Self Care, One of the Internet's Favorite Buzzwords
Women have long been the target of marketing to fix anything from their outer appearance to their inner wellbeing. While many brands and products may partake in #SelfCareSunday on Instagram, what does that do? Has targeting people's mental health become a new source of revenue for companies? Self-care has become a buzzword word tossed around to fix all your problems, but in all reality, if you're suffering from anxiety or depression, a nice long shower isn't going to solve anything.
For as long as I've known, even before I knew what anxiety entailed, I have had anxiety. During college, it manifested into me getting into a complete frenzy before any test or constantly trying to overbook myself to avoid spending time alone with my thoughts. It never felt debilitating because that's all I knew. Keep yourself busy, be the best you can be, and spend excessive time thinking and rethinking any decision you make becomes the norm.
However, two years ago, my 'run-of-the-mill anxiety' turned into panic attacks and hyperventilating at random times. There were minor signs that things were getting worse, such as checking every door, window, faucet, and light switch in the house before I went to bed. Other times, I would wake up in the middle of the night trying to catch my breath and then end up gasping for air and crying for the next 30 minutes for unknown reasons.
I would go for a night out with my friends, so I didn't have to be alone that night, only to have just a little too much to drink and not be able to suppress my panic attacks. I would end up walking out of the bar, sitting on the stoop of the bodega next door, trying to compose myself enough to walk back inside as if nothing had happened.
I knew that wearing sunglasses on the metro ride home from work to cover up my teary eyes was no way to live, and my usual coping mechanisms of keeping myself busy weren't working anymore.
As fortunate as I was to have been surrounded by two women who would sit with me through these panic attacks, at the end of the day, they are friends, not professional therapists.
I wasn't sure if I would be able to afford therapy after realizing that my insurance wouldn't cover it. I tried TalkSpace, and much as I wanted to like it, it didn't work for me (I have known others to use it and have had great experiences, but therapy isn't a one-size-fits-all approach). I found what worked for me when I discovered a non-profit in DC that many pre-licensed therapists use to gain clinical hours. Through therapy and advice from my therapist to meet with my doctor to get on anti-anxiety medicine, things started to improve.
All that being said, a shower steamer won't fix your anxiety and don't let self-care marketing make you feel like a singular product will solve all your problems. But a relaxing shower, a long walk, or meditation will remind you to take time out of your day to focus on yourself and not overlook mental health issues.