Self Love

Self love to me is loving yourself, wholly and unconditionally. Loving the good parts of yourself and the bad. It is also taking time to care for your self and to make your self the best you can be.

Self-love is something that a lot of us struggle with, myself included. Loving myself is something I’ve struggled with for most of my adolescent/young adult life. Part of this is probably due to my abusive past relationship, and the rest is probably because of my mental illnesses of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I not only struggle with loving myself as a person, but loving the body I live in as well.

Something that really helps me is reading quotes that are meaningful, and I’d like to share a few of those.

“My first love was some insignificant boy, when it should’ve been myself. “

This one is interesting to me. When I was younger, I sought out validation with my relationships. But, if someone didn’t like me, it made me feel bad about myself as well. I later realized that I didn’t need validation from others, I needed it from myself. How can anyone else love me if I don’t in turn, love myself?

“Get into the habit of asking yourself: ‘Does this support the life I’m trying to create?'”

This is an important one. 2019 for me has been focusing on my own growth. Self love falls into that category. In order to grow and learn to love myself, I want to make decisions that support the life I want. This way, I am actively making decisions to better myself and decisions that make me happy.

Self love can be different for every person. It is basically taking some time to spend with yourself and do something that makes you happy. Some examples of what I do is

  • take a bubble bath
  • go for a walk
  • listen to your favorite song
  • have a dance party
  • read
  • go for a walk
  • cuddle a pet
  • exercise
  • journal

But really, what you do is totally up to you. It is really important to occasionally take time to give yourself love. If you are like me and constantly giving others love and attention, it can be rather draining. So, always make sure you are giving yourself some time as well.

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A letter to myself on the days I feel I’m about to drown

You are so much more than your productivity. Don’t break yourself for it.

Friendly reminder that “your best” doesn’t mean pushing yourself to your breaking point. “Your best” means the best you can do while being your best you. Get enough sleep, give yourself breaks, listen to your limits. “Your best” is better when you are happy and healthy.

I know how important it is to you; your work means everything to you, it’s your driving purpose, the fire in your belly, it’s how you find meaning in this sometimes arduous existence.

And you should work hard, push yourself, challenge yourself, get outside your comfort zone.

But you can be all of those things and be the best you. You can be successful without ignoring when your soul and body tell you that they need rest. God, I PROMISE the world will not end if you switch your phone off for a day and don’t open any emails! I swear, the world can go on without you!

Imagine your role in the world has a play and pause button. Don’t be afraid to hit pause when you need to; you can hit play just as easily, even though you’re afraid that if you stop you’ll lose momentum. But sustainable progress and growth and success don’t work that way. People who burn bright until the end are those who know when to dim the lights and when to turn them all the way up. dardan-671877-unsplash

I promise the world will survive if you take the day – maybe even the week if that’s what you really need – to breathe, to get to that laundry that’s been giving your anxiety and sweep all the dust out from under the bed and buy yourself some flowers and connect with loved ones for no reason other than that you should make all the time in the world for the things that matter in a life that is so fleeting.

You’ll hit play when you’re ready. Your fear of failure is just a shadow, it can’t hurt you or your progress. Acknowledge its presence, but say, “this feeling is uncomfortable, but it can’t harm me, it’s just a feeling, nothing more.” Just because you FEEL afraid that taking a break to recharge your mind and soul will derail you doesn’t mean it actually will.

I promise it won’t, so love and believe in yourself enough to trust your ability to get back into the race – after you’ve taken a moment to breathe, hydrate, stretch and centre yourself.

Your health, your wellbeing, and YOU exist outside of how productive you are. Don’t sacrifice those things for productivity. You are valuable and worthy of love and success and happiness and all things great even on your lazy, unproductive days where you don’t do anything noteworthy. You are amazing and valid even on the days you don’t do anything particularly amazing.

Resting is amazing.

Listen to your limits, and value yourself enough to do what you need to do when the alarms go off.

fatima-fuentes-1083754-unsplashHitting pause never killed anybody. You deserve rest, no matter how productive you think you haven’t been/should be.

So, go out and do your best this week; be the best you.

