As I am sitting down to write this, I’m thinking to myself, “Is this my way of self -care; does writing help me self –actualize?”. And my answer remains the same – yes and yes again. Self-care comes naturally to some people, and for some, it requires a more nuanced approach. I used to take the nuanced approach before I understood that caring for and doing something for yourself every day is more important than caring for others in your life. When we think about self-care, we automatically assume that we’re vulnerable to a condition - why? It’s because of a concept called self-stigma.
Self-stigma occurs when a person becomes aware of public stigma concerning mental health, agrees with those stereotypes, and internalizes them by applying them to oneself. This means they’re not only agreeing to the stereotypes surrounding mental health, but they’re also making themselves victims by complying with them. How will they ever care for themselves? Attaching yourself to self-stigma not only burdens you with putting up a strong face in front of the world but also makes you lie to yourself about your mental health, no matter how you feel. That’s one of the worst things that we as humans could do to ourselves.
Here’s a common example: You’re in a romantic relationship, and your significant other picks up a fight with you. They give you a silent treatment afterwards. Now, this might seem familiar to a lot of you. For people with anxiety, it could mean a whirlwind of overthinking, over-analyzing, and self-deprecating thoughts. The fact that you allow yourself to be in a situation where someone continues to blame and punish you for something that might not be in your control means you’re treating yourself the same way they are treating you – with negligence.
To simplify further, if you trip while walking and hurt your knee, you will by default reach for an antiseptic to clean the wound and tend to it. But why do we not do the same when we’re hurt emotionally? THAT, that is the reason why it’s called self-stigma.
The more you allow the wound to be open and unattended, the more likely it is for it to develop pus and infection.
This might cripple you further; the wound has to be attended to before it’s too late.
The brain is a muscle; it needs as much care as the rest of your body. Practicing self-care could be as simple as going for a walk, dancing to your favorite song, writing about your day, or caring for your skin. We need to remember to keep it simple. The more simple our process is, the more simple our life becomes.
It doesn’t matter how and when you care for yourself; it matters that you do it. Lately, we have seen so many people posting about the need to have healthy conversations on mental health, supporting the idea of therapy, and asking people to reach out, but how many of us practice these? I know only one, out of the gazillion people I know, who takes a mental health break for themselves. During the break, they do things that make them happy – singing, writing, reading a book.
We have internalized the stigma so much that we’ve forgotten to satisfy our self-actualization needs - those needs which help us realize our full potential. It’s okay to feel mentally tired, and it’s okay to feel anxious five times a day, it’s okay to want to curl up like a burrito and watch Netflix all day, it’s okay to not want to work or study all year long. You are allowed to feel this way because it’s only natural. We can’t expect our brain to work 24/7, 365 days a year without giving it a break.
Learn how to accept your own needs and tend to yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The quicker we see past stereotypes and “perceptions” that society has built for us, the faster we can understand how to live a healthier and more constructive life. After all, it’s your life; you have control over everything, whether you admit it or not. You always have the choice of taking ownership of and having accountability for your actions. Self-stigma ends where accountability begins. Be accountable for yourself and start accepting yourself for who you are.
The feeling of vulnerability is your brain’s way of saying, “take care of me”. So why don’t you? Vulnerability is healthy; taking care of yourself is also healthy.
Written by - Tanya Kathuria
Your mental health matters as much as your physical health. Don't hesitate to take a step towards your mental well-being. If you’re looking at talking to a professional, book your Initial Consultation with us on https://www.themoodspace.com/freeconsultationor write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Take a step towards bettering your mental wellbeing because you deserve it!