Self-care is essential for managing any mental illness. There are days that I just can’t handle the world. I need coffee and Netflix and a cat on my lap. I need rest. I need self-care. But that is only possible if I am honest with myself.
On the surface, this starts with being honest with myself about when I need those self-care days. It involves me recognizing that I am of no use to anyone if I don’t first take care of myself. Thanks to the therapy I’ve gotten, and the people in my life who support me, I’ve become more confident about taking those days.
Yet there is a deeper self honesty that is needed for deeper self-care. It is being honest about the mistakes you make and about the times you fall back into the darkness. Maybe you want to hurt yourself to release some of the pain you feel. Maybe you try to drink yourself numb like I used to do.
And you feel the shame of it all. The pain of feeling like you failed the people who love you, who’ve supported you, but who sometimes are probably just as exhausted by it as you are. And if you let it, if you let the lies of mental illness feed that shame, it will pull you down deeper.
Being honest with yourself breaks that pattern. It means saying to yourself that it isn’t your fault that your had a bad day. That doesn’t mean you don’t take responsibility for it. It means that you are honest with yourself that you have a disease and that these horribly dark days are part of that disease. Being honest about that will avoid the shame of relapsing and help you take responsibility for those episodes.
You don’t get to choose how you feel. You don’t get to choose whether you have a mental illness or not. However, you can choose whether to be honest with yourself about that. Because honestly truly is the best policy. Especially when you are being honest with yourself.