This was the prompt at a meeting I went to today. I didn’t have an answer, because I don’t really do self care. I’ve only recently even let myself realize that it’s a thing I need to put effort into, because, until recently, I could just deal with whatever came up (generally by wallowing in the emotions, but…).
In the past year, though, I’ve had several nervous breakdowns. I’ve started having semi-frequent panic attacks. I had, what I think was, a depressive episode.
Once I let myself notice that, hey yeah, my mental health is really declining, I started to realize that things that I had classes as “just bothersome” and nothing to worry about, really are things that I deserve to consider when doing things or making decisions.
I physically can’t watch some things, can’t listen to some sounds. I can’t reliably process audio input, especially with visual as well, and so I have to have subtitles when I watch video.
And I have to know when I need to back off. When my brain is going fuzzy and everything is going to go to hell in a handbasket if I don’t excuse myself. I have to know when to be alone and when to push myself to be with people.
I have to find ways to protect me from myself.
And all of these things are methods for self care. Maybe self care itself.
But I’ve found out what my definition of self care is.
Self care is making tomorrow as good as it can be, by what you do today.
The great advantage of working with pulps in the Hevelin Collection is that I get to go through each mag page-by-page. The web contains all sorts of indices that give us the contents of almost every pulp, cover photos for many, and, in some cases access to individual stories, editorial comment, and reader letters, but what these separate indices cannot give is the “seat-of-the-pants” phenomenology of the overall experience of a single issue. I’ve been fascinated by the order in which stories appear in an issue, in the interior artwork for each story, the editorial headnotes for each story, other editorial apparatus, the response of readers to earlier issues and the response of the editor to reader comments, etc. And I’ve been particularly interested in the advertising in each issue, finding many ads targeting new technologies and technological job opportunities, many ads promising various self-help programs, some ads that seem totally incongruous, and, increasingly in the 1940s and 50s, ads that emphasize sex. Here is a brief sample of the ads I’ve come across: