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The Only Challenge I Set Myself During COVID-19: Self-Love

Editor's Note

If you’re struggling with self-judgment, check out The Mighty’s No Shame group. It’s a safe space to share how you’re feeling with other people who get it.

To be at war with yourself is a war you cannot win. It’s a war I decided I don’t want to fight anymore.

I’ve struggled with emotional dysregulation for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of the difficulties I had producing and responding to the most simple of emotions. As you can imagine, this comes with a lot of frustration — and ultimately, self-hate.

Being young in a society that hadn’t yet accepted mental illness, it became toxic to simply live my life. With that came multiple hospital admissions, a whole bunch of doctors and a load of medications.

Fast forward seven years: I have a treatment plan, the correct diagnosis (bipolar II) and the perfect support system. Yet I still am not quite at a point of self-acceptance.

And that’s where the current pandemic has almost been a blessing for me. Having close family working as nurses on COVID-19 wards naturally triggered some anxiety — but ultimately the feeling of a united nation has just sat with me so well. Being someone who struggles with mental illness so harshly, I knew this could either break me — or be the perfect opportunity to grow and look after myself. I know people who are rethinking their entire life choices, but somehow, I’ve found a way to just appreciate where I am. So in these past couple of weeks, this is what I’ve picked up:

1. When people don’t check up on you, it’s not because they don’t care about you.

It’s controversial, but being sick can make you pretty self absorbed (guilty). I’ve spent so long being a person who won’t text first, or assumes if someone wants to speak to you, they’ll reach out. In my darker days, I lost a lot of people from that.

When people don’t check up on you, it’s not because they don’t care. Usually, it’s because they trust you’re doing good. Having the ability to tell people when you’re not OK is key to looking after yourself. Being able to break down that barrier, helps them to help you.

Ultimately, you are important to people. But you have you to be important to yourself to be able to feel that.

2. Keep track of your good habits.

It is so easy to notice what you haven’t done, pushing aside everything you’ve accomplished. You have to notice the small positives you’ve done, to keep yourself sane. Especially in a time like now, when what you can achieve is limited, noticing the little achievements is so important.

From completing a university assignment, going for a run or cooking a meal from scratch — to just simply waking up. Appreciating the little things just boosts your self-positivity a little bit more.

You don’t have to do everything, all of the time.

3. Stop allowing yourself to be treated like you’re damaged goods.

Being a little bit broken doesn’t make you less entitled to be treated correctly.

Battling mental illness, for the longest time, made me feel like the discounted pack of candy on a supermarket shelf because some are missing.

A human brain can not be compared to an inanimate object; it’s so much more complex than that. Maybe something is missing, or maybe everything was just put together in a different order. Regardless, you’re not damaged goods — and more importantly, you do not deserve to be discounted.

Ultimately, self-love is so much more than doing a face mask on a Friday night.

It’s not always beautiful, and it can be messy. But loving myself is the best thing I ever decided to do.

Follow this journey

Photo by Jackson Schaal on Unsplash

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