Nobody Needs Help Hating Themselves

Photo: Ana Yankova.
Courtesy of Stockvault.

Even if I didn’t have a depressive disorder, I’d know that my life isn’t exactly where I want it to be. I used to be independent and relatively self-sufficient. Now I’m unable to function on my own. Being in crowds of people terrifies me, and being around people for long periods of time drains me and sends me into bad mental episodes. Strangely, I don’t mind talking to people, but I get weird when I’m close enough to people that they might bump into me or just touch me on accident.

I hate these flaws, and I don’t need help cultivating that hate.
There’s a lot of self help out there that wallows in anger and hatred. Don’t have what you want in life? Hate that. What you have in life doesn’t make you happy all the time? Get mad about it. Someone having an otherwise good day while you’re miserable? Take that person down a peg.

Except life happens and changes things no matter what, so all of that was going to happen anyways. I grew up thinking that it happened because it was just how the universe worked, and not because I could control how I felt about any of it. Things would just happen to me, and however I felt had to be the only way I could feel about them. So whenever I started hating myself, I thought it was natural and normal.

That kind of stuff lingers in my mind like the memory of an addiction. Mine was cigarettes. I haven’t smoked in over four years, but I can remember how good it would feel to have that first smoke in the morning. After the rosy memories come the darker ones, the ones where I remember how scared I’d get when I couldn’t buy my Marlboros.

It’s those latter kinds of thoughts I associate with ideas that help me hate myself. They’re why I try to avoid them like the plague, and why I get so nervous around them. I revert into cause-and-effect. These thoughts turn me into Pavlov’s dogs or some conditioned primate. Being powerless is a great part of feeling terrible, and I feel all kinds of powerless when I hate myself.

The most important thing I’ve learned in the past few years is that I can control what happens next.
I don’t always feel this way, but there are times when I remember I can choose to think differently. It may take a while. To call it practice is putting it mildly. At times, I think it’s like I’m relearning what it means to be a human being.

And I can’t promise myself that I’ll always have the upper hand. Like an addiction, I can only promise myself that I’m going to do what I can today. Tomorrow’s its own set of issues. It will have to wait its turn.

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