Self-Love

The Cauldron Blog Project listed different types of love for February, so I’m going to talk about self-love.  I know it is March, but I’m plodding along.  Warning: The article below may contain triggers for people with self-harm or suicidal issues.

Self-love is sometimes difficult for me, as I am sure it is with most people.  Dealing with bipolar disorder, my feelings have not always matched up with where I wanted them.  I have a history of severe depressions, suicidal ideations, and actions.  I am on a regimen of daily medication and periodic talk therapy.  I’m not where I want to be in my education or career.  My anxieties in dealing with people can sometimes simple tasks seem like monumental mountains to climb.  I have had and continue to have so many advantages in my life that I feel inept in my inability to fully utilize them.

March and April tend to be rough months for my moods and depression.  Even though I don’t always feel self-love, I am trying to be better about acting it out through self-care.  Taking my medications and brushing my teeth are such acts.  I try to remind myself of my accomplishments.  Small steps forward are still progression.  Maintaining is still better than steps backward.  Steps backward can always be countered by steps forward.

The interesting thing about bipolar disorder is the extreme self-adoration that can come when I’m hypomanic.  Feeling like I can take on the world and succeed in everything is exhilarating..  Unchecked, this turns into complete narcissism.  When you get just a taste it is invigorating.  Tasting supreme confidence coupled with clarity of thought causes me to believe that there is a middle ground that I can achieve.  Depression and despair might be more much common to me, but even the dulled memory of ecstasy reminds me of what it possible.

I’m not advising leaving mental illness untreated.  I wouldn’t be able to function as well as I do without my medication and therapy.  I have tried tasting the ecstasy, and it only leads to despair.  The echo that I have value, though, is worth retaining.

I do believe that loving yourself helps others to love you better.  I also think that loving others unconditionally helps you to love yourself.  Focusing on something outside of yourself helps you to direct some of that love towards yourself.  It softens your heart.  I don’t advocate always putting yourself last.  That breeds resentment.  Blind love is not the same as unconditional love.  If you feel unconditional love, some of it leaks back to yourself.  This is much easier said than done, especially for those of us whose brain chemistry works against us.  Even one success is worth the effort.

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