Self-Care and Mental Health
By Danielle Oliveira
Our investment in ourselves represents self-worth, and the denial of such subsequently mirrors the belief of something much deeper and much more perverse there within.
The importance of self-care is always the fad, friends encourage it and our feeds overflow with countless ideas, yet we still manage to escape out the other end without any lasting mark of having ever experienced it. Some of us only do the necessary when our lives are on the line; emergency hospital visits, inexcusable blood tests, and last minute hair appointments for grown-out roots. Sadly, some don’t even respond to these extremes, which is in fact the reason why my grandparents passed away way too early. Or maybe it’s the other extreme, making excessive attempts to purchase pleasure yet never reaching the satisfaction we long for.
I personally couldn’t enjoy or benefit from self-care due to deep roots of unworthiness. I definitely didn’t learn how to enjoy, when an occasion of the slightest indulgence was offered, it was followed by immense guilt that destroyed any remaining sense of enjoyment and discouraged any future idea of seeking it ever again.
It was always a question of money. I had believed that I didn’t deserve to be spent on, because when I was it often resulted in arguing, and then remorse on my part for the ones that I had caused to suffer. I believed that my existence and my unacknowledged desire to be taken care of was undeserving. I learned this through daily examples; I observed them, accepted them, and made them my own. I received what I was being taught as a reflection of who I was, but only now do I see that it was that of the other. I watched as one deprived himself of all things good, and yet another utterly bathe herself in such, only to quickly kneel in submission and repent for having rebelled. And me, you ask? I adopted both examples, and I cannot begin to describe the confusing battle I heaped upon myself in doing so.
I had long lived away from home with miles and country borders in between, yet I carried it with me all the same. I felt unworthy of anything that I desired and continued to convince myself to exchange it for something I didn’t even like in order to avoid an outrage, in order to be loved. Just a little. Whatever I purchased at a discount was ultimately paid at the highest price. I had given up myself in exchange for love. That item or moment became torture to me, and my newly trimmed hair made me feel anything but beautiful. I stared at my face in the mirror with utter frustration and deep heartache, criticizing myself and watching on as I lashed my arms in my mind.
My own needs, my own likes and dislikes were there, lost within the contrary lies that sang a distorted harmony over my mind. I had learned a lie and created one too, and I lived it for the first twenty-six years of my life. After looking for help, I painfully learned that the life I was living was not life at all; and I began to write myself a new melody, one without guilt and yes, full of much deserved indulgence.
It’s a matter of investment in myself, an investment that cannot be made in reverse order. I can now sit back and enjoy a manicure with a new heart, and I look on as others hold out their hands before them, seemingly rushed and preoccupied, perhaps hoping that in some way the polish could cover up their blemishes and broken heart, too. It doesn’t work that way, much as it doesn’t work in the way of self-deprivation that I had chosen.
Now at thirty years old and free of medicine, I can victoriously say ‘no more’ to self-deprivation. Today I can enjoy life. I long to use makeup and eat healthy meals, to buy that designer purse that I never knew I liked and drink water out of a goblet. Oh, how the simple things are no longer simple, but are beautiful and special pieces of life that make it that much better – simply because now I can actually receive and enjoy.
So I made the appointment and will go to the nail bar beaming with pleasure. I don’t need to suffer before that wall of bright-colored polishes, but I will peacefully choose what makes me feel happy and leave any others for my next mani. Yes, there will be a next. It’s not a matter of money, as it was always posed to be. For if next month happens to be financially tight, there will always be the next, and that lovely, nude polish will be waiting for me.
Danielle Oliveira is an musician, writer, and blogger of “The Beautiful Fight” where she shares inspiration and her own fight against depression as a source of hope for fellow fighters. She lives in Brazil with her husband, Lucas.
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Was it your parents’ example that have made you feel this way? What do you think it was about your upbringing that made you feel less confident in yourself? I can relate with some of the things you said.