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Recently, a close family member of mine was diagnosed with malignant ascites.

Extremely simply put, my family member has a build up of fluid in the abdominal cavity that, after initial tests, shows cancer. Currently, doctors are conducting a variety of tests to determine the exact location, extent, and finally, treatment options.

So, how does any of this relate to “celebrities,” the theme of this blog?

Well, when medical disasters like this happen, celebrities seem to have a team of support–immediately. Tons of doctors, quick appointments and results, staff to handle all of their everyday needs–you get the idea.

Us everyday folk? Not so much. We can hire help, if we can afford it, but overall we have to navigate things ourselves.

When events like this happen, many of us kick into crisis mode, which it itself isn’t necessarly a bad thing–until we forget to take care of ourselves, too.

You’ve heard it time and time again, but if you can’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else?

When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water. — Benjamin Franklin

During this time, I’ve come up with some ways–and watched my family come up with some ways–to manage an emotional crisis and still take care of yourself.

1. Deal with work head-on.

Don’t try to juggle everything if you can’t. Take time off if you have to; work from home if you can.

2. Get organized.

Being organized helps keep you calm and take control of your peace of mind. You can organize nearly everything, including:

  • Family schedules, such as your child’s soccer practice or dance recitals.
  • Household chores, such as when it’s time to buy groceries or do laundry.
  • Medical needs, such as organizing medicine, doctor’s appointments, and other healthcare needs.

You can use your smartphone calendar (which is great for setting reminders), Yahoo! or Google calendars, or even use tangible calendars or print calendars from you computer. Maybe you’ll want a calendar for each category; maybe you’ll want to keep things all together with one calendar.

3. Let it go.

One that note, sometimes you can let some things go. Laundry, groceries, sticking to your carpet cleaning appointment (this is a real life example)–these things aren’t crucial.

Helping your loved one is absolutely necessary.

4. Ask for help.

You can’t do it all by yourself. I’m sorry, you just can’t do it all by yourself and expect to take care of yourself, too.

Learn to delegate with those you can (your children, your spouse, your siblings) and ask for help from those you can (your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors).

These people are crucial for support, and sometimes support means helping you with those things you’ve had to “let go.”

5. Pay attention to YOU.

How do you feel day to day? How do you feel right now?

Of course you’re worried and stressed and scared.

But, are you overwhelmed? Is it hard to breathe sometimes? Are you getting any–much less enough–sleep?

You must take time out for yourself. It sounds selfish, but it’s true. My family members and I are currently working a schedule that has one of us tending to herself at all times.

It’s OK if you need to:

  • Have a spa day. Get a manicure and pedicure, have a massage, or get your hair styled.
  • Pay attention to your diet and exercise. Physical deterioration isn’t going to help you help your loved one.
  • See a doctor. A psychiatrist or therapist can help you through this time (and offer WAY more help than I can).
  • Find a support group. There are tons of support groups for family and friends of people dealing with cancer, diabetes, AIDS/HIV, and other health concerns.
  • Ask for help. Again, if you need a break, ask for one. Ask a family member or close family friend to take over while you take it easy.

Understand that I am by no means an expert. Please feel free to share your own tips to take care of yourself during an emotional crisis in the comments below. Your suggestions could help me, as well as anyone else who finds this post.