• Joni Ganguzza

Confessions of a Workaholic: How I Failed at Self-Love and 5 Ways I Love Myself Now

February is the month of love. You walk into the grocery store, it literally looks like it vomited up "love" everywhere. An array of pink and red flowers, balloons, chocolates, stuffed animals, desserts E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. The whole focus of showering someone you love with love. But here is the truth. You cannot love someone else well when you don't take care of yourself or love yourself well. So I think February should be the month of Self-Love and Care and a better way to love yourself is not with flowers and chocolate but rather focusing on your physical and mental health.

You can't be super mom, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, employee, entrepreneur when you have spread yourself too thin. Back in March of 2019, I decided to "love" my family and my husband so much, that I took on the role of supporting my entire family financially solo while my husband worked on a new career. Remind you we had an AuPair, my husband, myself and my SEVEN (yes, all biologically mine and my husbands) kids in my household. I became a workaholic. I worked 5-6 10-12 hour shifts/week, working 13 out of 14 days happened monthly, I slept no more than 6 hours/night, I never saw any friends outside of my colleagues, and the hours I spent with my loved ones I was tired and absent. I was not loving my family well when I was with them because work got the best of me and there was nothing left to give to the ones I love.

This went on for 6 months, until 5 days before Labor Day 2019, I was dizzy and by Labor Day I developed a very rare autoimmune encephalitis that left me with a weak right side, slurred speech, double vision, unable to swallow, shortness of breath and inability to urinate. Y'all, this is what not taking care of myself got me. Autoimmune illnesses love to develop in stressed our 30 something year old females that are sleep deprived. I try not to live in the world of "what if" in my mind, but if I had practiced self care and not been such a huge martyr for my family, I wonder if I would be in a different place today. But, I do hope that my lesson on lack of self love, is a reminder to someone else why self care matters.

I tell myself all the time, I can reflect on the past on how it shapes my present and future, but I can't live there. So to be the best and healthiest version of myself going forward, these are the 5 Self-Love and Care Changes I have made:

1) Therapy

Before getting ill, this is something I never tried. Partially because I was way to busy to schedule a weekly anything for myself. But I don't think anyone is strong enough to go through what I went through and not struggle a bit mentally. Accepting I have an autoimmune illness that has left me with permanent neurological deficits has been hard to say the least. I also didn't always want to feel like I was dumping all my thoughts/worries on my husband or friends either. A therapist is a neutral party. She's there to give me an unbiased opinion, give me suggestions on how to deal with worries, affirm my choices if they are the right one but hard to make and be someone I can be honest with but not worry about their opinion of me. I wish I would have done this in the midst of making the decision to work 60 hours/week because I'm sure she would have talked me out of it.

2)Accepting Help

I rarely asked anyone for help for anything. We would hire help, we would sacrifice but I would rarely ask anyone outside of my husband for help. I could not have gotten through the last 5 months without help from friends and family. When I came home from getting chemotherapy 2 weeks ago and felt like crap, my friend immediately arranged a meal sign up for us that has helped tremendously. Not to mention all the gift cards people helped us with for the holidays and groceries or the neighbors that took my kids to sport practices or watched them so I could rest. It took a huge stress/burden off of us and I am so grateful.

3)Mirror Image

After attending the Rise Conference with a friend for my birthday, every single time I look in the mirror, I refuse to say anything negative about my appearance and always find something I like about my appearance now. Can I tell you what a gift of self love it is to stop hating on myself?


I start every morning with the Start Today Journal and Planner. So every morning I write down 5 things I am grateful for. So it makes me thing outside of my normal - my husband, kids, etc. I've learned to be grateful for the smell of clean sheets, a heating pad, access to healthy food, great doctors etc. It also keeps me focused on bigger goals which gives me more excitement and purpose in each day.

5)Nutritional Care

I realized with a suppressed immune system and new medications, my nutrition was paramount. I've had pain in every joint, a big weight gain followed by a big weight loss, thyroid function all over the place. I needed to control what I can control and that's what I take into my body. I took a self assessment on the ID Life website which showed me vitamins and supplements that would help with better immunity, joint pain, migraines, thyroid function, gut health and I take those now in hopes I can get off of daily ibuprofen.

Make a change, and make February the month of self-love so you can love your loved ones well. Take care of your physical and mental health so you can give your family the best of you.

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