Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2012 Nancy Virden
“Don’t push yourself too hard, now.”
“Get some rest.”
Sound familiar? It’s common to assume this kind advice will be heeded, at least a bit. However, there are those who seriously struggle with the concept of self-care. Perhaps you are one.
“My health doesn’t matter. If I die it will be a blessing.”
“It doesn’t matter if I protect myself.”
“Not sleeping postpones the next dreaded day.”
“I don’t care!”
If this second set of phrases sound familiar, you’re not alone. I’ve heard them repeatedly, and said them when I was depressed.
Self-care is crucial to improving one’s outlook on life. The regular practice of self-care can even change a negative self-esteem into a more positive one.
If we behave as if our outlook is joyous, regardless of how we actually feel, our brains will eventually catch up. Someone once said, “we cannot always think our way into action; but we can act our way into thinking.” One quick way to feel a bit better is to do something kind just for you.
“You can think about what you need and then pursue getting those needs met,” my therapist once said.
“Really? That’s ok?” I said.
What had made me feel good in the past? What made me feel empty by its absence? The answer was obvious – creativity. Without it was as if my brain would shrivel up.
Finding an art class in the midst of severe depression was not easy. Attending was even harder. Now art is a regular form of self-care.
What is it you need? What does making yourself happier look like? Ask what activities you would be involved in if you were not depressed, then do them. Major Depression saps our motivation, so I am not saying this is easy. It is doable.
We all deserve, yes I said deserve, to exercise self-care.
NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.