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Be Gentle on Yourself

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Years ago I saw a therapist once a week to get to the root of my depression. I decided to forego the psychiatrist and medication and see a psychologist instead. I didn’t want the cushion of the meds; I wanted to get to the bottom of my issues.

Every week as she walked me out of her office after our session, she’d say to me, “Be gentle on yourself.” At the time, I thought that was contrived. I’d just spent an hour ripping myself open and pouring my guts out all over the floor, and I resented the sentiment.

Hindsight is 20/20, however, and I now say the same thing to others. One reason why is because I better understand exactly what she meant. She didn’t just mean be gentle on myself as in, “Don’t go and jump in front of a bus,” she also meant realize that what you’re going through is difficult.

If there is any time a person should give her or himself a break, it’s in the midst of a mental illness battle. It’s difficult to articulate what goes through one’s mind as one struggles to try to figure out what’s going on inside one’s mind. There is so much confusion when you’re fighting your own brain.

My therapist’s sentiment went beyond a concern for my physical well-being. I was mentally tired, too, and she helped me to see that through those four simple words. She gave me permission to allow myself to feel how I felt, and that is so important to somebody who suffers from mental illness.

I’ve said it, and I’ve heard it: “I’m so stupid,” “I’m too weak,” “I need to get over it,” “I’m overreacting . . .” I won’t go on, because I can’t. This type of verbiage, whether being spoken to oneself or spoken to another is so harmful. It can derail a depressed person immediately.

In my humble opinion, few things are worse than minimizing and/or criticizing yourself or someone else for the emotional and physical reaction that is a part of depression and other mental illnesses. No one should ever be made to feel horrible because they feel horrible.

This is why I now say to others who are struggling the very words that I had come to resent so long ago. Nothing is inane when you’re in the midst of your own battle, and I believe that you should understand and accept all of these emotions so you can then learn how to manage them.

Yes, you feel horrible, helpless, and even stupid sometimes. But you know what? There are reasons why you feel that way, so don’t beat yourself up. Don’t feel bad about feeling bad. Realize that what you’re going through is difficult, and enlist the help you need to get you out of this dark tunnel.

In other words: Be gentle on yourself.

 

Please note: This blog post is written from my personal experience and expresses my opinions only. I am not a medical professional, nor am I qualified to dispense medical advice. If you believe you are suffering from depression, please contact your health care professional or the emergency mental health care hotline in your area immediately.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Sharon Platz All Rights Reserved

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