This post is about learning how to get the balance of being selfish and selfless right when you are living with depression. And before we get started this will be quite a soppy post with lots of feel good vibes, so just go with it. You have been warned!
As young children we were always taught to share and constantly put others before yourself and that being selfish is wrong. But a couple of years ago, mid quarter life hormone filled depressive outburst, a friend once told me that its actually okay to be selfish when I need to be, and that I need to look after myself first, and that I cannot pour from an empty cup. And that changed my outlook completely. I have learnt that Self love when you are battling with depression is so so important. So take time to nourish your body and soul. Don’t worry so much about letting down work or social commitments, it is okay to care about yourself the most, you only get one shot at this life business-so you may as well enjoy it and put your mental health first…social expectations from society, second.
So try to go and do the things that make you the most happy with the people who make you feel good. Everybody needs to look after themselves as too often we are so hard on ourselves when it comes to mental illnesses. We feel as though we get given these burdens in our life for no reason and that it is totally unfair. We feel angry and hurt and still, we try to look out for others and always be that person they need. But remember, YOU are still that person, and YOU need to look after yourself too. You cannot always look out for others and just forget about yourself. You need to love yourself, do things you enjoy. Be utterly selfish in your happiness. When you are having a depressive episode and manage to find some sort of sunshine in your day, don’t feel as though you always have to give it to others. Just roll around in the complete and utter bliss of happiness that you have found in that moment and enjoy it…it is yours.
Now, on the flip side, I’m not trying to say that you should fully live a “ME, ME ,ME” life, only learn that not every moment of your life you owe to other people. So look after yourself when you need to, and always take the time out from the world and other people to nourish yourself, your mind and body.
So, being selfless. This is the good karma portion of the post. Try to do small things everyday that you know will improve a strangers day. Because you never know what other people are going through and so as soon as you are having a good day and feel content and happy, and you feel as though you have some to share, go and smile at the person in the supermarket, talk about that cute puppy waiting with that old woman at the bus stop, maybe even complement someone at a checkout. Why? Because you taking 5 seconds out of your day and being slightly cringe but lovely to a stranger could potentially improve their whole week. Personally, as someone who has suffered with depression for many years, I understand all too well that words hurt, and so by making an effort to say nice things to others when I could so easily could put my sadness and anger onto them, makes me feel proud and makes me feel happy, knowing I have made someone else smile. I know right, yuck 😉
Moral of the story?
Small steps friends, look after yourself first, then give what you can afford to share to others. Think before you speak, you may not deserve your depression and anger, but neither does that person that accidentally just bumped into you and seems genuinely sorry. There is an African proverb that goes
“The axe forgets what the tree remembers”. So do not put your hurt onto others or say something permanently hurtful just because you are temporarily upset. Be kind always, to yourself, then others.
Small acts change the world.