Pain comes in many shapes and sizes. Empathy is one of the most difficult emotions to feel when someone hurts you or does not understand what you are going through. But we all go through something. Mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, OCD, personality disorders and PTSD is a life-long battle that takes dedication, and the ability to persevere in the worst of times…the moments we feel there is no hope in feeling better.
The first step is awareness followed by acceptance, willingness, and finally self love. Loving yourself is a truly magical existence, but is never an easy path. There may be months when you see yourself as a worthy, yet flawed human being when judgement and hatred rears its ugly head and you are stuck in bed with the curtains drawn. It is the ability to get back up, to treat yourself well, self soothe, and build mastery that the real learning begins. Mental illness is attached to a heap of stigma, and can prevent someone who is suffering and needs help to seek it. What will your friends think? How will you tell your parents, especially if you need help with therapy or finding a formal diagnoses? How can you find the inner strength to ask for what you need? To say no? To stand up for yourself?
I cannot stress enough how important self-love is to develop. It is a lifelong practice, but cannot be found or felt through any person, place or thing. It cannot be numbed and then called progress when you no longer feel pain. It is feeling the uncomfortable emotion head on, maybe for hours, days or months with support. I am scared. You are scared. We are all scared no matter how stoic we feel we need to be. We all deserve to be loved. The best gift we can give is to love exactly who we are at this very moment in time.