-Steph (hunting happiness)

My Self-Harm Story – #SelfHarmAwarenessDay

Today is Self-Harm Awareness Day. I want to share my own story with self-harm today on this blog from a chapter from my memoir. This is an important topic to discuss because self-harm is such a significant part of mental illness. This is often a silent struggle, but if you are self-harming now or have in the past know that it gets better. It is possible to get to a place where you no longer have the need to self-harm.

#SelfHarmAwarenessDay

Cutting and Self-Harm – My Story – PT 1

I am not advocating that cutting and self-harm is right or wrong. For some, it is just a way of life because for a time in our lives before we get help this is the only escape. Sometimes you get to a point where the emotional pain gets to be too much—self-harm is the only answer. 

This subject means the world to me. The scars on my arms and legs are a constant reminder of who I was, and how far in the last ten years I have come. It’s a sensitive subject, but I would rather talk about it then push it to the side. It is important that others like me know that eventually you can get to the point where you no longer need self-harm.

Today I decided to touch a subject that most people hate talking about (or hearing about), and that subject is cutting and self-harm (I will for the most part call it self-harm from here on out.) I saw some interesting posts today on social media that prompted me writing this chapter in my blog.

I always believe that if people knew more about this subject, people would be less likely to ridicule someone who has lived through something so traumatic that they chose to cut on their skin. Even more so that someone has the courage to talk about their self-harm, which is never easy.

Humans are more connected than ever before thanks to social media the the technology of our time. With so many people connected, it opens a floodgate for people to be more open about their lives. Our little lives are just out there on display for all to see. And yes, I realize people don’t have to put their lives out there on social media, but I digress.

Some people want to post their every thought and emotion on social media merely to make a connection. At times the result of people posting these types of stuff on social media is that people can be harsh. I have seen people bullied because they need to talk about “self-harm.” The comments that people leave are part of the problem, but the issue is more profound and darker. It saddens me because I understand, I have lived it, and people making horrible comments only makes it harder for people to eventually get help. When I was not so in tune with my mental illnesses I too stopped talking about self-harm on my social media because of the negative backlash from the people that called themselves my friends (and some family.) They didn’t understand, and I get that now but it still hurt.

People at times hate what they don’t understand. When the subject if self-harm comes up on social media, people tend to attack it in vicious ways. Most are on one of two sides: the people that cut (I will call them us) and the people that criticize. In this world, there is not much grey area, and people see us as attention seekers. This is an untrue judgment, the posts we make might just be what gets us through a day. It might be what we need to not self-harm that day. There is always a history for someone who cuts, and most people don’t know that person’s past. If you knew this history would you still judge us?

So that’s where this chapter is headed. I want people to know some of my own experiences with self-harm. If you see the history of one us, you might understand what leads us down this path. It is not pretty, and it’s a subject that is in the past I would rather not talk about here, but at the same time, it has to be discussed.

Emotions have always gotten the better of me. Being bipolar, my feelings are heightened to the extremes. It is a cruel world, and most people prefer not to hear about your problems. They have issues of their own, and that’s understandable. That is how it was for me since I was a teenager and into my twenties. People saw the side I let them see, the me on the outside, I was an okay kid. I got decent grades and interacted with people the best I could. On the inside, I was much different.

Dealing with my problems was never my strong suit (it still isn’t.) I prefer to shut my issues inside, and never deal with them head-on. I have never been a people person, and I prefer to be locked inside writing than out socializing with the world. In school, I had people I knew, and I guess you can call them friends. I could never talk about how I felt about self-harming in high school. Most days life just passed me by. This made me different, an outsider. My problems compiled in my head. I never talked about how I felt. I allowed my pain to keep building until it left emotional scars, and those are the worst kind of injuries.

Emotional pain can be an unbearable experience. The world disappears. You get lost in your mind, and escape seems impossible. You feel tired. Alone. It is a dark place. You feel like you are holding the weight of the world. I would lay there for hours doing nothing but staring into space lost in my mind. Social media was my way of escaping. People that experience emotional pain in their lives it is a part of life, but for me, my emotions were magnified by a thousand some nights. The emotional distress would go on for days, weeks, months, and yes, sometimes years. The toll it took on me, it always led me to the wrong solutions— self-harm.

