Self-Care When You’re Not at Home

“Self-Care When You’re Not at Home.” I have written this down so many times, adding ideas and point-form notes and lists and scribbles, intending to really really write about it, analyze it, share it. Especially with trips to New York City and Chicago coming up (and then happening, and then disappearing into the past), I wanted to figure out how to take care of myself through it all, and how to help others do the same. For three months, I procrastinated, and now I am away from home and I am sick. I spent a day and a half on various buses, pulled an all-nighter at the bus terminal in Pittsburgh, got into Chicago last night, and proceeded to sleep for sixteen hours. But I made it here without puking, and that is an accomplishment (I have serious motion sickness issues – I have gotten ill just riding a car for five minutes to get across town, and I also tend to get sick while taking a fifteen-minute bus ride to the bookstore).

Key for me while I’m traveling is reminding myself that a) I am an introvert and I need to accept that and my pals need to accept that, b) I have a sensitive system and I get sick easily, and c) all of these things are a.o.k. as long as I know what to do with them. Before I left, I wrote a list of everything I needed to bring with me to stay sane: Rescue Remedy, motion sickness pills, headache pills, psych meds, vitamins, Holy Basil, Pepto-Bismal, water, peppermint oil, mints, a book, a notebook, lots of pens… I didn’t want to get sick, and if I did, I wanted to have every single necessary item in my backpack so it wouldn’t last for long, and/or ruin the trip. Little did I know, I was already sick, and my sickest days would happen while I was on the road.

It’s not really such a surprise. In fact, I had been feeling ill for the better part of the last two months; I’d been complaining of fatigue, exhaustion, sore throats, nausea, a general feeling of, “there is some kind of infection lying dormant within me and it needs to get out.” I felt tired all the time, lacking energy to do anything at all, needing up to fourteen hours of sleep each night with naps throughout the day, and I couldn’t understand why this feeling wouldn’t go away. Finally, I found out I have mono (infectious mononucleosis), a.k.a. The Kissing Disease, and my whole system is fucked up. Fucked up! And there is no cure. As my doctor said, mono is basically “the worst sore throat you’ve had your entire life”, and all I can do is relax, take it easy, don’t overdo it, wait for this darn thing to heal and go away.

So I’m trying to take care of myself. And that is really hard when I’m not at home! I mean, it’s hard enough when I am at home, you know? The thing about providing self-care when you’re not at home is you gotta really really accept that you are not a creature who can magically cure yourself and go on a bunch of adventures and pretend this sickness thing never happened – well, that’s what I need to work on anyway. I have a tendency to overdo it, to make too many plans and never say no to even more plans, and then I get sick and tired because my introverted-self doesn’t get the alone-time they need, my brain gets too busy and I get cranky and I don’t know what to do with myself.

I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to relax. To be honest, whenever I leave town, even just spending a weekend at a friend’s place, I really just look forward to talking and catching up, but also being quiet and drinking tea and reading together and writing and checking out little cafés and bookstores and whatnot around town. I’m a quiet person, I don’t like parties, I don’t like hanging out in big groups of people, I don’t like eating out all the time and seeing all the sights and staying up late. My biggest concern when I’m traveling is how to create a little corner around myself to be my temporary home-away-from-home. I just want a cozy, calm spot to hang out in, and I don’t want to feel obligated to Do All the Things.

So here it is, my first night in Chicago, and I am all alone, sitting amidst piles of blankets and sheets on a bedroom floor, writing letters to my friends back home, and getting sucked into an internet vortex of Lonely Island videos. And it’s wonderful! I’ll certainly get up to many more adventures later, but right now, I just want to build a fort and camp out with some good books and worry about events and places and friend hang-outs and everything else later. And to my friends in the city, whether or not you’re here yet, and whether or not we’ve talked yet: Thanks for (presumably) understanding!

Introvertedly Yours,

P.S.: How do you take care of yourself when you’re not at home? I’m curious!

P.S.: If you’ve benefited from my writing in any way – if my words have inspired you, helped you feel less alone, or sparked some weird feeling within you; if you’ve felt encouraged, or curious, or comforted – please consider compensating me by offering a donation of any amount. Whether you’ve been reading my writing for years, or just stumbled into me this afternoon, I invite you to help me sustain the process!

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