When I was in college, I went 54 hours straight without sleep. Just let that sink in for a little bit. Think about how tired you are after a long day of work or how tired you feel after you’ve been walking around in the hot sun all day trying to make it from Point A to Point B.
Between studying working and being an active member of my sorority, I was just incredibly busy. I woudl just go, go, go and say yes to everything but sleep and stretch myself incredibly thin. I wore my lack of rest and “ability” to please everyone as a badge of honor, like I was Superwoman, ale to conquer everything that life threw my way.
Over a decade later, I look back at that itme and wonder, “What was I thinking?!” Staying awake for that long and feeling like doing so woudl gain attention and attraction from my peers was not healthy at all. Over a decade later, I realize that i”m not alone in this behavior.
As a part of Mental Health Awareness month, Deidra Murphy shared her story of mental illness with me.
In 2013 Deidra found herself in the midst of a hurricane of activity. She was planning a wedding while also juggling a teaching job and then a career change; buying and moving int o a new house, working with her new husband to expand their clinic and on top of all that sleeping very little – all in the span of six months. Deidra found herself placing her own health and well being at the bottom of a long to do list. A severe lack of energy left her feeling hopeless, depressed and rejecting relaxing vacations because she didn’t want to pay for a vacation she wasn’t going to be able to enjoy.
I found myself nodding my head, understanding everything she was sharing. It really hit home when she said, “Not only did I feel like I had failed myself, but I felt like I was failing our patients, my husband, and anyone who looked to me for answers on health and wellness. Internally, my brain was yelling at me, “how can you help others when you can’t help yourself?!”
A point came when Deidra told herself that she had to make a decision to practice what she preached. She had been advising others to eat properly, exercise regularly and minimize toxins, so she did the same. In addition, she started saying no when she had to. She started asking others for help. In short, she started listening to her body and taking care of all aspects of her health. As a result, she found moved from thinking it would be easier if she passed away to proving to herself and others that she can be a beacon of hope.
As I look over Deidra’s story, I am reminded so much of mine. I remember thinking that self care was selfish. But it’s just the opposite. When we take the time out to invest in our own health, we become so much better for the people around us. When we feel good, when we are rested, when we are able to enjoy life, we are so much better equipped to encourage others to do the same. Self care, whether it is physical, emotional, intellectual or mental is not selfish.
“Why did God decide to let this battle become such a part of my life? I am still unsure. But maybe this, what I type right now, is the reason. Maybe he wants me to share my story with the world so His power of healing can be made known. It is only through HIS grace, HIS power of healing, and HIS forgiveness that I am back to where I am today…God puts people in our lives to help lift one another up, don’t feel like you have to handle the burden all by yourself.”-Deidra Murphy
Deidra’s story is not a story of weakness. Rather, it is a story of bravery and victory. By recognizing her illness, she stepped onto the road of becoming the best version of herself. Deidra’s story inspires me to care for myself and to remember that our accomplishments are so much greater when we can recognize them as good and be satisfied with what we’ve done rather than beating ourselves up for what we failed to do.
Too often, (and so many people who I love) push myself to be perfect and to be everything to everyone at the cost of my own health. But Deidra’s story reminds me that we can best love others when we love ourselves and accept the fact that we deserve to invest in ourselves and our health.
Thank you, Deidra for being brave enough to share your story and use it to inspire others!