It was emotional pain led me to do things like cutting on my arms and legs  for some of my teenage years and my early twenties. Physical pain, compared to the emotional pain that comes with a mental illness, is easier to deal with because at least physical pain can be healed. That is why my solutions led me to self-harm. My arms and a razor became my sanctuary. When I cut, the emotional pain was pushed out of mind for a short time. Physical scars heal over time, but emotional scars may never recover. My past was always difficult to deal with, and in the present moments I was in turmoil. 

I would hide my scars with hoodies that I never took off so that people couldn’t see what I was doing to myself. For years no one knew that I turned to self-harm. It was easy to hide, and it was just easier to deal. When self-harm became too much, there was always the last resort—suicide. If I am honest, there were so many times that self-harm kept me from committing suicide. The suicidal ideations would appease when I turned to self-harm. I am still here, so there is something positive in the negative.

The point I am trying to make is that life for some people like me, life can be very harsh. We are human just like everyone else. It has been many years since the last time that I cut. I got to a point where I could manage my emotional pain at a level where I didn’t have the need to self-harm. I look back and I realize that my scars made me who I am today—a better person with a mental illness.

I have come a long way, but the scars on my arms are still the reminders of a time where I couldn’t deal with life. It hurt. It cut deep. But ridiculing someone because they would rather have physical pain instead of emotional pain it can destroy that person even more. I know it did for me. There is no shame in being so strong for so long and finally giving in. I believe those are brave people in my eyes.

There are so many people out there, especially at the teenage level (when I started cutting) and I speak to them now. It will be okay. If you haven’t already get help. It would mean the world to me if you got help. If you would like to share your story with me, please do. I will not share it with the world. If you need someone to talk to, I am always there for you. Cutting is not the end of the world.

Always Keep Fighting

James

My GoFundMe

I wanted to say first, thank you all to those who have already donated towards upgrading The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog to the business level. There have been some fantastic large donations and also amazing small donations that have brought us closer, but we are still not quite there–as of today we have made close to 300 dollars, which is really amazing! I think this final push will help us finally achieve our goal. 

What is the Goal?

The next level. Upgrading The Bipolar Writer blog to the business level for the next year and a half. This will give the blog more options on getting the collaborative work out there into the world. I also want a place where authors can showcase and sell their work on here (I am working on how this will be possible.) At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to spread the stories and experiences of those in the mental illness blogging community with the world and end the stigma.

This campaign will end on Sunday, March 3. I hope we reach our goal, of not I will put that money into savings until I can reach that goal with my own money. Every penny will go towards the upgrade.

https://www.gofundme.com/rasing-to-upgrade-the-bipolar-writer-blog

This blog has always been self-funded by my own money, but the community has also helped me with funding from time to time. Every penny that I raise is going towards this blog and spreading the many stories that feature on this blog. It takes just small donations (significant donations are also welcome) and with the 11,100 plus followers of this blog donating 2-3 dollars we can finally reach the goal! The final goal will be $425. 


When I Was Not Enough: Death of A Friendship

Seeing a friendship that was once vibrant with life and laughter die in front of your eyes can be a sad sight. As it takes its final breath, I have to remind myself that it could not be saved.

This friend tried to control me and when I did not do as she demanded, she would get angry with me. Looking back, I now see that I was not enough in her eyes and I’m alright with that.

My former friend and I were best friends since 2013 when we were roommates in university. I felt like I could tell her anything, that she would always be my right-hand woman on Team Megan.

Until 2016.

From then on our friendship began to die.

She did not approve of the man I started dating that year which brought distance between us. After my now ex-boyfriend left for Army basic training, she said that I had to either dump him or marry him immediately.

Those words furiously buzzed in my brain, I was so upset by them that they induced my first panic attack.

After that she and I didn’t spend time together for months until the guy dumped me.

She was present until I began my downward spiral of suicidal thoughts, severe depression, almost daily self-harming and intense anxiety. She refused to listen to my struggles, she couldn’t understand so she closed her ears.

From there I began to distance myself even more from her.

