Becoming Self Aware to Improve Self Care

Originaly posted on HonestK

Become Self Aware to improve Self Care

^^ I’m copywriting that stroke of literacy genius up there^^

I never thought I would see the day that I, HonestK (that’s my name, check my birth certificate if you like), would not only have huge interest in self care, but that I would actually be writing a post about it. As I have mentioned previously in ‘Bitches be crazy’, I thought I was pretty immune to the mumbo jumbo nonsense that is mental health and self care, tainting it with the perception that it was all a bunch of crazy, for crystal swinging, essential oil sniffing, bendy yoga loving, incense burning nutters.

Well, it’s not.

Self care is essential, for everyone, it’s just that some of us are better at it than others. Some of us completely neglect it all together, it becomes an after thought in our all ready busy lives. Yet, if we don’t take care of ourselves how are we supposed to take care of others and be the best we can be? All too often we prioritize others over our-self, and that is fine, but it comes with a cost, an expensive cost of neglecting to care for yourself.

It’s would be a fair assumption to make that we are all busy. We all have chores, children to worry after, schools to attend, exams to study for, mouths to feed, employers to appease, family to entertain, cats and dogs to feed, kitchens to fill with food, friends to socialise with, bills to pay, debts to clear. We are always on the go, rushing from one task to the next.

Our mental health doesn’t care for such a demanding lifestyle, like any over worked muscle, it needs rest, attention and most importantly, love. If it we do not feed our mental health with the love it requires, it can, and will, retaliate like a toddler that has been told no more cake. It can throw a right wobbly, huffing, kicking, screaming and making you very uncomfortable indeed, to the point of longing for an escape. When ill treated, our mental health can warp our perception, it can create loneliness, apathy, guilt and self hate. It can turn you against yourself, your biggest and loudest critic, you begin to question, doubt and hate everything about yourself, drawing comparisons against others, who are always a ‘better person’ than you. No self care or love can be achieved with this mindset, only when we become aware can we begin to self care.

My therapist once asked me how I felt about myself, I didn’t need to say the answer, it was written all over my watering eyes. Myself and I have a complicated relationship, but at least we have a relationship, something we can work with. Over time I have learnt to understand the depression side to myself. Unwillingly, I gave it (me) understanding and empathy, it is not a force I can overpower or ignore, like it or not it I unmasked my deepest inner self hate and came face to face with myself. This aggressive, negative, powerful, isolating, ‘demon’ depression is me.

Becoming self aware is painful. We don’t like to think of ourself in this way, we don’t like to acknowledge that we may have a darker side to us. We tend to hide it from ourselves and society.

As part of my therapy I had a conversation with myself and my ‘other self’. It was brutal and intense. For days after I felt drained and emotionless. Speaking out loud to myself, I questioned why I am ‘like this’ and answered the same question. Physically I placed my body in each of ‘myselfs’, switching seats to play each part. Encouraged by my therapist, I questioned myself and came to the conclusion that I hated myself. Never in my life have I had this opinion of myself and it was a pretty large and bitter pill to swallow, admitting, truly and honestly my self hate.

You cannot hate yourself, well, you can, but that is a dark, lonely and painful path to walk through. Instead of hating the dark, depressing, anxiety driven, aggressive, confrontational self sat opposite me, I was asked to understand, to reason with and to embrace it with love. Sounds silly, doesn’t it. I admit, the whole scenario was uncomfortable, for so many reasons. Yet, it worked. In that moment, that intense, embarrassing ‘talking to myself’, holding back yet more tears, ‘I actually hate myself’ moment, I became self aware. I hate to write it, but I became at one with myself.

From that moment on I became self aware. Aware that along with my humour, my kindness, my laughs, my love, my hope, my dreams there is also my sadness, my anxiety, my despair, my hopelessness, my pride, my anger and my hate. All these emotions, thoughts and feelings make us, us. They all balance on a spectrum, all with equal power, yet when we focus on one area such as hate, the power from the other emotions seem to become powerless. Useless. Gone. For me, when I’m down, I focus all my energy on the ‘negative’ emotions such as anger and hate, it clouds my perception, it makes me self reflect and analyse, but always through hate tinted glasses.

Hating yourself is very easy to do. We need a little self hate sometimes. Maybe not hate, but we need a system to keep our self in check, to prevent us from becoming ‘bad’ people. Just as death is considered ‘bad’, we need it to live and grow. We need an element of self hating. How else would will we realise we are being a grade A arsehole to our partner for no good reason?! What else would force us to (reluctantly) apologize? Hate isn’t always a bad emotion, only when we focus on it and apply it to our self or others with too much force or strength does it become a problem.

