My life is a daily battle against pessimism. This is not because I’ve had it that hard–in fact, I’ve probably had it easier and have been luckier than most people on this planet. It’s simply because my mind has a natural tendency to move in that direction, to sink into negativity and worry. This means it’s a constant, moment by moment, day by day effort to refocus myself on positive actions and thoughts. Frequently, this effort fails, and then I get back up and start over.

That’s why if I come to you because I’m sad and depressed, it really doesn’t help to tell me to “think positive!” or “choose to be happy!” Because chances are, I’ve already been working on that. I’ve been trying and trying and trying to do that, and it’s likely that by the time I’m coming to you for help, I’m ready to give up. So just give me a sympathetic listening ear. Let me talk about how I feel for a while. It will be a relief for me, and then I’ll be ready to go back to fighting my mind again.

It’s been a nice change to hear depression and mental illness discussed so openly and matter of factly over the past couple of days. It’s sad that it took the death of a wonderful and creative person for us to get here. But this might be a good first step to understanding that there are real ways to treat and address these problems–and that it’s not enough to tell people to smile.

One fine morning, I woke up and decided to love and accept myself just the way I am.  It was one of the worst decisions I ever made in my life.

I loved myself through long days of eating junk food and watching TV, until I became overweight and unhealthy.  I was too lazy to work out–well, what of it?  I was the type who liked to spend her day on the couch, and I accepted myself that way.  I accepted my unemployed self, too–not all of us are a good fit for a regular job, after all.  And who was I to force my special inner child to do things it didn’t want to do?  Anyway, I was going to be a writer.  Never mind that I wasn’t writing anything, forever waiting for inspiration to strike.  Truth is, I wasn’t doing a goddamn thing except mooching off my very patient family.  But to admit this would have meant being critical of myself.  And criticizing yourself was bad and mean.

So I loved myself right into sloppiness and mediocrity and low expectations.  And one day, I realized I didn’t like myself anymore.  And it was freeing.  I looked at my existence and thought “Um…I’m kind of a loser.”  It felt great to say this out loud.  Now that I was no longer delusional about who I was, I could start to work on my life and make it better.

I’ve come a long way since then, but I make sure to remind myself of that time once in a while, when it seems like my standards may be slipping again.  Not to get all New Age cheesy about it, but the Universe gave me a learning experience about just how pathetic I’m capable of being.  I have learned and I’ve moved on, but I will still say, in my best Grumpy Cat voice: “I don’t love myself…GOOD.”