The Case For Befriending Our Depressed Self

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Can you be your own friend if you feel sad, hopeless, worthless, or fearful—and feel guilty for being depressed or anxious?

One thing a friend does is meet us where we are at. Friends are aware of our shortcomings and mistakes but accept and care about us anyway. They are there for us when we are at our best, and worst.

Naturally, we are stuck with ourselves on our best and worst days, but we can choose to see ourselves through a friend’s eyes. This means, despite how we feel, that we acknowledge being part of the amazing but flawed human race, so are just as deserving of acceptance as the next guy.

About Friends

Ask yourself the following:

  1. Do I care about my friends because they are they are perfect and never make mistakes?
  2. Do I spend time with my friends because they are always interesting and in a lovely mood?
  3. Do I keep my friends because the always say and do the right things?

If you answered “no” to those questions, there is no reason why you cannot befriend yourself, and cut yourself the same slack you do your friends.

(If you answered “yes” to those questions, you know some unbelievably amazing people, or you do not maintain friendships for long.)

Symptoms and Self Worth

We care about our friends because they have worth apart from their imperfections. We understand this about others but are reluctant to apply it to ourself. However, laying aside judgments and assessing from the heart, your worth and deservedness equals that of your friends.

Becoming less depressed, anxious, or bipolar has nothing to do with being a better or more worthy person anyway.

Reducing symptoms may involve taking medications and letting go of ideas, beliefs, and habits that are limiting. Sometimes we need to learn or develop skills, such as communicating more effectively. All these activities relieve symptoms but have nothing to do with personal worth.

Befriending Our Symptomatic Self

Befriending ourself, we offer support, encouragement, acceptance, challenge, comfort, and humor. This does not mean we always like everything about ourself, but liking and disliking are judgments. Friendships continue because we relax judgment.

When symptoms are intense, being a friend to ourself may mean deciding to tough out the day, or calling someone for support. It may mean going for a walk instead of collapsing in a chair. It could be eating an apple instead of a bag of chips, or going to a job interview though we feel terrified.

At other times being our own friend means forgiving the bag of chips we chowed down, or not condemning ourself for spending the afternoon slumped in a chair. For many of us, it means taking the medication we would rather not take, so we can think more clearly.

Sometimes it helps to ask, “What would a dear friend say or recommend to me right now?”

 
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