The only way I can ex­plain it is this: If my life were a Jackie Collins novel, she would have de­scribed it as a ner­vous break­down. So much was go­ing on—from my can­cer di­ag­no­sis and fam­ily is­sues to the death of my best friend and men­tor, tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity Chris Hyn­d­man. I was also jug­gling two jobs—I was on The So­cial in the morn­ing and Etalk at night—and I was a full-time sin­gle mom. I didn’t re­al­ize how deeply all of it was af­fect­ing me. In hind­sight, I was not eat­ing right. I was not sleep­ing at all. I was check­ing off all the boxes for ev­ery­body else, and I put my­self at the bot­tom of the list, as a lot of women do.

“I was run­ning non-stop un­til I hit a wall on Bell Let’s Talk Day in Jan­uary 2016. There was an au­thor com­ing on The So­cial who had lost her son to sui­cide. I had read her book and I knew some­thing was up with me, but I couldn’t put my fin­ger on it. I broke down in tears dur­ing re­hearsal and didn’t do the seg­ment. I ended up film­ing half the show think­ing ‘Wow, that was a close call! I hope no one no­ticed.’ Af­ter that, my VP pulled me into her of­fice and said: ‘Traci, what’s go­ing on? Are you okay? What do you need?’ And that was it.

“It’s one thing in the of­fice to say ‘Yes, I’m tak­ing some time off.’ It’s an­other thing when you’re at home. I felt guilty. I felt like a fail­ure. I asked my­self: ‘Are you kid­ding me? You’ve got th­ese two great jobs, your chil­dren are healthy and you’re healthy now. How dare you?’

“For the first two months I was on sick leave, I went to ther­apy. I went to my fam­ily doc­tor. I did hot yoga. I got acupunc­ture. I med­i­tated. I did all the things I was sup­posed to do, but I was too busy check­ing things off the self-care list—I didn’t fo­cus on heal­ing my­self in­ter­nally. I still thought ‘I should have my ass at work.’ Three months in, my friend, TV per­son­al­ity Teri Hart, said to me, ‘You re­al­ize you ac­tu­ally have to com­mit to chang­ing some­thing that has been a part of your be­hav­iour for­ever.’ I was fight­ing it. And then the light went on, which gave me per­mis­sion to say ‘You don’t have to feel guilty about want­ing to take care of your­self. You de­serve a break to sit in your feel­ings, heal, grieve.’ And so I al­lowed my­self to feel and heal.

“I took off about six months in to­tal, and then I went back to Etalk in Au­gust 2016. I de­cided not to re­turn to The So­cial be­cause I was happy and ful­filled with my du­ties at Etalk and I didn’t want to put too much on my plate. With my cur­rent sched­ule, I am able to take care of my­self. And it opens up a world out­side of work for me and my kids. I miss the show—the amaz­ing women and amaz­ing crew—but not the dou­ble duty.

“Here’s what I learned: I think that multi-task­ing is bull­shit. Peo­ple aren’t meant to multi-task be­cause it means that you’re not in the mo­ment and not be­ing mind­ful. I read Shonda Rhimes’ book, Year of Yes, about say­ing yes to ev­ery­thing that scared her. It’s my Year of Yes, and I learned how to say no to other peo­ple.

“Ask for help, and you can let some things go. Some­times your bath­tub is go­ing to have a ring around it. Some­times the vac­u­um­ing is just not go­ing to get done. The world is still go­ing to turn. If you have the choice of do­ing the dishes or be­ing so­cial, be so­cial. (Okay, I am most likely go­ing to do the dishes first… this is still a work in progress.) But I’m not that pre­cious about the things I used to mi­cro­man­age any­more.

“When you have a bro­ken leg, you put a cast on it and peo­ple can see it. Men­tal-health is­sues are ob­vi­ously harder. They’re harder be­cause you have to go see some­one to be di­ag­nosed and you have to be hon­est and forth­com­ing with how you are feel­ing. Peo­ple are more likely to speak to their doc­tor about a phys­i­cal ail­ment ver­sus a men­tal-health con­cern. Even if you don’t want to talk much about your chal­lenges with peo­ple in your ev­ery­day life, it never hurts to make an ap­point­ment with your GP for that con­ver­sa­tion.

“I know self-care sounds like a buzz­word now, but we have seen what hap­pens in real life—in Hol­ly­wood, in pol­i­tics and with our friends—when peo­ple don’t take care of them­selves. I’m just re­ally pas­sion­ate be­cause I want every­one to feel good and stay fab­u­lous. I am grate­ful we’re talk­ing about this be­cause if it helps one per­son, it’s worth it.”

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