Contrary to popular belief, depressed people desperately want to feel better. I know this from my own experience. For me, the self-loathing and apathy were excruciating. I would pray and pray and pray that God would fix me, or would send me a man who would fix me. But neither of those things would ever happen no matter how often or how feverishly I hoped and prayed. Eventually I was so sad and hopeless I pondered jumping off my 20th floor balcony. I sat with a noose around my neck. I felt like I was being swallowed whole by my mere existence.
When I came out of that funk, I was terrified by where I’d been. I felt like I’d been balancing on a tightrope over the pit of hell. I never wanted to be swallowed up by that fear and emptiness and darkness ever again. I knew I had to take my life into my own hands and stop waiting on someone or something else to change me.
I hate pablum and cliches. So I am often too cynical and sardonic to “lower myself” to follow simple, common advice from friends and family. But at this point I was willing to try anything, even things other people had suggested. (How gauche! :rolleyes:)
I had to get off the couch, stop isolating and get back into the world. I started going to AA meetings again. I let myself enjoy food that was fattening. I volunteered to work with FurKids, an agency that works to rescue and find homes for homeless cats and dogs. I continued to be active in my church.
Yes. All the things that people had been telling me to do for years.
Even though it was sometimes tiring, and I was socially engaged more often than I really liked, I quickly realized that I was feeling better. Part of it was being with people. Part of it was spending three hours a week playing with kittens. Part of it was the serenity I found in other women’s stories in AA. Part of it was Ben & Jerry. And frankly, lots of times it was just being too busy to worry about all the things and people in the past and the future that I’d been obsessing and worrying about.
Man, it was an incredible relief! I was starting to feel like myself again. The weight was lifting off my shoulders. I actually looked forward to things a couple of times! I felt like everything was finally coming back together.
But one piece of advice that I’d been told over and over still kept nagging at me. “You have to love yourself.”
Well how the hell do you do that?!? I can’t just will myself to fall in love with the next guy I meet. How can I do that with myself. Love is one of those things you either feel or you don’t.
So, with no answers, I just went on and kept trying to open myself up to people and stay active and be less critical of myself and others. I said the Serenity Prayer out loud a lot. I felt so much more in control of my life. But there was still that unscratched itch at the thought of how to love myself.
And then one day, out of the blue, it occurred to me. DERP! I’ve always thought about love as a feeling. But turns out, love is a verb!
It’s the way we act, and the way we treat and care for ourselves and others! You are kind to yourself. You do nice things for yourself. You forgive yourself. You treat yourself as you’d treat your neighbor. THAT is how you love yourself. Turns out love isn’t a feeling; it’s an action.
It had been that simple all along and I was just too smart to see it.
❤ ❤ ❤