I’ve been a caretaker for someone else with a chronic health condition. It’s a different path when you have a chronic health condition. There are two keys to keeping spirits up – laughter and counting the victories no matter how big or small.
Today was a big victory. My mental health suffers when I’m not working, kicking, or keeping busy. For the past 5 years, I’m usually juggling my massage job, taekwondo classes, college classes, and raising kids. I had always planned to pursue graduate degrees but intended to wait until at least my oldest was out of high school. Pandemic changed that. Post-Covid/Long haulers changed that. The majority of my long hauler symptoms were physical pain in my hands/feet, random inflammation. I was uncertain if I would physically be able to continue either massage or martial arts.
Okay, absolutely nothing could ever stop me from practicing martial arts! What most people don’t realize is that you don’t have to be in super good shape, or an athlete to be a martial artist. Maybe to be a national champion, lol. But the key fundamental foundation is self-improvement, self-development. And there are martial arts programs out there for people who can’t handle the higher impact movements, you just have to look. My recommendation is to find a traditional style that incorporates mental training, like meditation.
I am not an athlete. I’m a nerd, I love research, and statistics, and learning. It was definitely the influence from martial arts that helped to lead me down my psychology journey, developmental psychology. It was an easy decision for me in late summer 2020 to decide to enroll for my master’s degree. It was always in the plans. Even had a couple people, attempt to talk me out of it. Not anyone who knew me well 😊 I decided when I was like 10 that I needed a PhD.
I had not planned or intended to open my own massage practice at the same time. Life just threw that at me after I had enrolled and been approved for my grad program. I’m aware I have limits, and learning I have new ones. I’m really good at pushing myself to that edge.
This has been the hardest degree of my life, not because of the schoolwork. I loved it. But because through doing the work, I realized how my vision began declining. First 2 months into classes December 2020, glasses in April 2021. Then again 4 months later August 2021, glasses #2 were bifocals. Omicron Jan 2022, 3rd pair also are bifocals, that only work sometimes. Then the past 2 weeks, all light burns, eyes shaky, blurriness increased. Things went from gradually bad, to really bad. I was very terrified that I wouldn’t be able to finish my degree, and I was down to the last class, the last project.
Since I haven’t been able to be my busy productive self, no work, no tkd class. I found a way to accommodate the latest difficulties, dim computer, one candle, night mode on word and I could work for a few hours a day from sunset until 9-11pm depending on when my vision went blurry and was done. This is also how I’ve done my blog. Kids come to my room “Mom, I can’t see. How can you see anything?” Ahh yes, but I can as my eyes let in way too much light! It’s the one time a day, that my eyes aren’t stressed, hurting, causing a headache, and/or having to wear sunglasses.
Last night, I pushed until 1 am, and really struggled to see. Kept enlarging the prints. But I finished my final project and turned it in. My professor graded this morning, not only did I do well but he enjoyed reading it. In 4/6 weeks, I will have my master’s degree in child and adolescent psychology. That was not me, who spent an hour drinking coffee going over the Ph.D. program in developmental psychology this morning. I’m not sure who that was 😊
Victories – no matter how big or small, count them, celebrate them. Every single one counts. Walking down the stairs in December without pain in my feet, was a victory, it counted. Walking outside and watering my plants after Active Covid in 2020 was a huge victory.
I saw a meme and shared it on the Facebook page, My Life with Leftovers. Shared by The Latest Kate, the picture is a deer with wings which reminded me of my daughter’s digital art. It says, “being ill doesn’t mean you are a broken person – it means you’re the badass main character who is playing life on hard mode”. This resonated with me so much. I’ve had mental health struggles, physical injury struggles. Post-Covid is another world. Remember this on a tough day.
Set goals and count the victories, big, small, or somewhere in between. Don’t forget to make adjustments or accommodations. It’s okay to adjust. I had to several times. I changed my program from one with set dates to one with flexible due dates. That gave me the flexibility to push back assignments when I needed to or get more done when I was able. And finish my program in 17 months instead of 24. Some classes took months to finish, some weeks. The past two weeks, I’ve had to accommodate the light adjustments, and only work until my eyes begin stressing. Listen to your body and needs!
It’s a journey.
Wishing you victories of all sizes,