In an age of misery and extreme consumption, we’re taught to hate ourselves — to hate our bodies, to question our own talents, to always desire to have what THEY have. It doesn’t matter who “they” is. We want what we don’t have while taking for granted all that we DO have.
It’s easy for me to love myself when I’m feeling well, mentally and emotionally. It’s easy to see my #strengths, my accomplishments, and my #dreams for the future. I think very highly of myself. I have self-confidence and self-assurance. I don’t understand why no one wants to date me. I think I’m the bees knees. I love my body and all her flaws. I love how insightful and introspective I am. I can name over 20 qualities I love about myself.
I set my mind to the most difficult of tasks, and I meet my goals. I strive to be a better me. And I’m proud of who I am — an activist, an aunt, a daughter, a friend, a colleague and a writer, editor, photographer and a digital communications coordinator.
Then, #Depression hits. The other side of #Hypomania. My highs are very mild, but my lows — they’re excruciating. I lose sight of all my plans for the future. I compare my journey to the journey of others, and I feel so behind.
I feel ugly, and I notice the smallest flaws in my appearance and character. I blame myself for being #alone. I tell myself that I deserve solitude, and I should have been a better partner. I stop practicing self-love, and start practicing self-loathing.
I’ve studied gender for years, and I’m well aware of the tropes that society places on women, especially women of color (of which, I am not). Practicing self-love in a time of such uncertainty, a timing of rising hatred and bigotry, I beg of you: love yourself. Be authentically you. And if you, like I, have #BipolarDisorder, know that the highs and lows will pass, but you will always be there — whether you see yourself or not.