I’ve been off grid this month.
My Dads been sick, like, intensive care on a ventilator for weeks kind of sick. Pneumonia followed by Septecemia.
I honestly thought we’d lose him.
It felt like someone pressed stop on my world.
He’s not out of the woods yet, but I’m feeling a bit more human and my brain is firing up better! I’m writing here, and now, because family trumps work, hands down.
I’m truly thankful to my boss (also me) who quickly recognised I needed time out, to relieve myself of pressures that could wait.
I focused on ME.
Hospital visits were only at certain times, so couldn’t be there the whole time anyway. My “energy” is generally good; I eat well, get rest, prioritise sleep and keep up with exercise. This meant I was in the best shape to “be there” for him. As time froze though, it became really obvious that there was a risk to those strengths.
Not one to lose my appetite but that was one period in my life that it really happened. I had to work hard to keep the good stuff coming in. On feeling myself questioning “whats the point?” I recognised I needed to do something. It took a real stretch of my mental strength to remind myself that I’m no use to anyone if I am malnourished, tired or exhausted.
The only thing I could liken it to, is when we get nauseous or faint because of a shock. All the blood rushes to the source of injury (be that a physical one, or to the brain as it rushes to process information received). It leaves the stomach, and many other parts of the body, to deal with the “incident”. It forgets the rest of the body needs it, and ultimately, the rest of it.
Replay this as if you are looking after someone else or maybe its your day job, caring for other people. If all your “blood” keeps rushing to them, and you are not paying attention to that, there is a risk that soon, you won’t be able to function.
“Putting me first” is not selfish, its a necessity. It doesn’t have to be big things. Keep it simple;
- prioritise sleep (even if you are struggling, focus on the wind down before bed)
- eat well (avoid stimulants to keep you going e.g. sugar, caffeine, alcohol)
- keep moving (even if its short walks around the block)
- take breaks and find ways to “leave work at work”
I wrote a more detailed post about Energy, so do take a read of that.
Some words of thanks…
So many people either offered help or normalised my need to step back. Make sure to reach out to those around you. Staying connected, however uncomfortable it may feel sharing your feelings really will provide a cathartic outlet.
The incredible staff at the Queen Elizabeth, Kings Lynn need a shout out. Every single person there make that hospital run like clockwork. Particularly of course, the expert Intensive Care Unit teams and Tilney ward. I owe Dads life to all of you.
A note on stress…
We’re beginning to think part of the cause was that Dad was under too much pressure. He’s retired, but enjoys so many things, he’d ended up taking on too much. It’s a stark reminder that no matter how much we love what we do, it’s still possible to overdo it.
Pressure comes in different forms (and can be real as well as perceived) to what we traditionally see as “work”, and we can’t just put it aside to “go to work”. I’m certainly not the only person facing this, I am sure many people have family issues going on, or other things taking your focus.
Put your own oxygen mask on, before tending to others. Self-care is not selfish, it’s survival.Sheela Hobden
Give yourself permission to put your basic needs first, so you are in the best place to help others that need you.
EDIT: January 2021 Reporting Dad as fit and healthy, fully recovered, even cycling a few miles a day.
Sheela Hobden is a Coach at bluegreen Coaching. Following her own mental health battles, she now coaches individuals, runs training sessions and speaks at conferences. She has a real passion for helping medics and healthcare professionals take as much care of themselves as they do their patients in whatever life or career conundrums they face! She is also a Mentor Coach and Coach Supervisor. She has a PGCERT in Business and Personal Coaching, holds PCC member status with the ICF and is CIPD qualified. She challenges herself with ultra distance running and Ironman. Find her at www.bluegreencoaching.com or swimming in the sea, in Poole, Dorset
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