Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness (c)2016 Nancy Virden
You rush in the mornings, defer to customers and bosses all day, or perhaps children and home front demands surround you. You may need to compromise with your spouse in the evenings, meet volunteerism duties, and go to bed late catching up on bills. Saturdays fill up with chores, Sundays with church, and then you are back into your week.
Whew! You might ask, “Where is time for me?”
Perhaps you may wish the life described above were possible. Chronic illness stifles your body or mind. A disability prevents you from work. Maybe a mental or behavioral challenge such as depression affects your ability to function. Your question might be, “Why take time for me?”
Most of my life I did not understand the concept of self-care. It seemed out-of-place, irrelevant, and selfish. I did not know a healthy routine of sleep, eating, hygiene, and relaxing is considered self-care. In my understanding, any word or phrase that started with “self” was probably bad.
During the metamorphosis of thoughts and beliefs that occurred under Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, self-care drew my interest.
Until that time I had seen major depressive episodes as events that happened to me. I thought I was helpless against their destruction. As a suicide attempt survivor, to not learn management of such “attacks” meant certain death. Avoiding self-care was reckless.
Each small step of self-care led to another and then another. My brain began to react to the positive fuel it received. Action eventually changed thoughts, which influenced emotion, which slowly picked away at false beliefs.
That is why self-care is important. From meeting minor physical needs, to developing a healthy routine, to allowing for fun – self-care changes one’s mindset.
Putting self-care at the top of our list makes us more healthy and capable of living as who we want to be. Compassionate love for oneself is not selfish. Without it, self-neglect may toss us out of the game altogether. Certainly, we are better equipped to care for others.
You matter too!
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.