Thursday 20th January 2022

Self-Care Stories #6. 42/51#LifeThisWeek. 105/2019.

Self-Care Stories #6. 42/51#LifeThisWeek. 105/2019.

In the past of this series I have written about daily routines, helpful strategies and learning about self-care for me. I have referenced people who have helped me in my quest. Some of my posts can be found here, here and here.

This week’s is different.

Read on to see why.

Where Do I Start?

Not at the beginning in this case! I start with what I think was/is for me a big issue in terms of self-care.

Believing the stories I am telling myself even when there is no evidence nor reason.

What Do I Mean By That?

I’ve been making big progress in terms of my on-going wellness physically and emotionally, particularly related to head and neck cancer, and in every day life practices ….or so I thought until last week.

On Wednesday last week I had the worst headache I had ever experienced since getting migraines waaay back in my 30s and 40s. I woke with it and it was unrelenting. I ended up, most unusually for me, vomiting once. I did not want to eat, felt nauseous, nothing appealed and I spent a miserable night tossing and turning because “I was making up so many stories about what I HAD DONE to cause this to MYSELF”

On Thursday it has settled more but my mind continued to play that above “rubbish” in my head. In fact, my husband and a friend said “maybe you have a virus, or even the flu”. No, not me. I couldn’t accept that. Again….”what did I do to get this?”

On Friday, bit better but not right 100%, another example of my story-telling which came to mind. When I felt I needed to use a toilet quickly because of symptoms of IBS. I “blamed” my inability to manage my emotions and spoke to myself harshly. I won’t repeat the words.

but by the end of that Friday I was so, so ready to





and then this is what happened.

  • I felt the feelings and did not like them but I did know why they stayed.
  • I had felt ashamed to admit my health vulnerabilities.
  • I used to think I did have something wrong (and that is true) but until I had a diagnosis from my GP or someone with a medical qualification I hid behind my stress.
  • It has been like this for me probably since I was young. No-one (as I see it) in the 1950s and 1960s brought their kids up to speak of emotions and be able to be heard. In fact, I don’t think our generation did a good job either. We may have been more understanding but I guess “we wanted a happy, not crying kid” too.
  • I made an appointment to see my GP next week. I then examined how my physical symptoms were and they matched either a virus or a form of the flu. At the time of writing they are still there but I am managing them better.
  • I chose to treat myself with compassion.
  • I told myself I had not CAUSED anything to happen. I relaxed and took care of myself with food and water and kind inner conversation.
  • But wait, there is more.
  • You see, the old old issue for me of shame and embarrassment around my bowel habits continued to be one where I took myself to task often. Add to this a rectocele I also need to manage and I started to ‘hate needing to go to the toilet or find one wherever I was’ and I blamed me.
  • I knew though that I needed to change that darned voice and SOON.
  • I did.
  • I wrote about it. In my on-line journal. It also helped to read it aloud to my husband.
  • It relieved my stress to such a level by that Friday night and into Saturday (time of writing) I have been:

A very pleasant person to be and to live with.

What a significant self-care story this turned out to be.

But of course, you just can’t turn a belief on its head like that…because our minds like to play with us.

IF I had not already done a lot of self-education about self-compassion, having courage and learning from Brene Brown, Kristin Neff and My Calm Meditation AND all the courses I have done, including seeing a psychologist ….and having a trained counsellor husband who has, ahem, talked me down from quite few heights of emotion…then I could not have done this.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?

Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion.

So, I thank you for reading this far. I have felt a bit vulnerable in owning up to what was keeping me stressed in some areas of my physical health but I have done it.

Two images with quotes which have helped me grow as a person are shared here:


P.S. The story does not stop here. No. Unless I continue to practise and recognise my self-care and compassion, then my negative/default mind (it’s how all of our brains operate) will revert pretty darned smart. So, I will return to this book, where I began completing the pages. Sometimes it IS hard to look at yourself with a reality check. But I know this helps me. Onward….and away from old thoughts, memories of shame and embarrassment.

This is the book I use.


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  1. Good for you!! I am glad you recognised all this. Migraines are such a pain and so dibilitating. I get them once a month, and usually can manage through them, walking around looking like I have a really bad hangover. My mum asked why I didn’t cancel my visit to her and I pointed out it happened every single month so I couldn’t just stop life because I felt crappy that regularly. I think she was quite surprised at this attitude (as she does stop life regularly I think). That’s not to say I don’t have to take to bed when they’re so bad – my husband actually worries when I do, as he’s witnessed me throw up from them and continue on my day (lucky him) so when I take to bed, he thinks it must be something else if it’s worse! Ha! Have you notice it’s mainly women that suffer from it? Must be something to do with estrogen (which I can’t spell…;) or something….anyway, good post. and glad you know that you have nothing to do with the cause…

    • Thank you for your long and really interesting response.

      I thought it was migraine-like in its intensity and I have never ever vomited with one.

      I used to get 3 day ones as I called them when I still was ‘fertile’ and I sank those mersyndols each night. The 3 day thing, and pain in my uterus disabled me as far as teaching/running a K-2 dept was concerned for those days so when I got the chance for a hysterectomy aged 38 I took it.

      The headaches were reduced too.

      I have HAD 4 lots of surgeries inside my face: all of my sinus area has been invaded and I have staples and ‘nails’ attached to the bone at the top of my cheeks and each side of the nose, so it can be ‘hard’ to work on what feels normal (ha!) or not.

      Looking forward to chatting with my GP and I hope to have more knowledge after that.

      You are one gutsy woman you know!!

