Proud2Bme | Taking Care of Yourself While Caring for Others

  • Body Image
  • Personal Stories

Taking Care of Yourself While Caring for Others

By Lauren Myers--Watching a loved one become someone they never were hurts more than anything. I watched my mother go from being energetic, outspoken and selfless to physically frail and cognitively limited due to chronic illnesses in front of my eyes. I was thrust into the role of being a caregiver with absolutely no warning. I had to learn how to deal with a world of responsibility at a young age. I became her main provider of her food, shelter, clothing, prescriptions, medical appointments, and transportation. Also, her primary source of entertainment and social engagement.

I had no idea how to handle this situation. I put my time and effort into trying to “fix” the world around me by channeling my energy into support. I thought that if I tried hard enough, I could be all the things to all people - daughter, sister, employee, student, community member. I became overly involved in many areas of my life to distract me from feeling my emotions. Eventually, all of this started to take a toll on my physical, mental, and emotional health.

I felt responsible for my mother’s health and believed if I didn’t do anything, no one would. Taking care of her was a demonstration of love and commitment. Any time spent away from her continuous care demands I equated as selfish. I internalized this belief along with weight stigmas, biases, and discrimination I was surrounded by during my childhood. I neglected my needs which eventually triggered an eating disorder.

It was difficult for my family to understand and recognize my internal struggles when it seemed externally that I was taking on their obsession of thinness and dieting. Their negative beliefs around their own body image and size was a reinforcement of my own eating disorder voice. I felt like I was constantly trapped in never-ending dialogues both in my mind and the world around me. I saw the journey of college as an escape from this environment and an opportunity to grow and discover myself both academically and personally.

Entering college is where I recognized I needed care, help, and support like I was giving to others. I didn’t want to continue being stuck in a pattern of thinking that taking care of others was easier than taking care of myself. I opened up about my struggles to other students, my advisers, and on campus counselors. I learned that I was suffering from anxiety and an eating disorder. It was a relief knowing another person was able to understand my struggles.

I thought that I was the only one who believed self-care is a selfish act. Now I know that isn’t true. It’s not selfish to care about my own health. It’s self-love. Breaking patterns and overcoming obstacles isn’t easy but it can be done. I took time to understand that I can’t stop the impact of my mother’s illnesses. I can only take responsibility for my personal wellbeing. I gave myself permission and found resources to make it happen.

About the blogger: Lauren is a student at Simpson College majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Women's Studies and Exercise Science. On campus, Lauren is involved TriDelta, SELF - a body positivity and activism group, SARA - Sexual Assault Response Advocates, and volunteering. 

Info

Facebook discussion

get help

 

About Us

Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

Proud2Bme was first launched in the Netherlands by Riverduinen, a mental health organization that has licensed the concept to the National Eating Disorders Association. Unless otherwise noted, all original content on this site is copyright The National Eating Disorders Association. The Proud2Bme brand, logos, and trademarks are property of Rivierduinen.