How to love yourself


Perhaps the title of this article has halted you in your tracks. Hmm, you think, I want to learn how to love myself. Or perhaps there is no one reading this as they, like me, think that these types of positivity articles are generally full of crap. 

I won’t disagree with you on that one. 


But I wanted to write this article, despite my fear and laziness, for those of our readers who-like I was once, are discontented with themselves, whether that be physically, psychologically or emotionally. Perhaps you think disconnected is too light a word but this article will already be heavy enough without other such strong words.


I suppose I am being too vague with the real reasons I’m writing this article and I had wished to be frank so here it is; I used to hate myself. Plain and simple and painfully uncomfortable to read. You shrink back from the page awkwardly as this teenager starts to express their darkest thoughts and feelings, but this is important, for anyone to hear. 


I hated myself. There wasn’t any particular reason why. My body; God I hated the way I looked, my thoughts; telling me I was useless and pointless, my laziness; if I was so imperfect, why couldn’t I fix myself? 

And therein lies the problem. You cannot fix yourself because you are not broken. You believe you are because there is no other explanation you can think of. Or would dare to. 

I’ve heard poets and writers say “depression is a hug” or “depression is a comfort” and had I not experienced it myself, I would not have understood. But I do. A mental illness consumes you and your logical thoughts ebb away as it takes control. Soon that is all you can think about and the only thing that truly feels real anymore. Losing this last shred of something, however detrimental it might be, seems like an awful lot to lose if it’s the only thing you have left. 


Writing about these things I experienced and recalling them makes me realise the solutions lay in the problems. You are not broken; we’ve established that, but you are missing something. Whatever has been taken away by the disease is lost-not forever, but while you cannot find it, all feels hopeless. 


There is no formula for how to find whatever you’ve lost and bring it back, the best I can tell you is it is always possible to find it.


I do not want to tick off mental illnesses like a list and try and solve them because you really can’t do that, but I will mention one other thing: body image.


My self-image was tied unavoidably to my depression and anxiety. When I was feeling bad, I hated the way I looked even more. My freckles, my scars, my thighs; the things I could not imagine myself without now, were ugly and different and looked wrong on me. 


I will always remember what a friend said to me once when I was having trouble with myself. She said “all the little things you see in strangers on the street-their freckles or stretch marks or too big or too small features that you find beautiful on them, look just the same on you”. 


Perhaps your eyes are not the same as that person’s but they are just as different and just as beautiful. A warped view of your body creates a sort of hatred of the different and you start to hate certain features that countless others have that you have too. 

It helped me to think of myself as some sort of hero for loving everyone else’s unique features and because of that, I had to love my own too. 


You should never romanticise a mental illness but romanticising yourself is just a part of healthy living. It is never selfish to love someone and after all, you are just someone. 


All this does not mean I have a perfect life, on the contrary. I still get awful grades, I still have fights with my family and friends, I still have no idea how to handle my feelings. But that’s rather the point, you aren’t meant to handle them, you’re meant to feel them.


Never once doubt the validity of your condition but always know that you are not your disorder. You are you and you can always be stronger than a mental illness.