Written by Hannah Blum, author of The Truth About Broken: The Unfixed Version of Self-Love
When you live with mental illness, loving yourself feels wrong. As someone diagnosed with bipolar, I understand this internal battle. We live in a society that tells us we are unlovable, inadequate, unworthy, and deranged individuals.
Enough is enough. It’s time we flip the script and start loving ourselves as we are, because we are amazing and beautiful humans.
The reason I wrote, The Truth About Broken: The Unfixed Version of Self-Love, is because there is a lack of positive reinforcement and empowerment in the mental illness community. It’s about loving the unfixed version of ourselves. Here are some tips and self-love exercises to help you get there!
Accept your mental illness, and it’s ‘realness.’
We continuously go back and forth between questioning whether or not mental illness is real. This is a BIG problem. People persuading us to believe that we can heal if we just change our mindset. We don’t need medication; we need more meditation. It contributes to the shame we feel. When I stopped questioning my diagnosis of bipolar, everything changed. I did the research and concluded that no matter what other people say, my condition is real. I do not sway in between. When we accept our mental illness, we are more likely to seek out treatment for it. We can finally start our self-love journey.
Research various studies and articles about mental illness. Part of self-love is respect. Demanding it from others as well as yourself. Start here, and read The Roots of Mental Illness.
Stop saying I’m sorry.
I’m sorry. Two words that people living with mental illness say too much. We feel the need to apologize for who we are. It’s impossible to love yourself if you are always apologizing for yourself. Apologies are necessary when you have done wrong, and living with mental illness is not wrong. Going through a depressive episode or feeling anxious is not wrong. When you stop apologizing for your mental illness, you open up space for you to embrace it.
Become your own best friend.
If your best friend came to you in tears, talking about how much they hated themselves, what would you say? Most likely, you would tell them how awesome they are. You would remind them of their beauty and comfort them by voicing why they should love themselves. However, when it comes to ourselves, we do the opposite. It’s time we treat ourselves like we treat our best friends. This means creating a relationship with yourself. When you start to go in a self-hate spiral, have a conversation with yourself as if you were speaking to your best friend. Calm yourself down and try to look at what you are feeling from a more rational perspective.
Connect with your beautiful community.
Peer support is key to self-love when you live with mental illness. It changes your life and the way you perceive yourself. Suddenly you are exposed to beautiful, empathetic, and kind people who live with mental illness. You feel empowered. Social media is a medium to connect with the mental health community without having to reveal your diagnosis. There are so many advocates online and on social media who share inspirational and informative content. Outside of media platforms, there are many volunteer opportunities that could use your help. Contact them and see how you can get involved. There are many resources to help you connect with your community.
Reflect on what you love about yourself.
Those of us living with mental illness focus on why we suck, because thats pretty much what society focuses on. Forget society, and what they think. Their burden does not have to be our burden.
Self-Love Exercise: Take out two sheets of paper. On one sheet write what you love about yourself, on the other sheet write what you don’t like about yourself. Look at both sheets. Now take the sheet with what you don’t like about yourself, tear it up and throw it away. Take the self-love sheet and carry it with you wherever you go.
Speak self-love into existence.
For those of us living with mental illness, we have to speak self-love into existence. When you feel down and consumed by self-hate, force yourself to speak self-love out loud. It won’t be easy, and it’s not a cure, but it’s using the power of your voice to balance your thoughts. We can’t always control our emotions, or how we feel about ourselves, but we can control how we speak to ourselves.
Self-Love exercise: Purchase sticky notes. On each one, write an affirmation, a quote, or anything positive. Put them on your mirror or a place where you can see them every day. Regardless of how you feel, speak out loud what is written on those sticky notes each morning.
Embrace and empower yourself.
We are empathetic and compassionate. We are smart, creative and generous. A great way to empower yourself is by helping others. When we give love to others, we give love to ourselves. Start acting on your passion, whatever it may be. You do not have to make a career out of it. It doesn’t matter what it is. If you love animals, volunteer at a local animal shelter. If you love photography, start taking photos of whatever it is that you love. Work on that book you’ve wanted to publish and stop telling yourself you cant do it. You can. I self-published my book. Write a list of your passions and find a way to act on them. Make your emotions tangible, and by doing so, you empower yourself.
Surround yourself with people who empower you.
When you live with mental illness, the people you surround yourself with is so important. If there are people around you who make you feel ashamed, then walk away. Sometimes, we think that we deserve to be shamed because we live with this condition that supposedly makes us bad people. False! Get that idea out of your head. You are a beautiful human with so many gifts to offer another person. There are people out there who will contribute positively to your self-love journey. Invite them in.
Get a Pinterest for self-love inspiration.
Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by Pinterest, I’m just obsessed with it. My favorite app is Pinterest, and I encourage people with mental illness to download it. It’s stress-free, because it’s not focused on people, profiles, followers, or likes. You do not have to post anything. As someone living with bipolar, there has always been something about quotes, poetry, and affirmations that help me connect with my emotions. I always go to Pinterest and search for inspirational mental health quotes. I save pins about self-love that I look at when I am feeling low. Download it, and type in the search box ‘inspirational mental health quotes’ and go from there.
Be careful with self-help books
This is more of a side note, but it’s important to keep in mind. Self-help books are great, but some can do more harm than good. Many self-help books talk about happiness and emotions in a way that shames people with mental illness. Books that question or deny that mental illness is real. The whole, Happiness is a choice, or depression is a symptom of unmet needs (whatever that means). Definitely check out self-help books, but do your research and choose wisely.
If you have any other self-love advice, including self-help books that you think are beneficial, please share in the comment section!
For more mental health and self-love content follow @hannahdblum
In her first book, The Truth About Broken: The Unfixed Version of Self-Love, Hannah Blum redefines what it means to be broken and helps others find their way to a different type of self-love, the unfixed version of it. Through a collection of stories that will never leave your mind, inspirational quotes and the lessons taken from her journey with mental illness, readers are sure to feel empowered after reading this book.