Knowing My Limits: Self-Care Through Transitions

Knowing My Limits: Self-Care Through Transitions

One of the biggest ways the novel coronavirus has affected my life is to be called into service to help my mother and others who have been experiencing mental health challenges at this time. Helping my mom required me to go back home to Regina to support her, and help arrange her personal affairs and connect her with the necessary supports for diagnosis and assessment. The influx of Covid-19 patients in hospitals and crowded emergency rooms has made accessing supports an interesting endeavor. Fortunately, doctors have been as accommodating and helpful as they can be.

My recent visit with my mother afforded me the opportunity to look at the ways I show up in my interactions with her. This caused me to examine what’s most important to me with the time we have left together before her memory fades further and her ability to differentiate between fact and fiction is impaired. Of particular interest was noticing myself oscillate between moments of compassion and understanding; where I stood present to what was being spoken, listened attentively and validated my mother’s experience, to being frustrated, unaccepting and distracted by my internal dialogue and everything in between. I recognize there is a part of me that wants to deeply honor her experience and circumstances, and another part that wanted to shut down and avoid the reality of what was occurring. These have indeed been times of rewriting the script of my family’s story.

Another circumstance of the challenges we faced with my mother is getting her personal affairs in order. I drafted her will, power of attorney and personal directive for health. This was a surreal experience, as I was confronted with the eventuality of my mother’s passing and my own resistance to accepting this fact. It took me several days to finish writing these documents, due to the amount of distractions I allowed to enter my space. I recognized the grief and sadness I was processing related to this gradual letting go of who I have known my mother to be and the relationship we have had, to who she is becoming through this disruptive mental health journey (I have decided not to comment on her condition as there is no formal diagnosis at this moment). Support from family and friends during this critical time has allowed me stay on top of my own health and wellness practices so I could continue to be supportive.

In addition to supporting the needs of my family at this time I was receiving calls from other people I have worked with who were in need of encouragement and support, due to mental health-related challenges. This, combined with the task of interviewing and writing pre-sentence reports (Gladue reports) for Indigenous People involved with the law, kept my focus towards the heavier side of emotional subject matter. A few days ago, I found myself overwhelmed emotionally from the convergence of support activities I have been involved with to the point I realized I did not have any remaining emotional bandwidth left to discuss the simplest of matters with a friend.

I quickly called upon my own supports to discuss what I felt happening inside of me, called a quick timeout on report writing activities, had an energy clearing done with a friend. I also participated in strenuous physical activity for a couple of days, journaled about my insights related to my mom and have been taking Epsom salt bathes. I am feeling my batteries replenishing now and am mindful about stretching myself too thin again.
I have also been communicating with a team of colleagues to address situations with people I have been supporting, opened the lines of communication with family to consult about my mother’s circumstances and kickstarted my meditation practice in order to remain grounded and centered. One final strategy I have been practicing is completing projects and tasks, and re-prioritizing where to place my attention to make room available in my life to stay on track with my energy level and workload. Self-care, organization and planning are the top ways I structure my routine to accommodate all of the requests of my time and resources.

How do you maintain your energy levels during peak times of output?

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