mila clarke buckley in front of Houstonian Hotel Tree

Choose yourself.

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Earlier today, my friend Phyllisa asked our diabetes group chat how we were doing.

How we are all really doing.

We all answered with a mix of emotions. We all quipped about the general woes of diabetes management, and the stress that comes with the holidays.

I really appreciated Phyllissa’s question because it’s very rare for someone to ask how you’re really doing aside from the pleasantries.

Especially because lately, I’ve been really crappy.

Having a full-time job and a full-time blog (read: second full-time job) is stressful.

Part of that is the 3 hours I spend in the car each day, plus somehow fitting in exercise, meditation, self-care, time with my spouse, time with my family, cooking, eating and the tiny bit of sleep I get.

Somehow on top of all of this we decided that we want kids.

I’m just like “HOW?”

It’s also all of my daily decisions about managing diabetes. Every moment of every day feels like it’s taken.

And I haven’t found time for me.

It got so bad for me last week that I had a panic attack for the first time, and it was one of the scariest moments of my life.

I thought for a second I was having a heart attack. I was gasping for air, holding my chest, my arms and my back hurt, I had this horrible pain in my stomach and I was dizzy. I honestly thought I was dying.

When I calmed down I realized what happened.

It made me take a moment to recognize that it’s not fair to fill up every moment of my free-time with blogging, diabetes advocacy, and brand work. Even though I love those things, and they make a difference, they are killing my energy.

Sometimes I need a damn moment because the stress of it all is a lot.

I had that panic attack when I wasn’t even thinking of my endless to-do list. Even if you’re not directly thinking about it all, it can hit you like a tidal wave.

And when you feel like it’s all on you, it can be crushing.

Holiday lights

Diabetes management is hard all year long, not just at the holidays. But, somehow getting through the holidays is harder when you don’t have the endurance.

So many friends this week said “I need to step away.” I respect them so much for it, and I wish I could do the same. At some point, I’ll have to let something give.

But I have a few words for someone who might be feeling how I do. It’s what I tell myself when I’m frazzled.

When the holidays bring on stress, choose yourself first.

When you feel overwhelmed, choose yourself first.

When you’re at a breaking point, choose yourself first.

When you want to cry, or scream, or you feel like you won’t get through it, choose. Yourself. First.

Choosing yourself first might look like shutting off your phone and not taking any calls for a night.

It might look like doing something you WANTED to do, rather than something you had to do.

It might be taking a few extra days to respond to an email because you’re drained.

Maybe it’s unapologetically saying no to doing something you really didn’t want to do in the first place.

The holidays are one of the hardest times of the year to compose ourselves.

If you’re like me and never want to let anyone down, you’ll get crushed under the weight of obligation. You’ll feel like you have to be everything for everyone.

But be selfish and be there for yourself for a second.

A friend of mine told me before that you can’t pour from an empty cup. You can’t give your best when you’re run-down and operating over your capacity.

So take some time. Take a deep breath, and don’t let stress win.

Do whatever it is you need to take care of yourself and don’t apologize for needing to take a moment.

We all need a second to collect ourselves and pause the endless to do this.

Your list of things will be there forever. You may not be.

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