Love Your Neighbor, Love Yourself.

“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.

Leviticus 19:18

I’ve had this verse in my head all day today. All day. Honestly, you’d think I would have thought about putting it in my blog sooner… Sadly, that’s not quite how my brain thinks. Better late than never, I suppose.

I remember being in youth group not too long ago, and the youth pastor kept talking to us about loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. He would tell us that he knew it was difficult, and kept referencing that one time when Jesus said giving a thirsty man a drink of water was giving Him a drink of water. Or something along the lines of that… And I couldn’t help but think about how WRONG he was.

Before you burn me at the stake, hear me out. For some people, giving anything they have to someone else is like trying to paint the sky a dark shade of green. Meaning that if it happens, not only is it a surprise, something probably happened to them. Probably something unexplainable, really. There’s nothing really wrong with this at all. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with it. Nothing is wrong with giving something(s) to others, either.

What about the people who don’t love themselves at all? Are we supposed to just not love others, too? Are we supposed to just treat them how we treat ourselves? What do we do?

I’ll tell you what we actually do: We give them everything. You want my shirt? Okay. Oh, my lunch? Of course! I’ll even bring extra for tomorrow. Do you want me to get you some water? You borrowed my pencil? Keep it, you probably need it more, anyway.

Now, look, I’m not telling you I’m perfect. As a matter of fact, I need God and His Son so much. I’m so imperfect it’s not even funny. So, so imperfect, guys! All’s I’m saying is that I know how it is to just not love yourself as much as you should. Or could, or would if something was different. But it’s not. And nobody realizes that.

Depression makes people love themselves less. Anxiety makes people love themselves less. Self-harm, self-hate, any mental health problem really makes you love yourself less than you love others. I don’t know what God thinks about this, but I can tell you my youth Pastor’s reaction.

I remember him asking me how hard I found it to love others how I love myself. I took that to mean that I love others more than I love myself… When I explained to him that I found no difficulty with it, I didn’t include myself with depression, (at that point, I didn’t know I struggled, ), but I told him I knew people who did struggle with it. I explained that they didn’t love themselves at all, but they could love others with everything they had.

He was floored, speechless, baffled. I wish you could have seen his face when I spoke my mind since it’s so hard to explain. I don’t think he realized that some people don’t struggle with loving others, that they struggle with loving themselves.

However, I realized that I answered him incorrectly. If I could go back to that day, I would answer like this:

I could never love another human being like I love myself, I shouldn’t even love me like I love myself. Everybody, including myself, deserves to be loved so much better, to be loved so much more. It’s difficult to love yourself, sometimes. You see every flaw, every imperfection, everything terrible about you and swirl it around in your head all day long.

No breaks, no stopping.

It’s like you can’t even control your own head, when that shouldn’t even be a problem.

Loving yourself for some is just like loving your neighbors for others; it’s a project, something you have to force yourself to work at. It’s a project for me, to say the least. Do you know what it’s like to yell at the mirror, trying to convince yourself that you’re actually gorgeous? Or what it’s like to look at yourself, tears streaming down your face, hearing over and over again in your head how you’re not good enough? Maybe you know what it’s like to look back and realize how broken you actually are?

I pray to God every damn day that you don’t.

I don’t know how that minuscule speech would be taken, and I probably won’t ever know. I feel better having said it, though, which makes every word worth it.

For whatever it’s worth, especially for those of us who can’t love ourselves like we deserve to be loved, please realize that God loves you. He loved you before you even existed. He’s loved you for forever. God loves each and every one of His children INSPITE of anything. He may not agree, which is neither here nor there, but that has nothing to do with how much He loves you. His love for you is greater than the number of stars. And which of you can number the stars?

This is one girl’s madness.

Part of My Story

Trigger Warning.

Do Not Read if sensitive to depression and/or mentions of suicide.

As I sit here struggle a bit tonight, all I can think of is how certain people in my life would tell me how I’m exaggerating, making a big deal out of things, or even trying to get attention.

And maybe I am.

But, sadly, ignoring my problems only make them worse. I have to talk about it or else I get worse. So, here’s part of my story.

