Saturday, 29 July 2017

#boringselfcare - why I did this project

(Please note when reading this, I am not a writer and have dyslexia so really struggle to articulate what I think clearly. )

For a really long time I have felt, and still feel that the way the term 'self care' is used on the internet alienates the people for whom struggling with self care actually affects them day to day.
Self care seems to mean, on the internet anyway, activities you only engage in as a luxury, like the classic; fancy bath bombs or buying fancy crystals. Often activities which cost money, are only nice things or only available for able bodied people. For me I think even the way 'self care' term is used, it insinuates you have to do it yourself, shaming an alienating those who need actual people and carers to do it for them (for what ever reason, physical, emotional and/or neuro diversity etc.) This is not my understanding as a mental health professional at all. Self care refers to all the activities we need to do day to day and the 'self' bit doesn't mean you have to do it yourself.

I've felt so confused by how the internet has completely changed the meaning. Someone said to me it was 'white feminism'  and/or 'tumblr' which came along and changed the meaning. I kind of agree.

I really wanted to create something which separated itself from the internet version of self care and give it a new name. I came up with '#boringselfcare' mostly because I was drawing all the boring things I either find difficult when unwell or can't actually do. Again, I was never insinuating that the activities are merely just boring, sometimes they are ok, sometimes shit, sometimes simple, sometimes awful, sometimes essential....maybe I should have thought of a better name.

I created the 'asked for help' illustration because so many people, myself included at times, need help to do the most basic self care.


I feel that the hashtag is not for everyone. It's for people who struggle day to day. It's for people with mental health problems, chronic illness, disability etc, not for able bodied and people without mental health problems to post selfies with the hashtag.  I have stopped looking at the hashtag now though, I found too many people using the hashtag in a way I did not want.

It's strange the way the internet changes the meaning of terms, definitely still at work, when you use the words 'self care' everyone knows what it means, people needing to do the most basic activities.

The internet needs to stop using the term 'self care' in such problematic ways and I feel a bit sad that the 'boring self care' meaning may eventually, if not already, be taken and used in a way I never intended.


4 comments:

Wen said...

Fuck the Internet. Those of us that follow you are so glad to have someone able to help us express those daily struggles. I've had plenty of people tell me to care for myself in that pampering way you describe. What they don't know is that when it's hard to get out of bed just to go to the bathroom, picking up those undies off the floor is HUGE. And something as "simple" and "silly" as that actually does give you a sense of luxury as you regard those clean patches of floor. And having you and all your followers validate that experience through the boring self care concept makes me OK with getting my badge for the day and not striving for an Instagram day in the park or candlelit bath which, as you say, is the co-opted version of self care we're told to do.

Leslie Hanson said...

Hannah finding you has changed my life. I have a chronic illness and your "boring self care" badges have affected how I view things in my life. The most mundane things are difficult a lot of days and in my mind they were "should" and "have to". Now that I think of them as self care they are a bit easier to get done and it feels great to have done it for me. Your drawings are wonderful and the concept is brilliant. Bath bombs just don't cut it.☺

Maggie said...

I like these illustrations because they remind me that even at age 57, with depression I still struggle sometimes to do the little things that constitute self-care (taking my pills... oh dear!)

Unknown said...

most of the time i feel the internet is a gaping black hole of perfect people and their perfect lives where you go if you want to feel really inadequate and sorry for yourself. your work is what reminds me the internet is also a place to feel less alone. where we can go to remember that even if all we did today was rest and drink a glass of water that that's good enough. great, even. you help us celebrate REAL life for a lot of people. it's our collective responsibility to use the internet in a way that leaves it better than we found it. you are leaving it better than you found it. for me and so many others. i have spent a good part of my day today writing out your boring self care list to hang on my wall for the inevitable days when i won't be able to get out of bed. when i call in for three days straight at work for reasons i cannot explain. when i want to press the fuck it button. when my anxiety is so high i can't move. your list may seem like common sense to others, but i have spent my entire life trying to figure out why it is so hard for me to do things like take a shower, love my body, clean my room, etc. what a revelation it is to realize that i'm not lazy, i'm just really sad. thank you for being part of that revelation and encouraging us to do the best we can, in whatever small ways we are able to.