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 the time for kindness toward myself?”
Perhaps you struggle to get out of bed due to a chronic illness stifling your body or mind. You may wish the life described above were possible. Maybe brain diseases such as depression affect your ability and wish to function. Your question might be, “Why bother being kind to myself?”
Most of my life I did not understand the concept of self-care. It seemed out-of-place, irrelevant, and a product of selfishness. I did not know that a healthy routine of sleep, eating, daily hygiene, and finding time to relax are considered self-care. In my understanding, any word or phrase that started with “self” was probably bad.
During the metamorphosis of thought and beliefs that occurred under Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, I began to practice self-care as described to me.
Until that time I’d seen major depressive episodes as events that happened to me. I thought I was helpless against depression and its destructive paths. As a suicide attempt survivor, not learning to manage depression meant certain death. The motivation of not wanting to leave behind such a hurtful legacy, pushed me forward.
Each small step of self-care led to another and then another. My brain began to react to the positive fuel it was receiving. Action began to change my thoughts, which influenced how I felt, which slowly picked away at my 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 our self-care at the top of our list makes us more healthy and capable of being who we want to be. Try having compassionate love for you! It won’t make you selfish.
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.