Loving Myself (Ugh)

My therapist: “You need to practice self-compassion,”

Me: “I will… when I earn it.”

We sit facing each other in her cozy office, with the light from a large window casts a friendly glow over us. It’s been a good session so far. I like her. She reads all the right books; she has a Wonder Woman water bottle on her desk. She even uses just the right amount of profanity. She smirks at me gently, because even though we’ve only had a handful of sessions, she still seems to know me pretty well at this point, and I see no reason to pretend I make any kind of sense.

I don’t love myself. I am not self-compassionate or self-caring. Sometimes my depression makes me very selfISH, and the damage that does to me and to my life and to my relationships… It has ruined any chance of me looking at self-love with any kind of realistic viewpoint.

So I need to start here: why not love myself?

Answer: I’m afraid of being a narcissist. I’m afraid that while I often hate myself, I also do sometimes think of myself and my own wants before anyone else, and if you covered that with a blanket of self-adulation or vanity, I might be an unstoppable force of evil in the galaxy.

Except…

Self-worship, self-adulation, selfishness, vanity… these things are not self-love or self-care. Narcissism is based on what the mindless self wants. Self-care seeks out what the mindful self needs.

There are things I need to do for myself that my soul genuinely needs like my body needs air, water, food, etc. I need Forgiveness, Purpose, Love, Passion, Mission, Recreation… all the things that Depression wants to shove aside and replace with Escape. The things I need will keep me healthy, but my Depression wants me to starve on a diet of spiritual and emotional junk food.

The worst part about it is that I’ve convinced myself that by denying myself these things I’m making some noble sacrifice, as if denying myself these things will mean that there’s enough to go around for everybody else. It doesn’t work that way.

I’ve got to stop saying I hate myself. I’ve got to stop saying I suck. Saying these things out loud gives too much power to this disease that’s putting itself between me and my future. I don’t need fancy tricks or cute activities to woo myself into a loving relationship. I just need to start with a cease-fire in my head. No more “I Hate Me.” No more “I suck.”

Maybe when that’s done I can take a bubble bath or something.

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This is What I Hear

This is what I hear. This is what I can’t escape. This is why I don’t write for more than five paragraphs at a time.

You suck. You can’t write. You’re just enough about writing to know that what other people can write is good, but at best your writing is derivative.

What can you write that hasn’t been written before? You want to write about depression? Oh wow, like that hasn’t been done by like thousands of others before you. You want to write about music? You can’t sing, you can’t play trombone like you used to (and when you did, you weren’t that great), and your attempts to play guitar are laughable. Why would you think anyone would want to write what you could sputter out about music?

You’re a fake and a sham. The only kindness you get from others is rooted in pity, and pity can’t outlast impatience. People are getting tired of you and your shit. Your only purpose in life is to be a warning to other not to reach too high.

You’re garbage. Your writing is sophomoric, reflective of a mind that is slowly disappearing into despair and confusion. Why don’t you step away from the computer…because you have no business using a keyboard.

How do other people with depression ever manage to create? I really would like to know.