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Woman Points Out What 'Mentally-Well People' Don't Always Understand About Self-Care

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It seems like everyone is talking about self-care these days, and on the surface that isn’t a bad thing. Of course, everyone deserves to practice self-care, and the phrase means different things to different people. But when you live with a mental illness, self-care can be a mean of survival, and it’s frustrating when part of your treatment plan seems to have been co-opted by the mainstream.

Author Jenny Trout expressed this frustration is a series of tweets on Sunday about what self-care really looks like when you live with a mental illness, and how it’s not always what “mentally-well” people think it is.

“A few short years of twee self-care tips has convinced mentally-well people everywhere that depression is something you can just wash off in a bubble bath,” she wrote. “Tip: if a mentally ill person is talking about self-care, they probably mean brushing their teeth or making a sandwich.”

Of course, Trout tweeted, there’s nothing wrong with bubble baths if they do help your mental health, but this leads some to believe people with depression simply need to practice their version of self-care to stop being depressed — and that’s just not the case. Trout wrote, “If a bubblebath is your mental health self-care, there’s nothing wrong with that and I’ve yet to say that there is. My issue is with the perception that self-care is always some sumptuous, instagram-worthy moment of beautifully staged decadence.”

In a piece about how the term “self-care” is overused, Mighty contributor Mawiyah Patten also challenged the idea the self-care equals pampering:

What social workers and other people don’t often tell you is that self-care can be completely terrible. Self-care includes a lot of adult-ing, and activities you want to put off indefinitely. Self-care sometimes means making tough decisions which you fear others will judge. Self-care involves asking for help; it involves vulnerability; it involves being painfully honest with yourself and your loved ones about what you need.

In response to Trout’s tweets, people shared what self-care meant to them. Their answers ranged from getting dressed in the morning to drinking water.

What does self-care mean to you? If you’re looking for inspiration, here’s a list of 101 self-care ideas when life seems like too much.

Getty image via mh2502

Originally published: December 4, 2017
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