One of the hardest things to learn — it most certainly feels like an acquired skill that takes time to acquire and implement — through therapy so far has been achieving radical acceptance of myself and being kind to myself.
I like to think I’m a kind and empathetic person for others, but when it came to myself? Whether it is the little things or the big things, when I was in the worst depths of my depression, I was the most brutal person to myself. Because when I’m depressed, I see very little value in myself in relation to others, in relation to my place in the world and in relation to myself as constituted. That’s the fertile ground in which suicidal ideation manifest. As such, I’m the person best (worst?) equipped to belittle myself.
If I can’t do a simple task: You’re pathetic. You can’t even do this. How are you going to be able to do X, Y and Z?
If I can’t do a big task: See, this just confirms that your imposter syndrome is legitimate.
If it’s a day that ends in “y”: You’re worthless and the world would be better off without your burden of a self taking up space.
That sort of constant negativity is always present when in a depressed, sinking mood and that sinking spiral only exacerbates the negativity; it builds upon each negative thought until you’ve created a pyramid of pain: Oh, you can’t fix this doorknob? You’re inept and that’s why your relationship failed.” It escalates exactly like that. It seems absurd, right? But it’s hard to know or understand that when you’re within it.
Yesterday, I was feeling the “grr Mondays” and just blargh in general. For whatever reason, I was exhausted and couldn’t get the brain fog to abate. I took two naps! And because of that, I was being hard on myself. “Why are you like this?” sort of questioning.
But I stopped myself and reminded myself: Be kind and take appraisal of what is going on today.
The latter part is particularly an important follow-through for being kind to yourself. Find the evidence that contradicts the negativity. The evidence I found: I’d gotten through my work emails, organized press release stories and opinion pieces for the Tuesday paper, scheduled social media posts, called back an individual about a story and I wrote three originally reported stories. After my official job, I then did three hours worth of a gig job (Amazon Flex; maybe I’ll write about that eventually).
That’s a darn good Monday, I’d say! But my brain was in that place of, “What a wasted day, you loser.” I simply had to remind my brain that it was wrong, present my case like a mental prosecutor and recalibrate from there.
Once I did that, the rest of the day got a lot better mentally-speaking and I felt better. Sometimes, we just have to remember to be kind to ourselves. Actively. It takes work! It takes actively engaging in being nice to ourselves to combat those negative, spiraling thoughts.
Doing that worked for me yesterday and I hope doing that can work for you as well when you find yourself in that negative headspace.