Student Voices: Take Care of Yo’ Self | Work of Arts
Student Voices: Take Care of Yo’ Self | Work of Arts

Student Voices: Take Care of Yo’ Self

Letting go of guilt a necessary step towards health, says student blogger Brittany Johnson

I had a bit of a health scare recently. I came down with what seemed like a fairly typical cold and was getting by with some honey and lemon lozenges, tea, and a lot of Kleenex. Nothing really out of the ordinary. I went to bed on a Monday evening only to be awoken by a nightmare that I had forgotten to floss and something was digging into my jaw (I know, I know, a nightmare about flossing is hilarious but it was actually scary at the time). I went downstairs to take some Tylenol for the pain, drank some more tea, and tried to breathe in steam as I was feeling quite congested still and I thought perhaps the pain was related to that. When it got worse, I went to see a doctor.

Fast forward two and a half days. I am unable to move because I am in so much pain, and I have gone to the ER where a CT scan of my skull showed that not only did I have a whopper of a middle AND outer ear infection, but it was spreading into the mastoid bone in my skull, creating a condition called mastoiditis. Mastoiditis is rare in adults, apparently, but I somehow had it. If it isn’t taken care of, it runs risks of developing into something even more serious.


I spent the next two weeks off from work and school recovering, hopped up on multiple medications and sleeping as much as I could. I’m still not 100%—I have lost some hearing that I might not get back, and I still have shots of pain off and on. 

And you want to know what the worst part of it was? The Guilt. I felt guilty for missing work, guilty for missing class, guilty for not being able to do my readings, guilty for not being able to take the kids swimming like I had promised them before I got sick, guilty for needing to give my body the time to rest.

It took until I started to feel a bit better that I realized how often we allow ourselves to feel guilt for things we have no control over. I didn’t choose to get sick, it just happened. It was ridiculous for me to be feeling guilty over something I was not able to change; I should not be feeling guilty that I quite literally just needed to sleep and to heal and leave the rest alone for a while. But yet the guilt persisted.

“It took until I started to feel a bit better that I realized how often we allow ourselves to feel guilt for things we have no control over.”

I started to think back to how this year has been: a constant state of busyness, deadlines, meetings, soccer games, grocery shopping, papers, late nights and early mornings. Sure I occasionally took the time to get in a little bit of self-care, but was I really taking care of myself?

Taking care of ourselves can be really freaking hard when we are students, parents, employees, or have other familial or personal commitments. Getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating somewhat properly, exercising. All of these can seem like daunting tasks, and often we just brush them off or feel guilt when we do them. We slowly become drained to the point where we have nothing left, to the point when our physical bodies just can’t fight off small infections and we wind up with mastoiditis—and are finally forced to take time off to rest and to heal.

Since I have been back to some semblance of normalcy, I have made a concerted effort to eat as healthy as I can, to listen to my body’s cues of being tired, to drink more water, to make sure I am getting up and moving around, and to learn to let go of unnecessary guilt. I am hopeful now that with summer approaching and classes being finished I will have more time to just be, and I truly wish the same for each and every one of you who reads this.

Listen to your body. Give it what it needs. No matter what comes your way in the next little while, do whatever you can to take care of yo’ self.

Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and viewpoints of current Arts students. Through their posts, you’ll experience the creativity and passion of our students as they present glimpses into student life. The views and opinions expressed within these posts are solely those of the authors.

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About Brittany Johnson

Brittany Johnson

Brittany Johnson is a Métis PhD Student in English and Film Studies. When she isn't busy with grad student life, she is a singer/songwriter, burlesque dancer, creative writer, wifey and mom to two kiddos. As a trained Indigenous full spectrum doula, she aims to encourage traditional teachings about bodies and sexualities and to support folks however necessary. Her song "Making Bacon Naked" can be heard on CFWE, and she is always down for jamming and creating some sweet, sweet music. She is currently writing a novel, and hopes to have it published relatively soon. Social media: @brittcath