I am so pleased to bring to you the first guest post for this month! This post was written by Kate. Please head over to her Twitter and Blog to check her out. Kate is honestly one of the purest people I’ve ever “met”. Kate is such a sweet, caring, kind, thoughtful, supportive, brave, determined, honest and all around amazing person! Please check her out, you 100% want someone like Kate in your life. Thank you so much, Kate, for sharing this post with us all.
TRIGGER WARNING – Suicidal thoughts/plans are mentioned so please be mindful of that before you continue.
Onto the post.
The value of self-care and self-kindness
“The world would be better off without you in it.”
That is what the little voice in my head says every single day. Sometimes it’s as loud as the thunder that makes your windows shake, and sometimes it’s as quiet as the breeze flowing through the trees, but it’s always there, always waiting, hell-bent on destroying me. This isn’t the only thing it says, of course, but it’s the loudest. It also loves to tell me that I’m useless, that I’m stupid, that I’m worthless, that I’m not good enough. It knows exactly what cards to play and when to play them. It knows exactly what I don’t need to hear, and it will scream them at me until I believe it. In my therapy sessions, I’ve come to call it Hate, because that’s what it is. It is pure, unequivocal hatred towards myself, and it wants me dead.
So when my therapist raised the concepts of self-care and self-kindness to me, they were completely foreign to me. I didn’t deserve any type of kindness, I was a horrible human being and deserved to know how hated I was, who deserved all the pain and suffering I had. There was no doubt about it. So why would my therapist suggest this absurdity to me? He couldn’t seriously think I deserved this kindness, could he? Well, the simple answer to that is yes, he could. He didn’t have this voice inside his head telling him that I was horrible, that I was a burden, and that I was annoying. He didn’t have the same biased view of me that I had towards myself. So, he kept pushing me to try to be kind to myself. I remember telling him about a video I saw where a woman would say good morning to herself every morning as a way to learn to love herself, I told him I wanted to try that, and he got up and left. He just left me sitting on the couch. He told me to say “good morning, Kate” to myself, and really, I’m glad he left the room for me to do it because it was humiliating enough with just myself as the witness. Needless to say, that idea of self-kindness didn’t work out for me. But my therapist kept pushing me, he tried to find out what my interests were and he would try to get me to come up with ways that I could use my interests as some form of kindness to myself. Sitting outside while reading a book, going for a walk, listening to happy music. Honestly, when I think back on it, it must have been like trying to wrestle candy from a toddler for him.
Hate was determined to hold me captive, though. It didn’t want to loosen its grip on me at all. It wanted to keep me convinced that I was a bad person who should be dead. This voice almost won so many times. It had me convinced that I should throw myself in front of a bus. It had me hate myself so much that I took a container of pills to my bed wishing I could overdose and die. I felt like I’d never been able to get away from it, that I’d never been able to be kind to myself or to do anything caring for myself. Why bother? What was the point? But slowly, slowly, I began to learn. Self-care and self-kindness didn’t have to be complex, it could be something so simple, like taking five minutes out of my day to sit and enjoy a coffee. The first time I feel like I truly practiced self-care was simply spending a day in my dressing gown, rainbow toe socks, and unicorn slippers, and I was so excited by this that I even showed a picture of it to my poor therapist. He was kind enough to seem excited about it and seemed to be really happy that I’d come up with a way to practice self-care.
Of course, I could never get away from it. I felt like Hate and Depression were always waiting there in the dark, like any time I thought I was getting better, they would both roar at me that I’m not. It could be so de-motivating. But then I joined Reddit and allowed myself to meet people and make friends. I allowed myself to be open with people. And then I started painting my nails each week. I wouldn’t be so hard on myself when I was cleaning, I’d allow myself to take breaks. I listened to happy music instead of sad music. It happened so gradually that I barely even noticed the shift in my mentality, that I was starting to be able to cope with my emotions better. If I was having a bad day, I would let myself stay in my dressing gown all day, and I wouldn’t yell at myself over it. I would tell myself, I am having a bad day, I deserve to rest. And shocker, it actually worked, I didn’t hate myself for spending all day in my dressing gown. I didn’t yell at myself for being lazy. Once I began to grow more accepting of myself and allow myself to actually be kind and care for myself, I noticed the voice in my head began to quieten; and the days where it would get loud, I was better able to manage it. A few days ago I had a particularly rough therapy session from reliving the trauma, and I felt absolutely rubbish. I’d completely lost control of my body and my therapist had to talk me through gaining control of each of my limbs. I felt drained. To make matters worse, I had to catch the bus home, and my goodness do I hate catching the bus. All I wanted to do was go home and hide in my bed. It’s what I’d done in the past when I’d left my therapy sessions feeling like this, normally I’d try and nap the pain away. But this time, I forced myself to get off the bus to the shops, I forced myself to go to the florist and look through all the plants and candles. Already I was feeling a little victorious, I was doing something I hadn’t wanted to do because I knew it would help me. I’d been in the market for a plant after learning how soothing I found them. I wanted one for my desk. So I bought a cute little-grafted cactus and a lemon scented candle that smelled heavenly and then walked home. I felt amazing. I felt victorious. I felt courageous.
It is so hard to allow yourself to be kind and caring towards yourself, but I have truly learned the value of self-care and self-kindness. It’s been a long process, but finally, I’m starting to gain a more positive outlook on life, and on myself. My advice for self-care would be to start small and build your way up. I’ve still got such a long way to go, but I’m learning friends.
What are some ways that you practice self-care and self-kindness for yourself?