It's my time
Stories of self care
Women's Health Week 2017
This Women's Health Week we're being asked to make our health a priority. It's not easy. We prioritise our loved ones and take care of partners, parents, children, friends, communities and careers first. And at the end of the day there's no time or energy left to invest in ourselves.
This collection of inspiring stories highlights the challenges and the positive change that begins when we prioritise our own health.
The stories are written by the participants of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. Also known as Women's Health Australia, it is the nation's largest, longest running study on women's health and wellbeing. For over 20 years, nearly 58,000 women have answered regular surveys. Their data contributes to research and helps to shape women's health policy. At the end of every survey the women have space to leave a comment on whatever matters most to them.
“The emotional difficulties I'm currently having are unusual and due largely to my new graduate job. Since resigning from this job I have felt my mental and physical health improve.
I was amazed that my health could become so poor as a result of being over-worked. It's incredible that even though I work in the health care industry I was required to adopt such an unhealthy, and unbalanced lifestyle.”
Comment from 1989-95 cohort Survey 4 participant.
"Three years ago my husband was knocked down by a car…He had neurosurgery and was in a coma…before being transferred…
Although he suffered no damage to his intellect the last three years have been quite traumatic for me in that a change of life style has been necessary to cope…
This last month he has at last been able to be left relatively on his own (with help from family and friends). I have had a month's holiday…This time completely away has given a great rejuvenation to my health, both mental and physical.”
Comment from a 1921-26 cohort Survey 1 participant.
"I have never been involved in so much conflict as I have experienced in the past two years. A lot of this has come from changes in society, the farming horticultural industry and enormous change in the education/training and employment fields. The change has been imposed from outside and people are jostling for position power and in some case their livelihood. In general, my home life is o.k. and relationships were generally good.
After writing this survey I have had a reinforcement that I need to re-evaluate my present situation. I have a serious health problem which is not going to get better if I don't take time out from the conflict, stress, and anxiety and re-charge the batteries.
I need to seek out less stressful activities - but still have some monetary returns coming from it to support our finances. But I now don't necessarily need to earn as much as in the past. I need to put my health first and make my decision totally on that basis."
Comment from 1946-51 cohort Survey 2 participant.
“I feel very tired, and stressed but if I go to the doctor I'll leave with Prozac/Senapax which will just create another problem.
My dream has always been to have a close happy family but I have children who don't really want to know each other and are spread all over the country. I have spent 30 years trying to give my children a better start than I had and now I can't stop.
I have to learn somehow to put myself first not last. If I could find a way of switching off my brain - just stop thinking - for a while ... How do you tell a doctor this ...”
Comment from 1946-51 cohort, Survey 2 participant.
“My health is beginning to be impacted on a bit by being the carer for my mother who lives alone in the family home. I have reduced my work this year so have a little more time to be with her - take her to doctor's appointment etc. I do get tired and stressed about her, her health, her aloneness in the house but I am not yet in a situation to have it otherwise.
Sometimes the stress seems to trigger a mild depression, but I'm really trying to stay on top of things as I am the only carer…I feel I need to be strong for mum and sometimes that is quite difficult. The whole issue of caring is a huge thing for us 'boomers' as our parents become frail elderly.”
Comment from 1946-51 cohort Survey 6 participant.
“I took up going to a gym…and it has motivated me, improved my health and fitness. I have made new friends.
The gym is for seniors or people recovering from Surgery. No loud music, leotards, or tattoos. Heaven."
Comment from a 1946-51 cohort, Survey 8 participant.
"I love these questionnaires. They make me reflect on my life. I had a eureka moment eight days ago which has turned my life around.
Life for the past eight years has been travelling weekly to my parents…as well as school pick ups…twice a week. Dad is still doing well at home and the thought of driving each week for another 6 years is daunting. It was sucking me dry.
My revelation is to re-evaluate and make things more reasonable and schedule some things for myself. Back walking and feeling a million dollars. I've done many good things in this time but just felt nothing. I now feel as though I have been reborn and am really approaching the best of the rest of my life."
Comment from 1946-51 cohort Survey 8 participant.
“Within 2016 I have started to develop a very painful form of inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine. Although I am in pain because of it a lot of the time, it has motivated me to be a better person, and pursue my dreams, and to not be ashamed of who I am.
Although my health is on a down-ward spiral, I am so much more happy now than what I was six months ago even. I know now that bad things can happen to anyone, whether it’s someone’s health, family problems, finances, violent relationships whatever it may be - there is always hope.
Life is a beautiful gift."
Comment from 1989-95 cohort, Survey 4 participant.
The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health is managed by the University of Queensland and the University of Newcastle. We are grateful to the Australian Government Department of Health for funding, and to the women who provided the survey data.
For more information visit www.alswh.org.au