Stop Telling Me to Love Myself

Stop Telling Me to Love Myself

Why mental health isn't all about "loving yourself"

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In the United States, there has been a growing movement among young people centered around mental health. And that's a good thing! It's important to spread awareness and to erase the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. However, this has also given rise to many who, without qualifications, give out advice such as "talk to your friends" or "love yourself, unapologetically!" Well-intentioned? Yes. Sufficient to actually help people suffering from mental health issues? Not really.

Yes, talk to your friends. But make sure to keep in mind that your friends are not professionals. Use them as ears that will listen to you, as reminders that you are loved, and as people to give you support. However, do not expect them to know the answers or to provide adequate therapeutic responses. In that manner, friends are a good resource.

I have more of a problem with the well-intentioned BS that is the statement "you just need to love yourself". Think about it. What does that even mean? You think I haven't tried that? Or wanted to do that?

See, it implies that you're choosing to have low self-esteem. It implies that you've decided against loving yourself, rather than it being the result of other conditions that need actual treatment by a licensed therapist. It's ignorant of the cause of the problem. Although being told to love yourself might make you feel better in the short term, in the long run, it's about as effective as putting a band-aid on a stab wound.

The most egregious example of this that I've seen is the phrase "love yourself or no one else will". It seems to imply that if you don't love yourself, that you're not worthy of love--which is a dangerously irresponsible message to spread. Everyone deserves to be loved, except for maybe Ted Cruz...I'm kidding, even the Zodiac Killer deserves to be loved.

If a friend comes to you saying that they're struggling, that they're depressed, or that they need help, don't just throw out some pseudo-psychiatry that you saw on Twitter or "RuPaul's Drag Race". Listen. Give support. Show your love. And, importantly, encourage him or her to seek professional help.

This brings me to my next point. We need to make therapy more accessible. This means more awareness, but also reform aimed at making therapy more affordable. Paired with the accompanying medications for certain mental health issues, these things can cost quite a bit, especially without good, affordable health insurance. Too many are suffering from mental health issues because of a lack of access to the tools necessary for healing.

Mental health is a complex thing. Your self-esteem cannot permanently rise because someone hit you with a simple "love yourself". The responsibility falls upon friends to not just listen, support, and comfort, but to encourage the use of professional help as well.

Let's keep this all in mind while we continue to spread awareness. Let's think about what we're actually saying. Let's ditch the pseudo-psychiatry in favor of, you know, actual psychiatry.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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If Your Shorts From Last Summer Don't Fit This Spring, Don't Panic Just Yet

Sometimes sucking it in doesn't even cut it.

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We've all been there — you put on a pair of shorts that fit you like a glove last year and they just don't fit the way you remembered. This feeling sucks, but there are plenty of solutions for when your favorite pieces can't quite fit over the love handles.

First off, there's nothing to be ashamed of! It's normal for people to pack on a few extra pounds during the cold months due to lack of outdoor activity, holidays, and overall laziness. Usually, people lose a little extra weight in the summer months by being outside and sweating and eating fresher and healthier foods. So who knows, by the time summer is in full swing, they may fit again!

The obvious answer would be to work out, but I understand that's not for everyone. For those who are looking into getting back into shape for bikini season, a good mix of cardio and lifting three to five days a week will help tone and slim that body down in no time! Make sure that if you start exercising, eat enough nutrients! Some people tend to think if they eat less and work out, it'll help you lose more weight, and yes this is true, but you'll also be losing muscle mass in the long run and this can be detrimental to your health. Getting sufficient nutrients is vital to making sure your body is functioning properly!

For those of you who don't necessarily want to do any formal exercise, eat healthier and go on walks! It's amazing what adding a walk into your day will do for your body! Not only will it help your heart health, but it will tone your legs and help shed some extra pounds. Eating healthy is also pivotal to getting rid of unwanted fat. Diet fads are definitely no way to go. It's not about eating less necessarily but eating what's good for you. Everyone's bodies are different and it will take some figuring out to find what works for you. There are plenty of yummy fruits and veggies in season in the summer, and there's plenty of opportunities to grill out and make some healthy options! Take advantage of this! Whether you're grilling low carb meats and fish or throwing on some veggies for a side dish, grilling is a great way to make healthy meals for you and your family!

For those of you who are fine with the little extra weight you've gained, buy new clothes! Picking out and trying on new clothes can be very fun, but also expensive. If it's not in the budget to head to your favorite retailer and pick out a new pair, head to a thrift store! There are plenty of second-hand options that are not only affordable and cute but environmentally sustainable as well! The fashion industry creates so much unnecessary waste year after year, and you can help cut down by buying second-hand.

With all of this being said, love your body! There are so many different shapes and sizes in the world, and not one person is the same as another, so be proud of what you look like! Whether you're a size XS or a size XXL, everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin. If you're not comfortable with what you look like and wish you could change it, do it! The great thing about our bodies is they're so easy to make changes to. Whatever the case, the weather is warming up and it's almost time to trade those sweats for some shorts and bathing suits!

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