Home > activism, diary, politics > Housework as self care; don’t create a second patient was never just about immediate danger

Housework as self care; don’t create a second patient was never just about immediate danger

Tired of being tired? Chilling out and stepping off the hedonic treadmill contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue

Buying a product because the emptiness of the hedonic treadmill of consumer capitalism has in all probability exhausted you is like taking a cold drink because you’re chilly.

Ok, so this is obv just written from my perspective.

Today I had a scheduled “day off”. They don’t happen often – I’ve pretty much always got something on, between paid work (of which I’ve been doing a ton for past month or so in order to pay off London/India trip debts), activism, meetings/workshops/discussions, hobbies, supporting people in various ways, socialising, spending time with those who are important to me and more political activism. Past couple of months have been even more intense with Rachel’s anniversary, Pesach (for which I helped a friend with first night seder, and then hosted one for 8-10 people on 2nd night) and 3 house guests who each stayed 3-5 days. Looking back at my diary, there was just one day in April where I wasn’t busy for at least 8 hours, and on that day I was still up early and helping a houseguest get ready and go for his train. I ended up very frazzled by the end. I was even more unreliable than normal and was almost in tears from it all. I had so little time to myself, with almost constant human interaction, and I really do find that draining, even though I enjoy time with people.

Anyway, May has started much better. Had a fun Mayday, though after a few hours on Buchanan St, which inevitably included lots of people I was very happy to see and catch up with, I left the others for a precious few hours alone at home, before heading to Cristicuff’s election workshop, and then a fun evening in a local pub including my only adult karaoke performance; 3 of us dedicated “Tell Me Lies” to all those participating in the election, though we needed to clarify before we started that yes, that includes the SNP candidates, and no we were Anarchists not hairdressers! Saturday was busy with helping flatmate move out, and then big important conversations with a longterm lover. Sunday and Monday were 12 hour shifts in an unpleasant ward. So last night I really needed some fun so went to a couple of pubs with couple different groups of friends.

A lot of what I do can feel like “obligation” – even though I choose how I fill my life and have more control over it than most. Its partly because my long/medium term plans involve commitments to people/groups/activities. And partly because I wanna do all the things, dammit! And have lots of interests and people/communities I care about and want to nurture the connection with. But I do end up rundown on an overly regular basis. Am trying to do better with it. Get into healthier habits. Which neatly segues on to the point of this post :)

Along with all of you who don’t have an unproblematic relationship with yourself, I have problems prioritising things that only benefit me. And since I now don’t have a flatmate, that now includes housework. Not that I was great at it before, but I did feel an obligation to do all of our washing up every few days. However, what with recent busyness and whatnot, I’d got to the point yesterday where I didn’t have any clean crockery left, and my laundrymite was reaching for the ceiling. I just was doing everything else. So today, with the video chat companionship/dj’ing of a friend in a different city who was doing similar, I began tackling the housework. And as I did it, I realised that by actively choosing to nurture my nest, when it is only me who will be affected by it, I was telling myself something important: looking after myself is worth my time. I deserve a nice living space. I care about myself enough for that to be on my schedule.

Doc, still very missed and massive influence on my life, said, but tragically didn’t practice, “Don’t create a second patient”. As someone caring for the health of others, whether first aider or nurse – but equally valid to probably everyone be you a parent, friend, social worker, community organiser etc – your first duty to those you would help, is to keep yourself able to provide that help by not incapacitating yourself. In the street medic workshops where he first drummed this into us, the examples were those familiar to all those who know DR ABCDE, such as check for oncoming traffic or exposed live electricity wires before rushing to help. In this setting the dangers are all immediate ones that would acutely stop you from giving first aid, and add to the patient load of other firstaiders and emergency services. Early on I started thinking about gloves and other PPE in a similar way – if I’m ill because I did not protect myself than how can I help anyone else? And after Doc died, as the waves of grief induced anger coursed through me, I realised that he’d never actually applied that principle to himself properly either – as he rushed from disaster zone to international workshop, his life characterised by trauma, heroism and international travel, he might have been a PITA about his goddamned fresh grapefruit juice and organic meat (I really hope at least someone reading this got a chuckle of reminiscence from that!) he ran himself into the ground. And we lost a dear uncle, friend, trainer, carer and precious elder. By not taking care of himself properly, he (imho) contributed to his own death.

I don’t have some pithy ending to this post. It was just a lot of different stuff that ties together for me and I wanted to write down. Maybe others will have similar reflections. And maybe I’ll read this back over in 10 years when I’ve forgotten all this again. At the very least, I’m giving personal language to all of you who are in my life to get through my thick skull next time I’m being an idiot ;)

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