I try to love myself, I really do, but when you have lived with on again/off again depression for as long as you can remember there are going to be times when you slip into old habits. Your mind is the sum all of you and your perceptions of the world. If it tells you are bad or ugly that is not something you can easily escape from. I have made efforts to change how I feel about myself but there are still times when my mind tells me that I am wrong, defective, useless, stupid, and, ultimately, a bad person.
It would be easy to just say “no that’s not true” but when your thoughts argue with you and present you with the evidence for your being judged a complete waste of space you feel you have to listen. The mind catches you in moments of weakness and exhaustion, when you are already down and shows you the ways in which you have failed. Here I present exhibits “A”, “B”, and “C” from my mind.
Exhibit “A”: I am weak. I have always been a sensitive person. You know the “people pleasing” kind that wants to make everyone happy. Because of that anytime someone even looks at me like I might have done something wrong or acted in a “bad way” I start bawling and carrying on like a big baby. Especially if they are then disappointed in me. Disappointment is the worst! I hate myself for whatever I have done and the I cry, cry, cry. Then I hate myself for crying so easily, which only makes me cry even more. Then I spiral into a well of self hate that takes quite a bit of time and effort to climb out of.
Exhibit “B”: I cannot do simple grown-up things. There are the times when I am faced with making what, feel like immensely difficult decisions, and every time, I freeze up. I mean how hard is it to choose what I should get for lunch, or which brand of socks to buy, or what groceries I need? For some reason, for me, it is very hard. I panic, and then I either do nothing at all or I pick something just to get through the moment. No matter what I do there comes a time, later in the night when I realize whatever I did choose was wrong. Then I hate my decision and myself.
And finally Exhibit “C”: The horrible way I interact with other people. I laugh when I’m nervous, which pisses people off. I get instantly enraged and defensive about the smallest things, which makes me look emotional and out of control. I misunderstand everything and think serious things are jokes and jokes are serious things. My voice is tiny and quiet, people are always telling me to speak up, and to be a big girl. And on, and on, until I just want to go home where I can be myself without the demands of social interactions.
Some days I go home get in bed and think, “Lisa, you are the worst!. You are stupid and you are useless and you will always be stupid and useless!”
Eventually I do snap out of it. I know this must all sound very bad but I have been this way for a long time and have worked hard to understand my patterns and when things are really bad. I’ve learned a few coping skills over the years and take time to care for myself when I need to. Looking back I can see that it takes to pull myself together has decreased dramatically. I now only need a few minutes to an hour (sometimes two). Years ago it would have taken me days to recover. I know a lot of it stems from my childhood and low self-esteem but it is no easy fix. I fear I may be this way for the rest of my life.
It does help that I have a girlfriend who reminds me that she loves me, even when I make her mad or disappoint her. I also have friends who try to talk things out with me. They all let me know that I am a good person and they value their relationships with me. And the best thing they do is let me know that everyone does these things. The things I think are so bad about me are, in fact, perfectly normal. And I have family that even though they may not know it, cheer me up just by being around.
When I get down on myself I try to hear their voices in my head, to counter that mean ones that have been there my whole life. I am also working on developing a voice of my own too. I want to hear myself telling me that I am good, and smart, and that I matter in this world. I want to feel better because of me! Because I love myself and know that I am perfect. Perfect because I am imperfect. Perfect because my intentions are always good and I am doing the best that I can.
I want to know, without anyone else having to tell me, that I am doing my best and that is good enough!