Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c) 2018 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
“Don’t push yourself too hard, now.”
“Get some rest.”
Sound familiar? A friend said that to me this past Friday as I prepared to return to the hospital due to an ongoing physical issue. It is common to assume one would want to receive such advice positively.
However, there are those with depression who seriously struggle with the concept of self-care. Perhaps you are one.
“My health can be ignored. 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 sounds familiar, you are not alone. I have heard them repeatedly, and said them when in deep depression.
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.
At the time, the answer was obvious – creativity. In its absence, it is as if my brain will 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.
This weekend another need proved itself – yet again. In recent days several highly stressful events occurred, all of which I chose to keep primarily to myself. In the Emergency Room, test after test for the condition I had assumed would explain depleting energy, racing heart, and shortness of breath came back negative. It was an anxiety attack.
I constantly preach to my readers and audiences to reach out for support. Yet hypocrisy stared me square in the face. I had ignored emotional self-care.
It is easy to let self-care slip by which is why we must be proactive. 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.
Take care of yourself! I promise to also.
Today’s Helpful Word
Jesus answered, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. -Jesus
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
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 are yours.