      Denyse x

  2. I’m glad you had that talk with yourself and worked through those negative emotions (and made a Doctor’s appointment). I’ve had migraines so bad I’ve vomited too, it’s the absolute worst. Hope you feel better 🙂

    • Thanks so much Di. I am 90 % better which makes me feel it might have been more virus like but I shall be interested to hear the Dr’s opinion.

      I seriously thought I was done with hormone headaches as I explained to Lydia above.

      Sorry you get them. Some people would have no real idea would they but you do.

      Denyse x

  3. I hope you feel much better by now, Denyse. We’re humans and do get sick. I’m glad you applied what you know about self-care and self-compassion to this situation.

    • Yes Natalie, I sure am better but my ‘old ways’ have been hard to win over. Getting there though and that is the most important thing.

      Learning to be kind and self-compassionate is getting easier!

      Thank you.

      Denyse x

  4. Denyse, this was such an insightful post. I am especially grateful that you shared Tamara Levitt’s words about how we are our own best teachers.

    Hoping that you yourself are also on the mend!

    SSG xxx

    • Thank you SSG. Sometimes something we read ‘hits us’ between the eyes and I am glad that this post was helpful.

      I am much better and look forward to seeing what my GP thinks. As I said to Lydia I have had 4 invasive surgeries where bits and pieces have been moved, added and ‘nailed and stapled’ inside my face so it may be connected. LOL. Connected. Right!!

      Denyse x

  5. You’re so wise and so in tune with yourself – it’s so healthy that you were able to recognise what was at play here and are taking steps to be kind to yourself and adjust your mindset. Even better that you’re on the mend – I occasionally get migraines and they really are the pits!

    • I so am very encouraged by my learning to be able to make the choices I did by the time I got to Friday about that ‘rubbish’ self-talk but it’s been happening for a very very long time and I expect it could return but I know what it is about better.

      I thought I was done with migraines which is why I am thinking it might have been a virus. Migraines are the pits.

      Thanks for your kind words.

      Denyse x

  6. That inner critic voice in our head can be strong sometimes. I’m so glad that you’ve recognised how false these thoughts are and are treating yourself with kindness xx

    • So true Bella, so true.

      Dialling it down is what we need to do.

      Kind is going to be a continuing mantra for me.

      Thanks so much.

      Denyse x

  7. I admire you for being able to step away from the feelings & the habitual self-talk to see what was happening. That truly is self-care. x

    • Oh Jo, it’s only taken 69 years. Sigh.

      When I examined it more dispassionately it seemed ridiculous.

      However, I was brought up by a very dominant father, and the world of the 1950s and 60s were not exactly conducive to expression of emotions. Then of course, that was the way I continued as ‘the good girl’. Sigh.

      Glad I know how to fight that voice now and be kind to myself too.

      Denyse x

  8. Thank you for hosting this party.

  9. I think terms like self-care and unbusy and loving ourselves was something that was never on our radars until the last decade or so Denyse. I know I’ve struggled a lot with learning that it’s okay to not be perfect (thanks Brene!) and to allow time and space for my own needs. It’s such a release to give up people pleasing, trying to maintain a stoic and happy front, pretending and sucking things up. Now I admit much more freely when I’m struggling (just as you did in your post) and then it gives us permission to look at how we’re going to nurture ourselves more. It’s such a learning curve isn’t it?

    • It is but we have done the hardest part I think.

      We acknowledge it and understand it more for ourselves and that is the beginning of change.

      I really enjoy hearing and reading about others’ vulnerability as we feel ‘less alone.’

      Thanks so much for your understanding and sharing your struggles too.

      Denyse x

  10. I think it shows your inner spirit Denyse, you are vulnerable and honest with yourself first and foremost and then also with us. It can help to make ourselves accountable and I understand your hesitancy in sharing these inner most feelings/thoughts. Good on you for being so open and for sharing your lessons learnt. It can be hard growing up at times but you are always proving what a very wise and caring person you are. Thank you for all your sharing. #lifethisweek

    • Thank you Debbie, for your kind and caring words.

      You have bestowed some lovely compliments and I thank you for helping me see that I am doing this big change thing OK!!

      Sharing our vulnerabilities brings us closer in connections on-line and in real life.

      Denyse x

  11. Thanks for sharing. I used to have a lot of urgency re toilet visits and I put it down to my coeliac-ness though it shouldn’t have still been happening. My GP had me cut out some foods for a while (onions etc) and it helped a little but not much.

    Weirdly my weight loss surgery put paid to it. I still get an upset stomach from time to time but it’s not as bad as it once was (as it’d meant I couldn’t exercise / walk in the mroning if there was no loo nearby etc).

    • How interesting because what you describe ‘find a loo’ quickly was what for me is Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

      It was (and can be still) related to emotional upheavals of all kinds for me. I had it in my 30s, it went away for decades and then back in my 60s. I sure can pinpoint the ‘why’. However, I have found out gall bladder removal can worsen it. Had that in 2008.


      Glad things are better for you now. It’s such a darned nuisance.

      Denyse x

  12. Thank you for sharing your self care tips., especially when you are not feeling well. I hope all is resolved with the doctors trip providing some further relief/ answers.

    • Thank you Kerrie. The good news is I am feeling better and the doctor is like me, pretty sure it was a virus, given how my body felt as well.

      Denyse x

  13. Thanks for sharing this Denyse. It’s been helpful to read especially as this past week I’ve been berating myself for not exercising as much, for ending up with a sore throat, for making some poor life choices. And all it’s done is make me more down and unmotivated to exercise or do anything productive. I hope this past week has been better for you.

    • So the post resonated…and we are on a similar path to greater awareness of our self-compassion needs. Yay.

      But it is really hard not to go down that default path to berating straight away. In fact, I guess we do that but the change is in recognising it and then changing the voice and its message.

      I wish you a better, more comfy week ahead.

      Denyse x