What Stephen King Taught Me About Self-Care

What Stephen King Taught Me About Self-Care

September 5, 2016 | Posted in: Self-Care

“This is a sponsored post for Self Care Catalysts. I have been compensated through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. All opinions remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.”

Dictionary.com defines self-care as “care of the self without medical or other professional consultation.” But, it can also be defined as the initial maintenance of one’s mental, physical or emotional health, at least, I say it can.

How exactly you and I go about maintaining our mental, physical and emotional health may vary as widely as what Mexican restaurant we feel is best or which Star Trek series we assert was best written. The important part is that we go through the process of learning what works for us and by default, what doesn’t.

After perhaps hundreds of recommendations, I relented this year and finally read On Writing by Stephen King. In my usual style, I was crying just pages in because there are few things that move me like people overcoming obstacles. It took a while but I realized a bit further into the book there was something deeper happening, as well: My soul was moved by his love of writing. I recognized this love.

In the final section of the book, we’re told about a horrific accident and a harrowing recovery. Stephen is hit by a van while out for his daily walk. The scope of his injuries leave questions about his chances of survival and then his ability to walk in the future. In one of my favorite lines from the book he says,

“I entered the hospital on June nineteenth. Around the twenty-fifth I got up for the first time, staggering three steps to a commode, where I sat with my hospital johnny in my lap and my head down, trying not to weep and failing. You try to tell yourself that you’ve been lucky, most incredibly lucky, and that usually works because it’s true. Sometimes it doesn’t work, though, that’s all. Then you cry.”

He goes onto to share about his painful road to recovery and the one act of self-care that gets him through–––-writing. And while early on in the book he explicitly gives us permission to write, here he gave me a silent permission to do two things. The first was to get hit by a van. Of course, his was literal and mine was figurative. My van is named chronic illness–––– Lyme Disease, Common Variable Immunodeficiency Disorder, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Interstitial Cystitis. But if it was okay for him to get hit by a van, if it was okay for him to get knocked down and need some time to catch his breath, I figured it was okay for me, too. The second thing he gave me silent permission for was to use writing as self-care. It wasn’t until that day I realized that’s exactly what I had been doing. It wasn’t until then I realized writing was how I’d been processing my emotions and keeping my mind sharp. It was also how I was connecting to a self-care movement called writer’s groups. Here, I was not only growing my craft but increasing my social sphere. The world of the chronically ill often shrinks by the day but mine was growing larger and larger by the day. Who knew Stephen King was actually an advocate for self-care? And by writing, you and I can be advocates, too.

So what does self-care look like for you? How are you caring for yourself emotionally, mentally, physically? What self-care movements are you connected to? What stories of self-care have moved you?

*Feature image courtesy of Unsplash

 

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What Stephen King Taught Me About Self-Care

 

My name is Stacey. I battle Chronic Illness and I am a writer.

 

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11 Comments

  1. Annisa Swanson
    September 5, 2016

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    I love your heart, your transparency and your willingness to speak for all of us!

  2. Tawni
    September 6, 2016

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    Wow, this is such a touching post. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing from your heart.

  3. Keri Underwood
    September 6, 2016

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    My aunt has suffered with Lyme Disease for 7 years. Until the knew what it was the told her that it was an autoimmune disease that she would never recover from. I know that she has gone through hell and back and has FINALLY got some answers and treatment. She is now back on the road to recovery! I know that there were so many things she did for self-care. Everyone has different things that give them that mental peace. I am so glad that you have found yours! And I love that we all get to be a little part of that self-care by getting to read the words that bring you peace!

  4. Norma Gail
    September 6, 2016

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    I love your thoughts on self-care. It took me a long time to learn that it is okay to take care of myself and step back from other ministries in the church and tasks in life. I don’t like to be criticized by those who think they have the answer to what will make me better. We each have to walk our own road to recovery, or to learning to survive without recovery but a true acceptance of the place where we are in life. Thank you! I have suffered from chronic pain and illness for 40 years.

    • Stacey Philpot
      September 8, 2016

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      You just said it all right there Norma. Amen and Amen

  5. Chronic Mom
    September 6, 2016

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    That books sounds amazing, thanks for the recommendation!

    • Stacey Philpot
      September 8, 2016

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      It’s on my list of unexpected forever favs for sure! I hope you love it as much as I did!

  6. Rebecca Doner
    September 7, 2016

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    I enjoyed your honesty about feeling the permission to use writing as self care. I think we often deny ourselves this care for fear it is unnecessary or selfish in some way. But it is beautiful and healing. Your writing is lovely. Thank you so much for this message.

    • Stacey Philpot
      September 8, 2016

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      Thank you for reading, Rebecca! And yes, for some reason we do seem to buy into this, “We must push on!” thing even when we’re so sick there is no pushing on. If something brings us peace and ushers in healing why would we skip it? Or maybe we do it but we say it’s about something else, something more noble because taking care of ourselves isn’t a noble endeavor. It’s maddening.

  7. Marya
    September 9, 2016

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    That book has been on my to read list for a long time. Writing really helps me too.

  8. Chris Nedley
    September 10, 2016

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    Very nice write-up. I certainly appreciate this site. Thanks!

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