My family is recovering from a nightmare. If you follow me on this blog, you might have noticed that I didn’t publish a new article lately. Since my last post I have been scheduling and rescheduling my counseling clients, tending and caring for my sick babies, and helping my husband through three hospital visits.
Yes, you read that right. He was hospitalized three times in the short time span of six weeks.
One day, I left my counseling office for the afternoon without any idea that the events of the evening would curtail the course of my family’s life for the next two months.
You see, my whole family (8-month old baby, four year old son, and dear husband) all came down with a stomach bug. We got sick and were better a couple days later. It was uncomfortable, but bearable.
Not for my husband.
The same virus seemed to completely knock him on his feet. He was keeling over in visible pain. You could hear the virus churning in his stomach from across the room. He became weak and terribly dehydrated. He never experienced anything like that before, and thankfully he instinctively knew that he had to go to the ER.
And off he went. My husband was now gone and I was still very much sick, caring for two sick babies. This was bad enough, but at the time I didn’t know how bad it was about to get.
Later that night, he called to explain what the doctors told him. He had something called Clostridioides Difficile (commonly referred to as ‘C. diff’). The good news? This was different from what me and the kids had (so they were safe from what happened to him). The bad news? It is potentially fatal and there is a small risk of the infection spreading to us.
If you asked me how high my stress level was from 1-10, I would have said 30. My husband was in an isolated room with ‘touch protocol.’ I had the stomach bug. My children had the stomach bug. There was a dangerous virus lurking on the hard surfaces of my home that could infect my babies.
The next few days were a flurry of activity. It was quietly disinfecting the house in the middle of the night when my kids were sleeping with a surgical mask, gloves and cap over my hair. It was consoling my husband from afar because we were banned from visiting him by our healthcare team because of our compromised immune systems from the bug. It was tears, it was grit, it was thinking on my feet about how to best handle the situation.
I was obviously stressed, but I was able to keep myself emotionally afloat. This was not an accident. Every day I prioritize my emotional health. I learn about how my mind and body respond to stress and I put efforts in to help myself achieve cognitive, emotional and spiritual peace.
My efforts do not go down when things are good. In fact, when things are good I continue the journey at full speed. For the past fourteen years I committed to learning about myself and how to help myself feel as emotionally healthy as possible.
As a therapist and personal development coach I understand what hardship can do. I am aware that this was hard, but not ‘worst case scenario’ hard. My husband is recovering and will get better. Some families are not as fortunate. That said, it was so completely and utterly challenging. As I pressed on through those difficult times, I couldn’t help but marvel at my overwhelming gratitude for all the years of developing solid emotional self-care.
You see, I want everyone to learn (AND PRACTICE) self care not for today, but to help you emotionally survive one of the hardest days of your life. Self care can help you feel good the day you practice it, but its real magic is the accumulated effects of practicing self care day in and day out.
When one of your hardest days comes for you, I want you to have a reservoir of emotional wellness that you can turn to.
I want you to know what helps you change anxious thoughts and I want you to practice doing that over and over until it becomes second nature.
I want you to know what things lift up your mood effectively and quickly, and do them often.
I want you to know who your most effective and available support people are are start giving yourself permission to ask them for help, so the day you desperately need their help you are comfortable asking for it.
I don’t want you to have a terrible day, but I know one is probably in your future because that is our contract with life. Life is equal parts amazing, difficult, and neutral. Cherish the amazing days, be thankful for the neutral days, and prepare your heart for the difficult ones.