It's Okay to Make Time For Yourself

I am officially obsessed with my hair right now. I have naturally curly/wavy hair and for all of my adult life I’ve worked to smooth those curls out and have nearly straight locks. Well recently I found out about the curly girl method and have actually been trying to nourish my hair into beautiful curls. There is this whole science associated with successfully treating curly hair involving removal of bad ingredients, adding nourishing products, using said products in the correct combination, determining whether your hair likes protein or not and conditioning appropriately, applying coconut and other healthy oils, even the meteorological dew point!  Sounds a little like biomedical treatment, doesn’t it? (And don’t baulk about the meteorological connection to biomedical, just look at how we treat parasites – following the Luna cycle.)


While we were on vacation last month my husband laid down the line and said I wasn’t allowed to research autism or Alzheimer’s, both of which have been consuming me. So being the crazy, researching autism mom that I am, I started researching the curly girl method. I decided to work on making myself feel and look good. I’m only bringing this up because although it is extremely important to do the research and be prepared when treating your autistic child, you need to do something that makes you feel good. For me, research has become such a part of my daily activity that I’ve even incorporated it into my relaxation. It may not be the best idea, but baby steps, right? Baby steps.


So much of my life has revolved around reading the latest research or buying supplements. I kind of love buying supplements now. I see them as these awesome little packages that improve our overall health and wellbeing. Pretty much my whole family takes some supplements even if it is only a quality probiotic or aloe juice. Now I research hair care products and scour the aisles looking for organic products that fit the method.


You don’t have to do what I do, but you do have to do something. Something for you, that just makes you feel good. If you can’t fit much in during the day try small things like a few pushups, finding a funny blog to read, try a new recipe, buy some new nail polish (non-toxic of course), grow an indoor herb garden, start a simple collection. When you start to make those things habit, expand the time commitment if you can. Make time for yourself. Take a class like knitting, sewing, cooking or karate, join a book club, find some other autism parents and have a progressive potluck dinner, make cool holiday decoration – start early. You need to do this because you can’t be productive if you are running on empty.


And you are running on empty, aren’t you? I know I was. I always felt so guilty if I did anything for myself. I was fine letting my husband do personal things, in fact I encouraged it. I could see the toll all this was taking on him, but me? No, I didn’t count. I could go without. I even felt guilty if I bought new underwear! That money could be used for therapy or doctors’ appointments. Anything other than me. But who was I helping really? I was miserable, unpleasant, and just so tired.


Don’t feel bad if you aren’t “there” yet. It took me a very long time and lots of soul searching before I realized my children deserved a better me. All this other stuff I was doing, although very important, didn’t make me the kind of mom I wanted to be for my kids, and that is what motivated me to make some happiness for myself. It sounds so easy doesn’t it? Just decide to be happy. And in a way, that is exactly how easy it was. Whenever I start to feel bad or melancholy, I stop myself and tell myself I won’t let this happen.  My kids should be happy and for them to be happy, I need to be happy. There, it is done.


Stay well.

Maryann (Tribal member since 2005)

Maryann DellaRocco is the mother behind the blog Matthew’s Puzzle, which chronicles her journey into the world of autism and biomedical interventions. She is married and has three boys, her oldest is on the spectrum. Follow her on Twitter: @mehmig.
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