Save Yourself First

I’m sitting on the small regional aircraft, along with 50+ other people, listening to the instructions I have heard over and over –

In the event of an emergency, take the oxygen mask and place it on yourself.  If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.

The words resonate with me and reaffirm my approach toward finding a way to coexist with a chronic disease, such as Multiple Sclerosis.  The times I feel as if I am going down in an emergency are often the same times I stop assisting myself first.  I hear from other friends, and women in particular, who are struggling to stay afloat with their family and job responsibilities.  Most of them are also living with an unwelcome guest in their personal health life, but this dilemma is not exclusive to those of us who are chronically ill – even healthy people have trouble following this path.

….. take the oxygen mask and place it on yourself…

secure your mask first and then assist the other person.

Should the plane encounter sudden problems and I am busy trying to help everyone else first, eventually I might succumb and most probably find myself in a state of emergency waiting for others to assist me.  It is counter-intuitive in our society, especially for women, to put our needs first before those of our family, friends and even strangers. We like to be helpful, and to be needed, and to contribute to the well-being of others – or at least most of us do.

We get pretty good at ignoring our symptoms and pushing through – often that comes back to bite us and we find that pushing on does nothing but deplete our energy and leaves us with little or next to nothing left for ourselves .  If that happens, we certainly don’t have the extra energy to help others.

…..if you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance,

secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.

 We are often pulled by obligations from family, job, community expectations and other forces, and repeatedly our own needs get set aside. It’s a hard lesson to learn – putting our own needs ahead of the needs of others takes practice, but believe me, everyone will be better off if you can do just that.

By taking care of ourselves physically and emotionally, we are better prepared to take care of others.  It is not selfish to take care of ourselves first – I would argue it might be the most self-less thing we can do.  When was the last time you took a leisurely walk, read a book, listened to your favorite music or done one of the many things you might consider a luxury or indulgence?  Can you remember how good it felt to do this act?  Just the release of stress from these activities can improve our health and stamina.

In the event of an emergency, take the oxygen mask and place it on yourself. 

If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance,

secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.

So how many times do we need to hear this message of taking care of ourselves first before we heed the message? I know I personally need it repeated over and over to remind me of the importance of the message in case I have begun to backslide.  We have all heard it said – we can’t be good to help others if we don’t also take care of ourselves.  Living with Multiple Sclerosis needs us to follow that edict even more.  Whatever it is you do to take care of yourself, I hope you find the time to do it today.

Wishing you well,

Laura

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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