May 2016 I lost two people to suicide. I remember the day I found out. Honestly, I remember doing that thing they do in the movies. Ya know, the one where the main character hears something tragic, but blocks out the next (and just as important) piece of information. I did that… My family and I went to say our goodbyes, and I could tell you the exact spot on our way home where I changed.

At that time, I thought it was for the worst, but it wasn’t.

For the next eight months, (at least), I thought I was fine. I would tell you I was fine. However, I was crying all day, crying myself to sleep… Everything but fine. I didn’t tell anyone, either. The four months after that, I still cried a lot, just a little less than the prior eight months.

October 2017 I started watching Supernatural. Yes, that very popular TV show staring Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, and Misha Collins. I was almost seventeen.

I immediately connected myself with Dean Winchester. The first time I have ever felt so connected to a character. Dean just spoke to me on a level that no other character had ever reached. With no idea, I just pushed the thought to the back of my mind.

March of this year, 2018, a friend from my past came into my present. Said friend had been known to play with my emotions, and I talked with my mother about it. She said I had been off for a while, at least a week or two.

So, I made myself pay attention to my actions for the rest of the day. I wasn’t eating, I was sleeping way too much, and I was beyond moody.

Not too long after that, I was on my pinterest scrolling through my main feed. Yes, just my main feed–I hadn’t searched anything. Up pops a quote from an interview Jared Padalecki did about his Always Keep Fighting Campaign.

I had never heard of it before, so I looked into it some more. As it turns out, it was about Jared and his fight with depression (Jared, please forgive me for talking about it if that’s something you don’t appreciate…). But because Jared started talking about his fight, I figured that, even though I, too, have loving family and friends, and a generally happy life, I could struggle with depression.

After a quick Google search, and some real help, I do struggle with depression. It’s a bit odd, really. I never thought I could, but I could and do.

So, Jared Padalecki, if you’re reading this (which is so so doubtful), I hope you not only don’t mind part of my story, but don’t mind the fact that you’re a huge part of it. Thank you so much… Honestly, bless you.

Thank you to everyone who has, and will, stick by my side. You’re a huge part of why I can open up about this. You’re my support. Thank you.

Saving the best for last, God. I give it all to you. Thank you, Lord.

Now, dear reader, I don’t want you to think of this article as my attempt to share my woes. I don’t want the attention, I loath it. Take from this article to fight for happiness. To keep going even though it’s rough. To realize that depression is a ruthless torturer- she doesn’t take prisoners. You are worth so much, reader. So much. Please remember that I didn’t take the time to write this just for me. I took the time to write this for you.. So you’ll know that you’re worth it. Please remember that for me.

This is one girl’s madness.

You. Are. Amazing.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t take a complement. As a general rule, I smile and say “Thank you”, but that’s what I have to do. What I really want to do is argue with them.

You think I’m pretty? Let me tell you why you confused me for a mirror again.

You think I’m awesome? Let me tell you my flaws.

But… When I complement someone else, I make sure they believe that I’m telling the truth, regardless of their argument against it. They need to know that I mean it with everything I’ve got.

You don’t think you’re the best? Listen up, I have prepared a speach.

You think you’re a terrible person? Oh, hun, give this a second thought. How can you be such a terrible person? Look at all the good you’ve done!

It’s an odd line to walk, but it’s one I feel like a lot of us walk. It’s hard to believe someone else when your head is telling you something else… But at some point, you have to tell your head that it’s wrong.

That you are beautiful, kind, smart… All of the good things people tell you that you are, you are. And, to make yourself believe it, you have to say these things to yourself. Say them out loud, in your head, whisper them, scream it to the sky…

It doesn’t matter how you say it, as long as you say it. Because soon you’ll believe it. And that’s what’s important.

Honestly, I scream at the mirror. Well, maybe saying ‘scream’ is a a bit exaggerated, but I at least yell at the mirror. I yell that I am pretty, and smart, and capable, and so much more… Just because I feel that, by yelling at my reflection, I can fight the battle in my head much better. It’s weird, but hey, it works.

Well, that’s one girl’s madness.