Pushing Through Pain and Self-Care

I just want to see if there’s anyone out there who can relate.

How do you keep yourself going when you are feeling unwell?

For example, I’ve spent years battling an eating disorder and it can sometimes be really hard to listen to my body. I’ve learned that oftentimes when my stomach is upset or I’m feeling nauseous, I’m actually hungry. It feels so counterintuitive to try to eat when I feel like I’m going to throw up. It can be absolutely grueling but I know that’s what my body needs. At that point, eating becomes a form of self-care. 

Sometimes I just can’t do it and I waste away the day by laying around in pain. 

This isn’t just for physical pain though – mental pain can be just as debilitating.

I also struggle with anxiety and my symptoms can range from lack of concentration to not wanting to leave the house. But I’m still a mom. I still have a job. I still have shit to do.

It is just so hard to push through that pain and keep going.

How do you keep going when you feel like you can’t? How do you push through the pain? 


  1. Katydid says

    You hit on a topic we spoke about in (online) yoga class last night. What happens when the caretaker needs care? Ideally, there’s someone in your life who can step in with the nurturing for you so you can be strong for others.

    If you need more than the journaling and art you already do, you have some options that might work:

    Two things free and easily available to you are tai chi and yoga: your library will have DVDs you can borrow (at least I hope they do?) and Youtube has videos you can watch. Tai chi is very good for people with no experience to just jump in. Lee Holden and David Dorian-Ross are both great choices, with a bonus of their classes being set in some beautiful places. David Dorian Ross’s classes run about 20 minutes, the gentle, repetitive movements are soothing and he’s very encouraging. Yoga DVDs/Youtube videos also offer entry-level options that are soothing: Rodney Yee’s (AM/PM yoga) and Shiva Rea (Meditations) in particular have simple yoga asanas mixed with gentle meditations.

    If you can leave the house and have money in your pocket, something I find soothing is salt-water floats. Your area might have one. You have your own personal room with shower facilities and NO MIRRORS, and a huge double-sized bathtub. You float there for an hour with lights on or off as you choose, music or no music as you choose. The magnesium salts in the water calm your heart and muscles. The place I go to has a “recovery room” with water/tea of your choice/juice and blow dryers, etc. As a plus, the owner of the place I go is very nurturing–she helped me through the death of my mother.

    Also, if your budget runs to this, a massage might be nice. If you find the right person, the touch releases dopamine and oxytocin and you feel nurtured afterward. A good person might also be able to help you through physical issues; mine was better than a physical therapist with some overuse injuries I had.

    You notice that none of the suggestions I had involve food, so they won’t trip your defenses.

    There’s an overused saying about putting on your own oxygen masks so that you can help those around you. But it’s true. Self-care is not selfish; it’s vital.

  2. Katydid says

    If your daughter would go along and if you would find this helpful, there are DVDs of children’s yoga or Family Yoga that you could do together. I have VHS tapes of these because I did them so long ago. The yoga poses are pretty easy for children and their parents–Mountain Pose, Tree Pose, Puppy Dog pose, Child Pose, etc. You two might just start giggling together.

    • ashes says

      I think that’s a really great idea! Several years back I took a few yoga classes and really enjoyed them. My daughter would probably like it, too. She wants to get involved in everything I’m doing. All day long I hear, “Can I help? Can I help? Can I help?” So I’m sure she would enjoy something we can do together. Thanks!

  3. Katydid says

    I also got the “can I help?” question, and for our family, children’s yoga was the answer. There was an excellent local instructor who not only gave classes, but created VHS tapes (early 1990s) for families to do at home together.

    You love your daughter so much, and the two of you doing something together that’s not food-related or shopping-related might be a lot of fun. One of mine was particularly thrilled with the “pretend you’re a tree–let your arms wave like branches” type of thinking. I found it to be a great counter to the consumerism and competitiveness and sexualization of young girl children that were rampant in the 1990s.

    David-Dorian Ross’s tai chi classes would also be imaginative fun for a child. For example, there’s one pose called “wave hands like clouds” and he’s very descriptive about seeing your hands as clouds and letting them float past you that an imaginative child might enjoy.

  4. Allison says

    I’ve been dealing with what they now call Complex PTSD; the main thing I noticed was extreme depression, suicidal ideation, and a tendency to zone out (=dissociate.) I describe it as how I survived growing up in Hell (as in “Abandon all hope, ye who enter.”) It’s nowhere near as bad as it was during childhood, now that I’m not in the city and family and school system I was in, but deep scars remain.

    I’ve gotten by by simply trying to get through the day, or the next crisis, and forcibly not thinking about the future. One foot in front of the other. Breathe in, breathe out. If joy comes my way, I treat it like finding a $20 bill on the ground — feel lucky, but don’t expect it to happen again. I stay away from hope — I plan as necessary, but don’t try to hope, since that means an emotional attachment to a future event, which can destroy you.

    I also maintain a list of things I’ve decided I have to do and can make myself do, and make myself do them, no matter how I feel. Some are (to me) moral absolutes — for instance, I have to be there for my children, so I can’t let myself die. Others are simply normal survival things — taxes, laundry, cleaning, etc. And some are just activities that keep me connected with other people, i.e., to life.

    BTW, I don’t know if it’s relevant to your situation, but I’m trying to not hide what’s going on with me behind a screen of “I’m OK.” The people who will by their presence give you strength will be okay with it, even be grateful for you letting them in. The ones who run away were just going to drain you anyway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *