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What Happened When I Stopped Rolling My Eyes at Self-Care

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As someone with anxiety and depression, people are constantly giving me advice about how to cure the disorders that so drastically affect my life. These people typically have good intentions, but are misguided. They tell me to go on walks, listen to classical music, talk to people, travel, etc. All of these things are great, but none are a cure. However, that doesn’t mean we should discredit them altogether. I remember rolling my eyes the second I was out of sight of someone who told me to do more yoga to help my depression and anxiety. I thought about how they must not understand, how something that simple could never help.

After getting over myself and deciding to look at life with an open mind, I tried yoga. And hey! It did help me feel a bit more calm better about myself, since it was a great source of exercise. After this experience, I decided to truly work on my self-care routine and pile positive things into my life. I didn’t worry about curing myself, just about finding new hobbies that could bring me some of the joy I have lost along my mental illness journey.

In my search for a hobby that would make me feel more productive, more meaningful and more joyful, I thought back to my childhood. What did I enjoy doing the most? What made me feel good about myself?

Finally, I thought back to all of the writing contests and poetry slams I entered in my youth. I remember how creative it made me feel, but felt it would be difficult to cultivate that reward again as a young adult. Trying to stick to my new open-minded attitude, I tried it anyway.

A week later, I submitted my first article to The Mighty.

Now, as well as writing here, I operate my own poetry blog. I write under a pseudonym so I feel safe publishing whatever I feel like writing that day, without fear of judgment.

Being creative again and sharing my passion with people online has had an immensely positive effect on my struggle with depression. Creating something, whether it is poetry, music, art, dance, or anything else, gives you a profound sense of pride and accomplishment. It gives you a sense of meaning, which is exactly what I needed when I am in the depths of a depressive episode.

I understand that for some struggling with severe mental illnesses, finding the motivation to create something is difficult, and can even feel impossible at times. However, if you are able, I highly recommend exercising your creative muscle. Doing so has given me back so much joy that depression stole from me, and I even get to give others something they can relate to as well. So go ahead, practice some creative self-care. If you stick with it, you might be surprised at how it affects you.

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Thinkstock photo via Zoonar RF

Originally published: July 24, 2017
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