7 years ago my health deteriorated so badly I became bedbound. I was physically and mentally broken, and I felt like I had no reason to live. I could never have imagined that such a catastrophic event could actually (eventually) bring about positive events and changes.
Becoming so physically ill has forced me to reevaluate my life, but it has also forced me to confront my demons. It has forced me to face my mental ill-health head on.
It hasn’t been easy – it still isn’t. But I know I have come so far. I have learnt about self compassion and forgiveness, and I’m slowly putting into practice the many lessons this has taught me.
I’m finally at a place where I don’t beat myself up over every little mistake. I no longer blame myself for being so ill, and I’m finally starting to love the person I am, in spite of my many flaws. And this would not have happened if I hadn’t been forced to confront my anxiety, depression and self hatred.
I know I have made a lot of progress, but it’s an ongoing process. With this in mind, I have written myself reminders, self-care promises, if you like. I will try to respect these, even on my bad days. Maybe you could try these too or write your own.
1. For the times when my body and mind actually allow me to rest;
I will comply without beating myself up about all the things I “should” be doing. Whether this rest period lasts for hours, days or weeks, I will listen to my body and respect it’s need to restore and repair.
2. For the times when my mind is so active I cannot rest;
Rather than berate the 3 year old child in my mind constantly asking “but Why?”, I will thank my foggy brain for still functioning, and make the most of the rare moments of clarity.
3. For the times when I’m overwhelmed by the need to cry;
Instead of chastising myself for being over-emotional or over-sensitive, I will allow myself to cry and feel these emotions, and acknowledge these feelings are what make me a compassionate human being.
4. For the times when my pain levels are high;
When every minute feels like a day, and every breath is an arduous task. I will remind myself; this moment will pass, I will survive, and things will get better.
5. For the times when I fuck up;
Instead of beating myself up and replaying every mistake in minute detail, I will practice self-compassion and forgiveness, and remind myself I am only human.
6. For the times when I am alone;
Instead of fearing my own company because I’m forced to listen to the voices inside my head, I will embrace this time of reflection and use it as a opportunity for growth.
7. For the times when I look in the mirror and I don’t like what I see;
Instead of criticising every lump, bump, wrinkle and grey hair, I will practice being kind to myself, and acknowledge I’m beautiful, no matter how hard this message is to believe. Every line, wrinkle and scar represents a step in my journey through life.
8. For the times when I’m full of anger and everything irritates me;
Instead of calling myself a bitch, I will acknowledge that all my feelings are valid. Instead of turning this anger and hatred on myself, I will remind myself I have been through so much, and negative emotions are just a “human” reaction to the stress and discomfort I experience. These emotions do not make me a bad person, and I will try to forgive myself.
9. For the times when it feels like my body is betraying me;
Instead of focusing on the many ways my “broken” body has let me down, I will thank it for keeping me alive through everything I have thrown at it. I will focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t, and remember how far I’ve come.
10. For the days when I feel like a failure and I’m consumed by self-loathing;
I will do whatever it takes to survive the day. I will fight to see the many positive characteristics that I possess, and give myself the love, understanding and compassion I so freely give to others.
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