I had my very first test at the beginning of September, just 3 days before my 25th birthday and since then, I’ve been pushing an pushing for more open dialogue and awareness about the importance of having your cervical screenings done. Unfortunately for me, my smear experience didn’t stop after my first test because I got called back to the hospital for a colposcopy because my smear results were abnormal.And that’s what I want to talk about today because I was terrified but I really didn’t need to be and I think if we spoke more openly about these things, women wouldn’t be afraid to get their smears done nor would they be as worried if their smears come back abnormal.
I am an avid Yoga-doer. I might not be the most flexible person and able to do elaborate poses and stretches and I may not have the most stamina and be able to partake in lengthy workouts but… I massively enjoy yoga and try and do at least a small bit every day. I find it benefits my mental and physical health all in one and for someone with anxiety, thats the perfect type of exercise for me.
Oh that was very dramatic wasn’t it? At the beginning of September, I went for my first smear test and I wrote a post about it, which you can read here. This post went down really well and I spoke to lots of bloggery women about theirs; some who have had many and some who haven’t been for one yet. I was thrilled to be a part of the bigger voice that will help women be more open and honest about smear tests which in turn will hopefully, encourage more women to go and get theirs.
At approximately 24 and a half years old, I received the letter in the post that I had been dreading, ever since I knew what a smear test was. The fact that the letter used words like “invited” didn’t make it any more cutesy or appealing. The fact of the matter was, I was at the age where a doctor needed me to spread my legs on a table and look into my fanny. There’s no beating around the bush (pun intended) and no sugar coating it really. It was time for my very first smear test.
I said on Twitter last month that I wanted to start doing more personal posts on my blog; I kicked off this months selection of posts with probably the most personal post I’ve ever written and you know what? It felt good. It was scary. But it felt good having written it. This is my space on the internet after all – nobody else’s. Why can’t I talk about my private life, my personal problems and my own experiences?