In June 2017 she asked if I would move in with her. I told her no because I just started a new job in April and did not want to leave my boyfriend that I started dating in January. Neither of these things she approved of in the first place.

She was angry with me. She was irritated that I did not drop everything for her. She wanted me to follow the path she was trying to establish for me.

The final straw for me was when she came up to visit me this May. She bought me coffee at my favorite local coffeeshop, sat me down and came for my throat. Figuratively.

She told me how she missed “college Megan” and that she could help me get “back on track” with my career. She began listing off mutual friends saying, “They are doing so well for themselves.”

I understood that as, they are doing great while I’m a loser.

I on the verge of bursting into tears. I couldn’t believe the person who was supposed to be my best friend was saying such hurtful words.

Once she finally left later that afternoon, I laid in my bed and cried.

The next day I texted her, I knew if I called I would cry. I told her she upset me with everything she said and that she made me feel like a failure.

She pulled a Kanye West! She said, “I’m sorry but…” My jaw dropped as she began to justify why she said those hurtful things. She was not sorry at all.

I was not enough for her.

My anxiety tells me that I’ve made a horrible mistake in losing her as a friend. That “if I only listened to her” I would somehow be better off.

My rational self says that I am doing fine without her.

Thank u, next.

My New Self-Care Plan

jess-watters-540510-unsplash.jpgSelf-Care, My New Plan

Recently, I have had time to soul search and think of ways to better myself in as I work towards getting out of 2018 without going too far backward in my mental health. Self-care is so important and in my opinion, it is the one area I struggle in this mental illness life.

All things considered, I am in good spirits today. Things have been bad at times, but there have been real positives. I have found some solace in reducing my dependence on Ativan (I am working on only taking 3mg per day versus 4 mg.) It has been tough some days because at times I feel like the Ativan is the only thing keeping my social anxiety at bay. That is not right in my mind, my dependency has increased too much. I have been making some effort to go outside my comfort zone and leave my house.

I am learning to use my mindfulness breathing before my anxiety hits a high level, which has been a fascinating experiment. I do about fifteen minutes in the morning and spurts of three-five minutes throughout my day as a part of my routine. That is the other thing that I am getting back–a routine.

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Last weekend I noticed that my daily routine was a bit skewed and I was doing things out of order. I am the type that is “all about his routine”–waking up, taking a shower, fixing my bed, eating breakfast and drinking my morning coffee or tea.

I was skipping around my daily routine and leaving things out like not eating breakfast. That is a major faux pas in my life because I am at my best when I eat three meals a day. My routine is everything, and it is essential to stay on track because it is a part of my self-care plan. I noticed that during the summer these tasks are easier to deal with as there is more daylight during the day. With the change in time, I felt as my life was accelerating. As if there was no time for anything (kinda weird being only a few days into the time change.)

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In this mental illness life, there will always be ups and downs, good and bad days. Life is funny that way. I was sitting outside on my patio breathing in the morning and letting the sunlight wash over me when I realized that this experience is not that bad.

We are human, and worse those of us struggling with mental illness will most likely feel this way. That does not mean it has to control us. I am taking positive steps in my self-care, and it is up to each one of us to find your center.

What are your self-care ideas for this time of year?

As always stay strong in the fight…

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo Credit:

Jared Rice

Jess Watters

rawpixel

Joshua Earle

A Mental Health Resource – Poetry by Cass

I was asked by a fellow mental health blogger a writer if I would share her newly published collection of poetry entitled Rooted. It is always the point of this blog to celebrate other bloggers and writers within the mental illness community so that the real people in the community are highlighted. Here is the information on Cass’ work.

Rooted by Cass

Hi everyone! My name is Cass and I’m a Canadian blogger, and newly published author! My collection of poems, titled Rooted, has just released and I’d like to share some of my words with you.

Rooted has a strong focus on love and heartbreak, self-love, self-improvement, and mental illness.

Mental illness is something that will affect everyone in some way at least once in our lives, whether it be yourself or a family member that’s suffering.

I use poetry as an outlet; that’s how this collection started. I would just write down the words that came to me, especially on my down days, and it became a collection I can share with others.

