Self-care is particularly important when you have a mental disorder. For me, this includes taking my meds at the same time every day; seeing my psychiatrist and therapist regularly; maintaining sleep hygiene (getting up and going to bed at the same time every day/night); and basic hygiene (showering, getting dressed, etc.). However, there are other forms of self-care that consist of activities that make you feel good about yourself, or help get you through day-to-day life. Socializing, keeping a journal, and working out are some examples. For me, (this sounds high-maintenance and I’m a little embarrassed to share) two of these things are having a cleaning lady, and weekly salon appointments.
We met the cleaning lady years ago at my parents’ house, which she used to clean. We also hired her to come over weekly when I was going through the type of depressive episode where I couldn’t get out of bed for weeks. There were too many chores and errands for my husband to handle, along with taking care of me, and working at a full-time job in the suburbs at the time, which meant a long commute. She’s been cleaning our house now for over 10 years, and we got used to her coming over. Also, I have to admit: I hate housecleaning. (I also have to admit that I’m not yet able to do some of the chores that I used to do. They’re still too overwhelming, and when I feel overwhelmed, I shut down: can’t get out of bed, let alone do anything.)
Anyway, when I finished grad school, I would sometimes spend the night at my parents’ house in the suburbs. I was teaching freshman composition at a number of 2-year colleges, some of which were in the far suburbs. (This was before I had the Breakdown, which I’ll write about in the near future.) When the cleaning lady would come over, my mom would kick me out of the house. She didn’t want me getting in the way.
That stuck with me. Sometime after the cleaning lady started coming over, and once I felt better, I began going to the hair salon on the days she was here. It became a weekly thing. Every 4 weeks I’d get a haircut (my hair grows super fast, especially now that it’s short), get the gray hairs colored every 8 weeks (I admit I’m vain enough to do this), and once a month I’d alternate getting a mani/pedi, a facial, and a massage. So each week there was a reason for me to be there. This all happened gradually, not all at once. It started with the haircuts. I’ve been going to the same salon also for over 10 years and know most of the staff, so there’s a social aspect, too. Also, the services they offer make me feel pretty, at least for a few hours.
I know that having a cleaning lady and going to the salon regularly aren’t things everyone can or want to do. But they’re part of my self-care, and I’m grateful that I’m fortunate to be able to do them.