Day 9: Taking Care of Ourselves

We all need breaks especially when you’re juggling writing, home, significant others, work, kids, critters, friends, etc….  We all like to think that we’re superhuman, but we’re not and we have to have some downtime to rest, recharge and restore.  We need to sleep at night, nap if needed and just veg out at times.  I know that it might not seem possible for us to do that, but we have to do it otherwise everything in our lives will suffer.  We need our health…mental and physical…and that’s the 1st thing that suffers when we try to get by on less than the optimal amount of sleep.  I began writing Rapture when I was suffering from a brutal case of insomnia.  I’d get home from work, eat, spend time with Rick and my critters, then sit down and start writing.  I would stop around 1:00am and try to sleep but to no avail, so I’d get back up and write some more.  Around 5:00am, I’d lie down and would get maybe an hour’s sleep before I had to get up, get ready and head to work to begin the cycle anew.  This went on for several weeks.  By that time, I was barely functioning.  I couldn’t think straight or remember anything.  My relationships, work, and writing were suffering.  I was angry all of the time and, quite honestly, I felt as though I was on the verge of a breakdown…and I was.  My husband forced me to go to see my doctor who put on some medication that should have helped me sleep but didn’t.  He referred me to my current neurologist, who is amazing.  He also prescribed sleep meds that also did not work.  I did several sleep studies and he figured out that I had delayed sleep phase syndrome, insomnia, and narcolepsy.  He then knew how to treat me even though it took some trial and error to get me on my current meds.  By the time that we had the answer everything in my life was basically on hold.  I couldn’t write and could barely think.  My marriage suffered a little but we weathered it.  Rick stuck close to my side while all of this was going on.  Work also suffered to a degree.  After I started sleeping again, I was able to do all of the things that had ground to a halt when I was getting an hour of sleep per night.  This I know, is a worst-case scenario, but it illustrates my point.  Take care of yourself.  Eat right, exercise, see your doctor regularly, socialize, and, of course, sleep.  Humans are machines.  We need care and maintenance so that our bodies can perform at their highest level.  That’s probably the most important writing tip I can give you.  You can’t do your best writing if your brain isn’t functioning properly and your brain isn’t going to function properly if you neglect your physical and mental health.  So, take care of yourself.  And rest.  And write.

“Self-care is not selfish.  You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” ` Eleanor Brownn

About Donna Heilman

I am a writer that lives in Irving, TX with my husband, 3 dogs, and 5 cats. I am currently working on my novel, Rapture, as well as writing poetry and some short non-fiction. I am honestly writing this blog to feel more connected with other creative people.
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