I hope my words reach you in some way, and can maybe give you the guidance you need or the reassurance that with whatever demons you are battling, you are not alone.

The poem below is the first in my collection, inspiring the collection title. Willow trees are a big part of this book and my writing. They represent strength and the ability to stand through challenges, and I wish to be the same, so they’ve become a big symbol for me.

You can visit my blog here: www.turningpages00.wordpress.com

And order my debut collection here: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1732464324/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539863672&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=cassandra+chaput&dpPl=1&dpID=41e0yxddswL&ref=plSrch

Rooted cover

Rooted

I am rooted.

A tree standing tall, resilient in the harsh, blowing winds.

Strong I stand.

I feel the storm arrive.

The clouds surround the sun, suffocating its light, allowing for dark days.

There are days when the ghosts whisper in my ears, making me question all that I know.

There are days when the clouds cry, making the ground muddy from their tears.

I walk, and feel stuck.

Unable to move

My feet are slowly sinking into the earth

I feel like crying with the clouds.

But I’m too strong for that.

The winds are powerful, and I feel like anything could knock me over.

I’m not the best with balance, but I’m getting there.

100 Things

It has been some time since I have written.  With summer in full swing and my children all home for vacation, I found I was spending too much time writing and checking the blog and it was becoming a distraction from what is most important in my life: my family.  So I chose to take a break.  But, with everyone back in school, I am feeling the need to create and to express myself.  I am glad to be back.

I’ve written frequently about self love and wanting to improve in this area.  I have been grateful to make significant progress in this area over the past couple of months.  To share a brief update, I had some adjustments to my thyroid medication which significantly improved my depression.  This has helped me in many ways.  I no longer have a constant negative dialogue going in my mind.  I feel optimistic and generally better about life and myself.  I am so grateful for these improvements.

Some months ago, when I was really struggling with negative self talk, I stumbled on a podcast by Jody Moore, a life coach.  In this podcast, she challenges her listeners to make a list of 100 things to love about themselves.  Naturally, really wanting to improve in the area of self love, I tried the exercise for myself.

I got out my neglected journal and pen and wrote out numbers 1 through 100.  With great difficulty I began writing everything that I could think of that I loved about myself.  I mentioned my talents.  I mentioned character traits that I’m happy I have.  I listed things I do that make me and others happy.  I mentioned skills I’ve learned that bless my life and even mentioned physical traits that I’m happy about.  I think I repeated a few items accidentally, but I managed to get all the way to 77 things I love about myself.  I am going to complete the list today.

Why would this be helpful?  I’ve found that when my depression is present, everything externally and internally perceived is twisted in a negative light by my mind.  It makes feeling good about life and myself very difficult.  Taking time to write out the truth, rather than the skewed version of reality I am living in, helps me.  It helps me to challenge the negative dialogue and see what really is.

I am going to get a little cheesy here for a minute, so bear with me.  I know that I am unique and valuable and precious.  I know the same is true for each person that ever lived.  It can be very difficult, but when your mind is telling you the opposite, know that it is lies.  Combat these lies with the truth.

I challenge you  to discover the truth about yourself by taking time to write 100 things to love about you.  Remember, like I’ve said before, treat yourself like someone you love.  Look at yourself from the outside and see what makes you unique and valuable and precious.  It is there.

I hope you can discover it for yourself.  And when you do, I hope you feel a sense of gratitude that you are you.

Love, Chelsea

Constant Battles

When mental illness is present, there is constant conflict within.  Many of us share similar battles because we have a similar set of symptoms.  Some of us fight battles very unique to us and our circumstances.  Sometimes, a battle is present because of deep scars from our past.  Whatever the battle, it can be very difficult at times, and we can come away feeling defeated or discouraged.  This is something I know you each understand.

I have shared in past posts about my battle with loving myself.  It is an ongoing challenge that I am doing my best to overcome.  If I am being honest, a lot of the time, it simmers in the background while I deal with the business of caring for my children and home.  Then there are times when it comes to the forefront and I am reminded that I need to give this aspect of my life more deliberate attention.

