How I Learned To Love Myself Despite My Depression

I watched as tears poured down my boyfriend’s face. During an argument, I had told him for the first time in our relationship, the awful words “I hate you.” As I absorbed the pain my words caused, I realized my own self-hatred buried deep inside. I could have kept hurting myself, but I couldn’t bear to see someone I love hurting. After some soul searching and apologies, I went to therapy for the first time in my life and was diagnosed with depression. This is my story of learning to love myself despite debilitating depression- the kind where you lay in bed all day long. Remember, everyone’s depression is unique, and these are in no ways alternatives to seeking treatment with a therapist or doctor, but these 10 tips helped me through depression.

See also: 10 reasons you should consider going to a therapist

1. I forgave myself for my brokenness 

Depression brings up many negative emotions and can make you do things that you regret. Self-forgiveness was vital for me in recovering. I learned to let go of the past and realize that my actions were a result of my depression. My past actions didn’t say anything about me being a “good” or “bad” person; they merely reflected the nature of mental illness. 

2. I no longer isolate myself

During my worst bouts of depression, I spoke to no one. I laid in bed nearly all day full of self-pity, lacking the energy to do anything. My therapist was the first person I was able to talk honestly with about my emotions. By learning to be honest about mental illness with others, I was able to find social support from in my life. I opened up on social media about being in recovery, and many people sent me loving words and even shared their own experiences. When I had others to remind me that they cared for my well-being, I was more capable of seeing that I was worthy of love. 

 3. I connected with the emotion of love outside myself

During my recovery, I realized that I hadn’t really felt the raw emotion of love in some time. I wanted to rediscover the way it felt, so I started listening to music that expressed a love for people, life, or the universe. I started watching movies and documentaries about love and listening to touching stories about human kindness and generosity. By tapping into love and kindness outside myself, I was able to recognize that love was still there inside me. 

4. I got a haircut and discovered a new me

This one may seem silly, but it helped my self-confidence immensely. I hadn’t had the motivation to get a haircut for over a year. Letting go of those dry locks was liberating, and I felt sexy rocking my new look.

5. I found a job that actually fulfilled me

With the help of a therapist, I was able to find a job that felt in alignment with my sense of purpose in life. Being broke, without a job and depressed was a cycle of suffering that I was lucky to escape. Thankfully, I had social support to help me overcome obstacles.

See also: 7 things I did that improved my mental health

6. I spent time in nature and appreciated what I have around me

I am lucky to live near a wildlife conservation area. Spending time there around the butterflies, flowers, and trees gave my mind permission to rest. I find that my self-loathing can cease for a bit as a stare in awe at the flowers, insects, and the wind in the trees.

7. I slowly began to do what I love again

I love gardening. But during my depressive episode, I let every last tomato and carrot die. With the help of my therapist, I was able to identify the things that bring me pleasure and joy. Slowly, I started bringing them back into my life. Allowing myself to spend time doing the things I love brought joy and purpose back into my life. I was able to wake up in the morning with a desire to enjoy my time.

8. I simply reminded myself “I love you”

When I wake up in the morning, I take deep breaths into my stomach and tell myself “I love you Lorin”. With mindfulness, I feel all the sensations in my body. At first, this was really difficult and felt silly. I didn’t believe it one bit, but after many weeks it began to feel genuine.

9. I realized the importance of laughter

A full belly laugh that leaves you crying is so healing. Slowly, I learned to stop taking myself seriously around people and allow myself to be silly. I also gave myself permission to chill out and watch a comedy.

10. I practice daily to get better at loving myself

To be honest, I am still learning to love all the parts of myself. The truth is that self-love is a skill that must be strengthened daily. I still have intrusive self-loathing thoughts, and that is okay- I forgive myself. I am not perfect and neither is anyone else. Some days are more difficult than others, but I am learning to know and love myself day by day.

Written by: Lorin Martin

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