About the Aware Blog. Each month we will post an article on a range of topics relating in some way to Depression. A blog post may be the author’s personal experience, a reaction to public events, or views on how better we can support ourselves and others who experience depression or related mood disorders. Each of our posts will be from an individual viewpoint, this means that some blog posts may not reflect official Aware policy.
Treat yourself to something nice – you deserve it.
When was the last time you treated yourself to something nice? If you experience depression you’ll probably have to go way back to find such a moment. As someone who has spent many years battling with the darkness depression brings I can understand how hard it can be to find the motivation to give yourself a little treat, mainly because when in that place it’s hard to see that you deserve something nice. I can tell you now that you do, and will explain the importance of being nice to yourself.
As I said, for years I lived with depression, or should I say existed with it, as every day seemed to be a battle just to survive. Getting up in the mornings was a real struggle, and once up I was met with the everyday challenges which at times filled me with dread. I wasn’t in a happy place. I remember a friend advising me to do something nice for myself every so often, and while I could understand where he was coming from, I could only see it as pointless.
The thought of giving myself a treat seemed like a foreign and selfish thing to be doing. Who was I to be doing something nice for myself when I had so many problems to deal with? It seemed too trivial. Eventually I’d convince myself that it was a pointless exercise and needless to say nothing changed in my life. After a bit of persistence from my friend I did promise that I would do something nice, but only after I got myself better.
However getting better seemed impossible and this clause I attached to doing something nice was really just an excuse for me not to do anything. I felt I didn’t deserve it, and at the time having been depressed for so long I had no idea what it was that I’d like to do. Nothing excited me anymore, I had learned that a state of numbness was best for me, with the attitude that if I didn’t try then at least I couldn’t fail. Even going out into society scared me, as I assumed people would be looking at me and judging me, seeing me for the failure I was. I really wanted not to care what people thought of me, yet it was something I couldn’t get my mind away from.
The problem was that I was so emotionally caught up in my state, that I couldn’t see things in perspective. It was only after a lot of research that I started to understand the importance of being nice to oneself. When depressed it is natural for your self-esteem to plummet, and as a result your self-image to deteriorate. I realised that my self-hatred was only harming me even though I believed at the time that it was appropriate. So I began to try and change this, to try and see myself in a positive light. I knew it would be hard, but nothing compared with the loneliness and despair of my situation at the time.
I decided to start working on improving my self-esteem with the first step being to treat myself nicely. It was amazing how such a simple action could change how I felt about myself. Obviously it was challenging at first. I had moments where I really had to push myself and still had a lot more to learn on my journey to recovery, but the more I practiced it the better I began to feel. Problems suddenly became easier to deal with and I even began to worry less about what others thought of me. It was a reversal of the vicious cycle I had been in for years. And it started with that one simple step.
The premise for this is that our reality is made up of our own unique perception of what is around us, and when we’re feeling bad we tend to notice all the negativity out there, while at the same time dismissing any positives. The mind can be blinkered like this. So in order to start seeing the positives life has to offer it is vital to see oneself in a good light. This can take time to turn around, but as they say every journey starts with a single step, no matter how small it is.
From experience I can tell you that the benefit of treating yourself to nice things is twofold. Firstly it will make you feel happier. This is very important in everyone’s life. Secondly, in the long term, by repeating this small step you are showing yourself that you deserve nice things, and that little action of self appreciation is very important when it comes to building up your self-image and self-esteem again.
This treat doesn’t need to be anything big. It can be healthy and positive like doing something creative which challenges your mind and gives you a feeling of accomplishment, or as simple as meeting a friend for a coffee and a chat, taking your dog for a walk, or going to the cinema to see the latest blockbuster. It can be anything you choose to do, and should give you at least a brief moment of feeling happier inside. What’s important is that whatever experience you decide to undertake is your choice, as it is partly about taking back control of your life.
So where to start? I’d recommend putting some time aside over the next few days where you can do something just for you. Ask yourself what things interest or excite you in life, things that you used to love doing but maybe because of circumstances you have may have forgotten about. Start trying to dream again and then pick one thing and do it.
Best of luck!