I have a confession to make. I have a reminder on my phone that goes off every morning at 8 o’clock that says simply, “You’re awesome.” This might sound dumb but you’d be surprised how often I forget that fact.
This is just one tool in my arsenal of tricks that I use to combat the depression and paranoia that come with a mental illness.
I’ve been in some pretty dark places and I’ve thought many times about putting an end to things when I’m having a hard time, but then, every day at 8 a.m. my phone vibrates and I’m reminded that I’m awesome.
Therapists and gurus talk about the power of positive self-talk. I’ll be the first to admit that I have as hard a time talking nicely to myself as anyone else, but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t work.
Loving yourself can be particularly hard at times: a breakup, a rejection, a demotion at work, or when some jerk says something mean. I know this all too well. In fact, the crux of my mental illness has me constantly paranoid that people are making fun of me or plotting against me. Although not based in reality, that has me feeling worthless and outcast a good percentage of the time.
As a writer and a guy with a tendency of falling in love way too easily, I’m no stranger to rejection. If it’s not an agent rejecting my novel, it’s a cute girl saying she sees me as more of a friend.
My point here is that I spend a fair amount under the impression that I’m no good, ugly, a bad writer or just plain unworthy of happiness. I know where you’re coming from if you tell me you’re not feeling so hot.
In times like these, I usually find myself spending a good amount of time curled up on my couch listening to sad music. I have to force myself to do the things that would come naturally to some other people, such as showering or eating.
The point of all this, though, is that you have to force yourself to find your confidence again. Take all the time you need to feel sad after something bad happens, but at some point you have to realize that things need to change.
My go-to remedy is usually a hot shower, a good talk with my mom, a nice walk and a good sleep. Usually by the morning I feel OK again. Then at 8 a.m. my phone buzzes, reminding me that I’m awesome, and things start to look up.
Another major tool I use for loving myself is reminding myself how far I’ve come, from a confused and scared 20-year-old in a mental hospital to a writer for The New York Times.
It may not seem like anything good is happening in your life, but change does happen, although it happens slowly and sometimes we don’t realize the extent of it.
The key is being patient and to keep working for the things that you want. Just remind yourself that eventually, at some point down the road, you’ll get there. In the meantime, taking time for yourself and focusing on how awesome you are can quell pretty much any major anxiety.
Loving yourself is hard, I know. Just remember that no matter how bad you feel, there are people out there who think you are awesome. If they have a reason to think that, than there must be something great about you, even if you don’t realize it. Love and opportunities will come and go. The only thing that’s permanent in your life is you.