Now I am self aware – imagine me saying that whilst floating above a magical, mystical rug, with twinkling sounds in the background, incense burning to my right and an essential oil diffuser to me left – I try to not jump on my emotions or thoughts, I try to not berate myself when I snap or snark at someone David. Instead, I take a mental step back, I question what is making me feel like this? Sometimes I’m tired, I’m hun(an)gry, I’m hormonal, I’m ill, sometimes there is no reason. Sometime’s I’m human and that is what happens. Sometimes it’s depression and anxiety. And when it is these little shits playing up, I can see it now, I can identify them from the line up.

Not everyday is the same, some days I know and understand my moods. Some days I can’t be arsed, coz dealing with mental illness is hard work. But at least I have become aware. It no longer frightens me, I no longer hate on myself. I practice the art of self care by understanding myself. I’m allowed to be a moody so and so from time to time and I’m allowed to tell you this and ask for space. That’s OK. Just like we are allowed to be happy and full of beans, you too, are allowed to be a grumpy shit every now and again.

Self care, for me, begins with almost monitoring myself. At one point I had a journal, that daily, I would ‘evaluate’ my mood. I would colour the box according to my mood, green for good, red for bad, etc. This didn’t work for me, not only am I too lazy to even do that, but I thought it placed too much focus on my mood. It kinda gave my moods a ‘them’ and ‘us’ attitude, something to be closely monitored. So I stopped doing this. Instead I take each day as it comes, mindful of how I feel. Lately I have been great, so I remind myself I have been great, just as I would if I was wrapped up in depression – on those days, weeks, months I tell myself I’m ‘low’ and I think it keeps me low. So my theory is when I’m ‘happy’ I’ll tell myself I’m happy and really relish being happy, to keep me happy – not that I’m finding it hard to be happy at the moment, I do feel I’m edging closer and closer to the light in this depression tunnel.

The one thing I do monitor is my ‘cycle’. I can and do get very low, angry, aggressive and just plain unreasonable on the lead up to the big P, enough to make me doubt and question my mental health. Am I depressed again? Should I see the doctor? Should I call my therapist? What should I do?! I don’t want to go back to that! – it all gets a bit ugly. But thankfully I’m just a hormone producing, walking bag of eggs being released. PHEW! I’m not ‘crazy’ just a female – which is the same thing.

Becoming aware of my self, my moods, my body and my triggers has been the single biggest contribution to improving my self care. There is no point in trying to nurture myself when I’m constantly at battle with myself, never allowing myself time or space to self care. I understand my approach might not be the best approach for everyone, neither am I a mental health expert, yet I would urge anyone struggling with any aspect of self hate to seek help, to try and understand their ‘self’, to love and nurture every part. The good and the ugly.

Instead of allowing my emotions, thoughts and feelings to get the better of me, I try my best to understand them and ask what is it they need of me while I ‘let’ them pass. This is my form of self care. Self care isn’t always about making time for a relaxing bath, reading a book, watching your favoutie show, going out with friends. Sometimes it’s just realising what it is you need in that very moment and giving it to yourself. And if that happens to be 3 Bountys while binge watching YouTube videos, then so be it!

It seems to be working, at the moment. For the first time in years I have been more than happy to be alone in the evening, in fact ,I excited looked forward to having a whole evening and night alone, even passing up the offer to hang with the BFFer. For some, this might not mean much, but to someone that was drowning in anxiety, hating her partner having a night out, stressing, wondering, creating ridiculous scenarios of her partner cheating or lusting after someone else, becoming comfortable and happy to be alone is a vast improvement and marker that my mental health seems to be going in the right direction.

Crazy and I have an understanding now. For the first time in 2 years I’m beginning to feel like ‘me’ again. There are still days when I steer towards hating Crazy and I’m certainly still not at peace with her origin or why she produces the emotions that she does, but for now, I’m not focused on that. Maybe it’s relevant maybe it’s not. There is still work to be done, but allowing myself to self care is certainly a step in the right direction.

Despite saying I ‘don’t get’ Pinterest, I have been finding it a great resource for a variety of different topics, I created a board for self care – I’m still adding content to it, so it’s not great at the moment, but if you are looking for tips or ways to improve your self care or even why it’s important then I’m sure you will find something there – the place is mental and you could pin all day and all night- be warned.

Self Care on Pinterest

Post natal depression on Pinterest.

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