Day 1/28: An introduction to my 4-week challenge to love myself

I confronted disordered eating at 15 but then became depressed by 16. By 19 I was convinced I was crazy; only at 23 was the depression and anxiety disorder diagnosed. Unable to function and thinking of suicide, they finally got treated at 24. By then the troubled beliefs about myself and the world around me ran deep into my core and I was confused about my own identity in this world. Treatment (cognitive behavioural therapy) has helped no end. I can get out of bed, I can spend a whole day without crying, I can do some work. Now, my psychologist would probably rate the anxiety as mild to moderate and the depression as mild.

I’m still finding things intolerably tough. Life and its demands haven’t slowed down. I’m trying to finish up my PhD; I’ve moved in with my boyfriend, to America from England; I remain confused about my self-identity. I know what I should be. This is what I try and fail to be. I get very stressed and, whilst I now deal with this better, stress often become chaos. For me, chaos is a loss of self-regulation: I can’t think straight, my judgement is fogged by impulses and thoughts bombard me before I even see them coming to confirm how awful I truly am. I still hate myself. I still can’t tolerate myself, nor distress. Then I still fall into bad habits- I become avoidant, argumentative and try to run away. I am now better but still not good enough. I am harshly self-critical.

A few days ago I read a post on medium (above) and, to be cliche, it inspired me. There’s so much that I know and understand about mental illness yet it’s useless as I’m overwhelmed by it and struggle to practise it in my everyday life. The contrast between myself and the self-devotion and self-love in the story struck me. Love is a concise description of everything I know I need and yet the furthest thing from the way I still think, feel and behave. Apparently, it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so I want to commit to exploring self-love and seeing how I might make better habits and break some bad ones over 21 days and another 7 just to be sure! I’m not sure I’ve ever managed to stick to a plan for this long so it’s going to be a challenge. Here’s to accepting it!