This describes what happened to me this past weekend.  I pushed myself too hard a couple days in a row and ended up having some significant depression symptoms again.  I was forced to slow down and then to ask myself again, why do I keep doing this to myself?  The answer always comes back to the root problem, which is that I just don’t treat myself with love.  I don’t love myself at all.  In fact, I realized in while I was pondering this, that I despise myself.  I was saddened by the realization but knew it was true.  Every thought I have in relation to myself has been negative.  Every time I look in the mirror, I see my perceived flaws.  Any time I do anything  I am constantly giving myself a beat mental beat down.

I have talked this over with my husband a lot.

This weekend, he put things in a new light for me when he said kindly, “Will you please be nice to my wife?”

This question hit me right in the gut.  I could see my negative thought process from a new perspective–I could see it from the outside.  In this moment, I realized that my self-loathing was not only making me sad, but my husband as well.  He loves me and sees all of my good qualities. He wants me to be happy and he sees how I am keeping my own happiness out of reach by treating myself the way I do.  For some reason, hearing him ask me that question really helped me.

I also had the opportunity to open up to a close friend about my struggle with self love.  She is a great friend and made a really great suggestion.  She suggested trying positive self-affirmations daily to help me retrain my thoughts.  I loved this suggestion and gave it a try.  I spent some time looking at myself in the mirror and saying some affirmations.  I spent a good 5 minutes or so doing this.  At first I just felt silly.  I didn’t believe what I was saying.  But after a couple minutes of really trying to see myself as I see others, I had a little spark of hope.  I realized that this would be really helpful if I did it on a regular basis.  I know I have a lot of work and practice to do before I will really internalize and believe what I am telling myself, but it is a great start and it feels really good to be doing something to help win this battle.

One thing working against me, is my forgetfulness.  I did the affirmations the morning after she told me about them, but then forgot to do it the last couple days.  So, I am going to get a dry erase marker and write a reminder on my bathroom mirror.  No more excuses!  This is a serious conflict that needs some serious, diligent effort.

How about you?  What is one of your greatest battles?  What are you doing to get through it?

Have any of you had experience using positive affirmations?

As always, I love to hear from you.  Please comment below to share your experiences.

 

 

 

You Are Enough

What I share below is something I never have verbalized to anyone in full.  I share here, in a judgment-free zone, to start a conversation about something I feel is very important to my lasting happiness.  This is not easy for me, but I am hoping it will helps someone else.

Here goes…

Today I share a lifelong and ongoing journey with understanding my self-worth. When I talk about self-worth, I’m referring to my intrinsic value as a human being.

Our ideas about who we are and what makes us valuable are often shaped at a very young age. How our parents/guardians spoke to us, what they praised us for, how we were reprimanded, if we sustained abuse of any kind–all of that will begin to shape our ideas about our self-worth.

In my family, appearances were very important. To have the biggest, nicest house and the nice vehicles was valued. Not only this, but our individual physical appearance was valuable. We were all nice looking children. This was praised and resulted in admiration from my parents and grandparents. Others who didn’t live up to their standard of beauty or attractiveness were put down and demeaned in conversations at home. Hearing this kind of dialogue over and over formed the idea within me that I was valuable because of how I looked, and that somehow made me a little better than other people who weren’t physically attractive. I am ashamed to admit this but it was true.

Another valued attribute in my family was being able to make things happen and get things done. Accomplishing tasks, getting good grades, working hard–these were all applauded. Again, I heard talk of others who had depression or similar invisible health problems and they were disparaged and put-down in my hearing. I learned that I needed to be accomplished to be valued and that others who couldn’t do this were “lazy” and less valuable as people.

In admitting this, I am not trying to throw my family under the bus. I love my parents and acknowledge that they taught me a lot of valuable skills, truths and work ethic that have helped me throughout my life. Please, don’t judge them too harshly. I think that the generation preceding them (my grandparents), really drummed these ideas into them in a similar way to how they were drummed into me.

So, as a young person, in good health, I felt I had a lot of value because I was attractive and thin and smart and could get things done. (It’s horrible to admit, but true).

