• Kristina Cherep

Don't You Dare Call Us Selfish

About almost two years ago, I was rushed to the hospital for severe abdominal pain at the end of my spring break. I was visiting my fiance (who is now my husband) two states away from home. I was there because it was my spring break. The only reason I wasn't playing softball on that spring break is because I was injured with a numb arm and they don't pay for injured players to travel with the team.

I am going to share the week before I was rushed to the hospital because it will make more sense why I was rushed there. I was just about to leave for my 8 hour bus trip to start my spring break when my coach called me up to his office. He told me that someone had quit the team, so I would be able to travel with the team if I wanted to. I had responded with, 'Sorry, I already bought my bus tickets and I am going out of state.' I didn't even think before I responded. I just responded and then walked out of his office.

The only reason why I had responded this way was because I had just found out that I would most likely not be able to play softball ever again. At this point in time, it broke my heart every moment I thought about softball, so I knew I wouldn't be able to spend a week watching my friends play it without me. This was a tough decision to make and not very like me, but I guess my subconscious knew that I could not mentally take it.

After I left his office, I rushed back to my apartment and got all of my stuff together for my trip. While I was doing this, the whole team found out about the girl quitting and me being able to go now. Most were understanding of my decision, especially the other injured players. They understood how low I was feeling. However, one of my friends did not understand and instead called me selfish behind my back. At least that's what my other friends had told me she said.

I received texts about this from my friends while driving home to catch the bus. This shook me to my core. I was driving on Lake Shore Drive sobbing uncontrollably. I called one of my best friends, who I see as my sister, to help calm me down. She was not able to answer, so I kept sobbing feeling betrayed and now apparently selfish. I had never been called selfish in my entire life, which I think is why it had also shocked me. The word had shocked me.

I continued driving home. I really didn't care about anything. If I had crashed the car it didn't matter because I was selfish. Then finally my best friend called me back. I explained to her what had happened. It took awhile to explain because I was also trying not to cry or hyperventilate. She had understood why I responded this way because she knew how depressed I had been feeling about everything lately. She knew how much I needed this trip with my fiance to help bring some happiness to me. She was also shocked and disappointed that someone would call me selfish. She had told me that I was not selfish at all and that I needed to take care of myself. I needed to take care of my self to survive. At the time, I had still felt selfish even though she was telling me I wasn't.

This story still makes me feel uneasy even writing about it two years later. While writing this I had a rush of emotion full of anger, sadness, disappointment, but also reflection. It made me realize that the decision I had made two years ago was not selfish. Up until this point, I had seen that decision as a selfish decision. But, it wasn't.

When dealing with anxiety and/or depression, it's mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. You need to make sure you make time for yourself and have some self care. THAT IS NOT SELFISH. That is saving yourself from self-destruction.

I was unfortunately not able to enjoy this spring break because I felt like a selfish person. In fact, at the end of my trip I was sent to the emergency room for abdominal pain. The doctors couldn't find anything. Now looking back on it and after doing more research, I was probably feeling anxiety and depression. That's what the pain was. If I had not been called selfish, then I might have had a better and more successful time trying to take care of myself.

Don't be afraid to say 'No' to plans if you really need to take care of yourself first. Take a nice bubble bath, drink a glass of wine (of course if your medication allows you to), write about your feelings, color in an adult coloring book; do something for yourself! You're not selfish! You're saving yourself.

If you know someone with a mental illness and they cancel on you, maybe it's because they need to take care of themselves. Instead of calling them selfish or another rude comment, ask them 'Are you okay? How can I help? Do you want me to bring over your favorite wine or ice cream?' Saying something positive to them will allow them to possibly be able to take care of themselves instead of just going through the motions.

I hope this helps someone with a mental illness realize that it's okay to take care of yourself without feeling selfish!