Do I Feel Better Yet?: Questionable Attempts at Self-Care and Existing in General
“Reading Do I Feel Better Yet? Questionable Attempts at Self-Care and Existing in General is exactly the kind of self-care activity that will brighten your day, even if it doesn’t transform your life.”
Funny, witty, and filled with ironic truth, Madeleine Trebenski’s Do I Feel Better Yet? Questionable Attempts at Self-Care and Existing in General is a delight!
If anyone has ever suggested “self-care” as a cure to your problems, order a copy of Do I Feel Better Yet, and get ready to laugh.
A keen observer of her own life, the author has had everything from meditation to vaginally inserted jade eggs suggested to help her beat the blues. She documents many of these suggestions in this book in a wry and humorous way, so that the reader can chuckle along with the absurdity of these well-intended recommendations.
Of course, there are some suggestions that have general merit. Eating more vegetables in place of junk food or going for a daily walk is going to improve many issues. But Trebenski is quick to point out that self-care is often being suggested for everything from general malaise to overwork to medical illnesses, and that’s problematic.
One point of the book is that while self-care is important—we all need to be mindful of our health and daily practices—self-care is not a cure-all for “complex mental health and lifestyle issues.” Indeed, the blithe way in which some people can suggest self-care to address complex concerns is a form of victim-blaming. Sometimes, a manicure or candle isn’t the solution to what ails you.
Trebenski warns not to take her advice. She offers her thoughts based on experience, but is no expert. However even with that warning, you might want to take her seriously. Trebenski can be a friend who has been-there-done-that and can help you feel less alone as you manage your own wellbeing.
The bulk of the book is made up of wonderful stories about the author’s forays into self-care. They are both fanciful and illuminating. Check out the chapter on buying expensive rugs or the one about astrology that tells you exactly what you hope to hear; either will make you smile.
In the end, Trebenski notes that her efforts at self-care were often “impulsive, isolated shots in the dark.” They frequently didn’t address the deeper issues at hand.
More to the point, suggesting that people engage in more or better self-care practices can be akin to “telling people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” It can be degrading and minimizes the very real obstacles to healing that many encounter. Yes, many acts of self-care will help you feel better in the moment, but they do not generally solve the genuine problems we face accessing the services, treatment, and support we need.
Ultimately, Trebenski suggests that connection is a better solution to our problems than isolated acts of self-care. Sure, a healthful meal is nice, but a meal of any sort shared with a friend is considerably more satisfying. Having a companion who will witness and listen is often more helpful than an off-hand solution that doesn’t fit the problem.
While most self-care suggestions are harmless, digging down into the real problem and addressing that is the starting point for genuine healing and growth.
Reading Do I Feel Better Yet? Questionable Attempts at Self-Care and Existing in General is exactly the kind of self-care activity that will brighten your day, even if it doesn’t transform your life.