However, when my physical and mental health began to decline due to hypothyroidism and depression, I struggled with feeling that I had any value at all. I had gained a lot of weight and I was no longer the fun, vivacious person I used to be. I had difficulty getting things done. My house was often a mess. In general, to say I was struggling is an understatement. I felt that I had lost all of my value. On top of my health problems, I was ashamed to be me. What a tragedy!

As years went by, I finally got the help I needed for my health problems, got gung-ho about getting healthy and lost a lot of weight. I could accomplish many things again, I felt fun, and cheerful again. I felt I had worth again. I no longer subscribed to the false idea that I was better than others but my value as a human being still depended on these outward circumstances, just like they always did. So, while all the circumstances were “perfect” I felt that I was worth something.

Then, things came crashing down again when I got pregnant with my last child. Weight gain most significant and severe depression hit again. A big part of my misery during this time was feeling, again that I had lost my value. I didn’t want to be miserable about this so, I finally got to the point where I asked myself, “What if I’m stuck in this state for the rest of my life?” I realized that I would want to be happy and love myself, even in my current state. I needed to learn how to so that I could try my best to be satisfied in the present. So began a journey of self-love that I continue to this day.

As I thought about self worth I had to ask myself some hard questions. What makes an individual valuable?

Here’s what I learned: my value and yours is constant. It does not change with fluctuating circumstances. This means that I am worth the same no matter my pants size, no matter my hair color, what my face looks like or how I talk.  How I appear and how I show up in the world, has no bearing and no effect on the value of who I am inside.  Don’t believe me?  Consider the following story.  A man, young and healthy is diagnosed with diabetes. Time goes on, and he struggles maintaining his health.  Complications of his disease result in an amputation of one of his limbs.  Would we say that he is now worth less now because his body has changed?  Of course not.  But we do this to ourselves all the time.

I also learned, importantly, we are all worth the same. Period. Regardless of race, religion, creed, gender, or sexual preference we all have the same value.  This goes without saying and yet many people in the world think that their group has more value than another.  This is a deplorable but a prevalent problem in the world today.

And here’s something else: nothing we can do, or not do, will change our worth. It remains constant even when we mess up, even if we excel–there’s nothing we can do to change our worth, either by attempting to increase it or diminish it.  How do I know this is true?  Consider my own story.  Was I really worth less because I couldn’t accomplish much due to my depression?  Of course not!  Yet, I allowed myself to believe it.  In the same way, I am not worth more if I can do more!  If it is true for me then it is true for others as well.  The child that makes a mistake is not worth less because he messed up.  And that same child is not worth more if he seemingly does everything right.

Logically, this is easy to acknowledge and yet it’s hard to live it. I’ll tell you why I say this. Consider your own life. Consider what you feel makes you valuable. Make a mental list. Did you list anything about your appearance, culture or accomplishments? If so, consider the following. How would you feel about your worth if circumstances beyond your control took all of that away from you? Imagine you’ve been physically disfigured and your ability to continue with your accomplishments is taken away. Do you still feel valuable? It’s hard, isn’t it? We often think we are worth something for all the wrong reasons. Then when we feel we mess up or don’t live up to our ideals, or circumstances change our abilities, our self worth plummets in our minds, and so does our happiness.

Where does our worth come from then?  If you subscribe to a belief in God, then know that you are of worth because you are His child–end of story.  You can’t add to that, or diminish it.  If you feel you exist by chance or evolution, I add that it you are of worth because you are you.  You are unique–the one and only you in the history of the world.  Your DNA is original.  Your presence in the world is irreplaceable.  Your effect, incalculable–just by being present and alive.  Like Clarence says in the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life:” “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

So, in my long-winded way, I am saying that you are worth more than you know or understand, and so am I.  I believe in self improvement and learning and changing and growing with life’s circumstances–but I also believe in the intrinsic worth we all have as humans.  And that doesn’t change, no matter what.

Many circumstances can effect our level of happiness in life, and getting on or off the changing rollercoaster of our own self worth will certainly have an effect.  What has been your experience with self-worth?  How has it affected your level of happiness?

Think on this. And tell me how you feel about it.  Am I off base here?

Do you ever struggle with your self worth?

I still do from time to time.  I’m still internalizing all this, but I know it’s true and I know that, because of this, I am always enough.

And so are you.