Mental Health Awareness Month: My Sister’s Keeper & Taking Care of Home
Written by Melika Matthews
For anyone that grew up like me, the sentiment of looking out for the family is near and dear. Especially for the ones that “make it.” The idea to lift those around you as you succeed (or climb) was deeply embedded into my values and constantly reinforced.
So I naturally assumed the responsibility to look out for the family as I climbed through undergrad, grad school, and the workforce. I became the dependable sister/aunt/child that was looked to for help or answers. I was there when a sister needed housing, childcare (short term and long term), rides, and financial support. In part, I took pride in being the responsible and dependable one, but (whew) I was exhausted.
In the Spring of 2020, the exhaustion took over. It became imminently clear that I was not taking care of home (myself). I suddenly found myself unemployed in an unrecognizable world. I was struggling to make sense of things. I was no longer climbing — I had been knocked down. And, there wasn’t anyone readily available to lift me up. Although my loved ones offered encouragement, I just couldn’t get up. Among other things, I decided to give therapy another go.
Committing to therapy has become my primary way of practicing self-care. It has served as a ladder, helping me realize that I could stand back up and continue to climb.
While I haven’t abandoned looking out for my sisters, I am working on avoiding the exhaustion of it all. I’m better balancing taking care of home — and looking out.