Sometimes, panic is enough to have caused sleepless nights, and I used to make the mistake of spending those nights on social media, browsing my Facebook page, responding to comments, until I came across a comment that made my mind spin. It was on a piece of writing that spoke about self love and how important it is. It was about how you should replace the I love you with I love me so that you stopped feeling so insecure and understood you were whole. This comment basically said Start caring about the state of the world and other people instead of focussing on yourself. Self care is really not a thing. It really isn’t important, nor are broken hearts or suffering. Most times self care is just selfish though. Healing is not essential.
Several things about this comment struck a nerve. It bothered and bristled for the rest of the night. And I realised it wasn’t the judgmental aspect of that person that was actually bothering me. It was the fact they represented a rather large aspect of society that really thinks like that. Healing is not important. Self care is not important. Self care is high maintenance and selfish.
No wonder so many of us are struggling with our mental health. Because it’s a vicious circle. We do what we can to make ourselves feel better and there are people in our lives making us feel bad, or guilty, like we are not allowed to look after ourselves. This is so wrong, I can’t even begin to describe how upsetting it is to know there are people out there struggling with mental illness, the effects of trauma, the heartache of being left by their other halves, in some kind of suffering being invalidated by people like the above commentator. The truth is, this kind of thinking does so much harm. And people have family members who talk this way to them. “YOU aren’t important, other people are.” – this is what this translates to. And it’s not true. Everyone is important, but to you, you HAVE to be the most important person. You see, other people will let you down. If you place them on pedestals, they will invariably show you how flawed and human they are. They will be temporary and leave. So spending all of your time caring about them is an easy recipe to get hurt over and over again.
Sure, do good in the world. Do everything you possibly can as a human to make other people’s lives easier, but please do not do this at cost to yourself or your mental health, no matter what anyone says. You want to take a mental health day from work, from studying, from outings because you are super anxious or depressed or struggling? Do it. You aren’t going to be productive when you are struggling. You aren’t going to appreciated for going in whilst struggling mentally either. In fact, if you do a bad job, chances are your boss will fire you.
The people who care are really few and far between. So it is deeply important to make yourself the primary person who cares about you. It is deeply important to quit toxic relationships, to quit toxic people. You do not owe them your mental health. It is possible to be the primary person who cares about you whilst helping other people out. No matter what other people say, you be the person who matters most to yourself whilst helping others too. Take no guilt in taking personal time, allowing yourself time to heal or dealing with things no one else will ever understand but you. Celebrate your small victories. Celebrate yourself.
And remember, you are not selfish in wanting to take care of yourself and your mental health.