I do not love myself. This may seem like a bizarre statement to hear from anyone. Very often in society, we hear that self-esteem is very important. You hear that confidence makes you more attractive, it is very important in job interviews, it will also help you make friends. There is even a Justin Bieber song on the topic. Having a positive self-image is something that society values. However as someone who experiences depression and anxiety, this is very challenging.
In order for someone to be confident in themselves, they must have some amount of self-value, that is, they must be able to recognize the parts about them that make them unique, special, and wanted. With my type of depression, this is absent. I don’t look in the mirror and see someone I like, much less love. I don’t see in me someone worthy of attention, happiness, or even love. I don’t see someone who is independent. I see unstable and lost. I don’t see my capabilities but rather my inabilities.
My self image has two aspects, physical and mental. I don’t see my body as anything special. I am not overweight, but rather very much underweight. This is through no action of my own. It is a thing in my family that we have very active metabolisms. I remember in elementary school, the other students would make comments regarding my size and I would try to eat as much junk as I could in hopes of gaining a pound or two so I could look like the other students. That did nothing but make me feel sick and worse about myself. I didn’t see that my body was capable of staying relatively healthy despite abuse but rather, I saw that my body was incapable of doing what I wanted to, incapable of looking “normal.” That was back then, nowadays I am grateful for the fact that I am slim. But I still struggle with the idea that I am smaller than almost everyone I know.
The mental aspect of my self-image is where I tend to focus the most. I am constantly wondering why my mind is so different from the “normal” minds. My mind is constantly worried about what the implications of my actions are. What will other people think about them? Will they hate me for it? Is this considered normal? What if they hate it? It is this constant stream of self-beratement that contributes to my declining self-image. I do not look at myself through the scope of my own judgement but rather, through the scope of everyone else. I do not see any value in me. I place my value in what I perceive others to think of me. That is an issue because obviously people do not always have entirely positive things to say, nor is it their responsibility to. When negativities are brought to light, I believe that everyone thinks the same of me. So to avoid that I try to be who people want me to be.This becomes difficult because instead of people getting to know me for who I am, they often get to know the me that I think they want to know.
This is not to say that I am devoid of any personality. What this means is that my personality is hidden behind whatever modifiers or masks that I think fit at the time. I do not show people the real me right away. From what I have noticed, it seems something like this; I meet them and my mask it on securely. If all goes well, the mask is loosened. If all continues well, the mask lowers, the real me is not revealed until I think I can trust the person I am speaking to. On the other side of the spectrum, if anything seems to go wrong, I put the mask back on and attempt to be who the other person seems to like.
In relationships this proves to be especially different. Not only do I struggle with the dichotomy of who I really am versus who I want to be. But I constantly prepare myself for failure. Again this comes to not seeing any value in myself. My worries aren’t that I will be rejected. I worry primarily about if I am accepted. What will I do then? How do I behave now? I tell myself that eventually they will see that I am not someone who will enrich their life but rather a liability. This has led to me placing myself in relationships that are not healthy. This allows me to be easily manipulated and brought down. I do not and cannot tell myself that they are wrong and sincerely believe it. I have often heard the idea that you cannot truly love someone until you have learned to love yourself. This is devastating to me because I know that I have love for other people. I know that in me, there is a feeling of affection, devotion, and sentiment. But how do I know that it is love? What if I am incapable of loving another? Does this make me unlovable?
I do not love myself. With flaws abounding, and insecurities prodding, I struggle to see a me that I approve of. I struggle to see my own value independent of what others think. My mental dialogue is bombarded with the idea that I need to fix myself. So while I find the cliche of “love yourself” sweet and sometimes inspiring, I don’t see it as useful. It’s like telling someone with an illness to get better. That isn’t how it works. And while it is well intentioned, there is much more to it.