This November, I want to be thankful for me.
I’m not great at being grateful for myself, for being the human form I embody. I usually ignore my existence altogether.
While I cannot make miracles happen within thirty days like all the clickbait challenges and TV shows make it appear, I want to consciously start somewhere. Set the foundation for what could lie ahead.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll falter under the pressure and cave to everything I’m used to, what has felt safe. But have I been really living?
Up to this point, when the mental overcast clouds marking the “norm” of my formative years start to dissipate, I don’t really know who I am. Who is this soul embodied in human flesh? What kind of person is this unique arrangement of cells and genetic material?
Mental illness, like any other disability, is debilitating for many reasons, most of which go beyond the surface. Whatever chronic ailment you manage, you feel like you are that disease. All its symptoms and side effects are simply your personality. And when you have the disease long enough, you begin to forget you might have been any different.
That is where I stand. Thanks to an increase in medication and a Fisher-Wallace stimulator, I’m finding that true change, true relief from severe mental illness, is possible. I don’t have to be perpetually dull and sad. Not every little mishap has to be imminent doom. The thought of gaining weight, especially muscle, doesn’t send me down a spiral of despair. “So, THIS is what people usually feel like…”
It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone in this current struggle for identity. Mental illness tends to surface in preteen and teenage years, a period of crucial emotional development. Those lucky enough to face relapsing, severe symptoms miss these opportunities for self-growth and discovery. The priority isn’t answering, “Who am I?”; it’s answering, “Can I get out of bed and do I want to live today?”
The same sentiment goes for mentally ill college-aged folk. You’re on off this new, independent adventure…but too many feel like they “lag behind.” Their years to explore and do the “college things” is designated for therapy appointments, doctor appointments, crippling fears, missed classes, feelings of failure and hopelessness that immerse your body in inescapable quicksand.
Yes, I wanted to get through college as quickly as possible, graduating in three years. That’s partly because I’m by nature wanting to be ambitious and going way over the “average” bar, but my college years weren’t the glorious memories movies and social media portray. Simply put, there wasn’t a single day I didn’t feel helpless to whims of depression, anxiety, anorexia, and the combination thereof.
Environment plays a huge role in your wellness. I wanted to get out of the college scene as soon as possible, so that’s what I did. And from there? Whisking myself into the adventure that is teaching in American Samoa. How I thought that’d benefit my health—besides delaying the inevitable career decisions ahead—I don’t know. But here I am. Here is where I find out who I am.
What does “self-discovery” even me? So far, it’s been realizing really random details about my behaviors. For example, I talk and sing to myself constantly. Someone would probably think I’m having a party all the time, but instead I’m just pouring a bowl of puppy chow or watching a TV show.
Or, strange concept, but I can stay in contact with friends and reply to their messages sooner than several days after they send them. Seriously, for years, I’ve become overwhelmed with the
During these “30 Days of Confidence,” as I’m coining it, I want to be intentional with each day and attempt forming new habits that I’ve wanted to start doing but have always fallen through with completing. The tree-hugging hippie I am, and yet I rarely do yoga or meditate. Obviously not a requirement, but if I believe so strongly in things but never do them myself…I feel quite hypocritical.
This month, I also want to be serious about self-care and self-love. I’ve learned to accept myself…tolerate myself…but I’ve concluded that I really don’t like myself that much. I’m determined to change that, especially as my mental health improves. I want to be able to feel at home and at peace with myself. It’s child’s play to conjure up my flaws and failures, but anything good? Hardly believable.
The radical concept of loving oneself has become trendy to tote, but how do we truly apply it to our own lives? Surely it’s more than reciting Pinterest mantras and taking candle-lit bubble baths. In a game of Never Have I Ever, I could use the far-off experience of gazing into a full-body mirror and think, “I love you,” and stump plenty of other players, too.
Again, I’m not about to set a strict regime all month and expect to make magic happen. Instead, I’ll stay curiously optimistic. The mindset I’m in is a foreign land, and I’m a traveler embarking into parts unknown. Who knows what might await? Every day is an opportunity for further growth and discovery.
Care to join me on your own “30 Days of Confidence”? I would love to hear about your journey and all the terrain you cover. Keep me in the loop, or not. Sometimes the greatest acts of self-care are the ones you don’t feel like broadcasting to the world.
ALSO, do you have any suggestions for me of how to best use these “30 Days of Confidence”? What are some ways you like to boost your self-esteem and really treat yourself well?
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie