Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Putting Oneself First (or taking care of yourself before trying to take care of others)

There is a great conflict in my mind over putting my needs before those of other people (where the other people are actually in need, not just in the queue for the toilet or something). For the longest time I’ve struggled to reconcile the idea that a person needs to take care of themselves before they will be fit to take care of others. In the past I’ve tried to fight this notion, or rather truth. Consequently I agreed to be a part of organisations and take on roles that were beyond my capacity, in that I didn’t really have the energy or time to dedicate to them but blundered on forward convincing myself I would be OK giving a little more time here and there. They just wound up eating into my sorely needed down time. In the end, I was more of a hindrance to these groups than a help, but I always told myself I would definitely be OK doing these things because they were for other people and not for me.

As things currently stand, because I didn’t give myself enough time to get well and didn’t acknowledge my limitations, I graduated from university with a degree class far below what I should have obtained. Now that degree is quite a big obstacle to my ultimate dream of becoming a doctor, rather than the boost it should have been. Despite recognising that I direly need to get myself sorted out and do absolutely everything I can to overcome and (as much as is possible) control my depression, I am refusing to stop trying to move forward. In less than two weeks I will be sending off applications to various universities to study to become a paramedic. Classes wouldn’t start until September, so I’ve nine months to make some good progress with my state of mind, and I shall be talking with admissions officers to determine if I can defer a year should I not feel ready when September rolls around.

Even to me, this seems like it is probably a little mad, but I think the fail-safe of having another year to take off to get well justifies the decision. The thing is, I simply cannot stand the idea of stagnating. Of course recovering from illness is not standing still, but it is just so hard to convince myself to focus solely on that when in my day to day activities such as going to the supermarket, taking care of household stuff aren’t too badly affected. I feel like I ought to be out there making myself useful to others right now. Like I ought to be moving towards my aim of helping people in emergencies and taking care of others.

Part of why I feel the need to study and help people professionally is that I know there are so many places around the world where people need help. It irks me to know I live so comfortably while so many go without basic requirements and medical care. Sure I can donate a little money to various charities, but I so desperately want to give time and my (future) skills to those who need them. I know that unless I can get myself to a place where I can function well enough to become competent in my chosen field, I am useless to these people. This is why it is important to put oneself first. *

Yesterday I said today would be an outline of my grand master plan for 2012. Obviously this isn't it, but I felt it was necessary to talk about this first, because, considering that this is a blog** about ethics, humanity and making the world a better place, my grand master plan for the year might seem a little self-centred without context. Of course it’s entirely possible I’m just paranoid because I have this concept that my life will be without value if I am not in service to others and felt the need to justify having plans for the year that include learning to play the guitar.

*Even parents, who are their children’s life line and support, need to take some time off occasionally to recuperate. Luckily we invented babysitters.
 **Blogger's spellcheck was trying to convince me that 'blog' is not a real thing. Never have I known a website to be self-loathing. 

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