Learning To Like Yourself When Suffering With Your Mental Health


I wasn't too sure if I should write this post. I'm not 'fixed' or 'cured' and I certainly don't 'love myself'. In fact, I'm 98% uncomfortable with what I look like most of the time. The thing is though, I don't dislike myself. I don't not like my personality, I don't not like my job and I don't not like myself ALL of the time. There are little moments where I can really appreciate myself as a person. I can look in the mirror and say 'Hey, I don't look half bad today' or I can think 'Haha, that was funny Hol' and that's what this post is going to talk about, I guess. 

I've spent so much of my life hating who I am. I've hated myself so much that I told myself I didn't deserve to exist anymore. I won't lie, I even have that thought every now and again now... but it's how I deal with it that has changed. In the past, I've isolated myself, I've tortured myself and I've let my thoughts tear me down. I've analysed every little thing that I've done or said, and I've basically channeled my brain to never let me like who I am.

If you suffer from a mental illness yourself, you'll probably understand this but, it's almost as if there's nothing that could ever make me truly love who i am, 100%. It's almost like no matter how hard I try, I'm always going to have those days where I miss the way I used to look at my lowest weight or I want to avoid any social interaction. It's like I've now programmed my brain to self destruct whenever I begin to feel low and, although nowadays, this 'self destruction' doesn't happen anywhere near as often as it used to, it certainly still happens - it's just the way that it is.

As someone who has always thought of themselves in a negative light, it's sooooo hard to change the way that I think about myself. 

I've always sought other people's approval, I've always wanted to 'fit in' and be 'liked'. In the back of my head, I always knew I was trying too hard, but that never stopped me. I told myself that if other people didn't like me or the way that I looked, then neither should I; I told myself that if I didn't fit the mold or if I didn't do what everyone else did, that I would always be alone. I basically brainwashed myself into believing that I was worthless and that no one could like/love the 'real me'. 

I've always hated my appearance - and when I say 'hate', I well and truly mean 'hate'. I mean that I've despised everything about myself - I couldn't look in a mirror or at a photo and find one positive quality, yet I'd stand in front of my mirror for hours on end and I'd just look at myself. I'd scroll through Instagram and find 'body inspo' and search how much celebrities weighed and compare them to my own weight. I'd grab my skin and imagine cutting my fat off with scissors, and I'd drink gallons of water and not eat anything for hours, which was the worst of all. I just could not like what I saw. 

I've always been a very controlling and organised person too. I've always wanted to know what time we're leaving the house or what time I'd be getting home. I'd need to know specifics and durations - how long something was going to last so that I could know what was happening afterwards. I keep things tidy and clean, and I get stressed if people move things from places or positions that I've placed them in - I can't be clear minded in a messy room. I became so controlling and obsessive about time and timings, that it took over my life. 

So, what changed? How come things are different now? How did I change the way I thought about things and myself?

I really just had to learn about 'irrationality'. I had to learn that my thoughts were irrational and learn to fight against them with the rational ones. 

I stopped seeking everyone else's approval. I learnt that the only person's approval I need is my own. When you learn to love yourself and be who you truly are, that's where true happiness and acceptance comes from. The more that you can be yourself, the more respect and love that people will have for you. People can smell desperation from a mile off - the more you are comfortable and relaxed with who you are, the more likely people are to be comfortable and relaxed with you too. I love my personality now. I love what I do. I love that I can be un-apologetically myself.

When I look in a mirror now, I can give you a list of a few things that I like: I like my eye lashes, I like my freckles, I like my long arms, I like my ginger hair and I like my blonde eye brows. Yes, of course there are definitely things I'd still like to change, but I'm working on them, and most people have the odd thing that they don't like, don't they? 
This was one of the more tougher things to change, but one day I just realised that I needed to start accepting myself because there's no such thing as a 'whole new person transplant'. There was never going to be a day where I'd wake up and look like 'Keira Knightly', I was always going to wake up and look like 'Holly White', and I needed to accept that. I also needed to learn about my disorders and what they were making me think and see. I learnt that my eating disorders were the ones causing the destructive thoughts and that it was always going to be quite difficult for me to understand my appearance because of Body Dysmorphia. I learnt to start listening to other people. I learnt to start taking compliments and trusting my body to just do it's thanggg. It's a long process, but it's slowly working. I definitely like myself a lot more than I used to.

The most recent thing I've learnt to do, is to just 'let go' a little bit. A mixture of Anxiety and OCD were taking over my life. I had a sacred routine that I couldn't break free from and I was over analyzing ever situation. One day I really just had to push myself and change things. I thought that by controlling timings and hiding away I was protecting myself, but really I was just causing myself more pain. I wasn't placing the responsibility for the pain on myself and my irrational thoughts, but instead placing them on the situations I was hiding from or the people who 'wouldn't co-ordinate' with my 'routine'.
It's weird to think that something that you think is protecting yourself, is actually causing you more problems and hurt. Something that we think is keeping us safe, is actually the thing that is destroying us. I think we should all think about that a little bit...

I think a good question to ask yourself is 'what is causing me to feel this way?' or 'what is causing me to hate myself?'. Think about the thoughts you're having, the emotions you're feeling and the way that you're acting and learn to understand where it's coming from. Where is the hate, the fear, the depression, the anger coming from? Once you detach yourself from your own situation, it's so much easier to figure out. Try giving yourself advice as if you were giving it to someone else.

It does make me feel incredibly sad to think that I will most likely spend the majority of my life dealing with different aspects of different illnesses, but at least I know how to deal with them and why it's happening. I find it so helpful to ask myself those questions and to really think about whether I'm being rational or irrational. I also love writing things down, getting my thoughts out on paper or in a blog post - it helps clear my mind and see all of my thoughts clearly in front of me.
At the end of the day, the more you realise that your thoughts and feelings are false, the more you can push yourself and learn to be who you are.
So, continue to step away from situations and look at them with an outside point of view - what advice would you give your friend in that situation? Write things down, talk to someone and realise that you're a good person who's worth the fight. Do not allow the darker days to suffocate you, as much as it feels like they completely could. Pick yourself up and tell yourself that you're going to be okay, because you will be. It takes a lot of time to reprogram our brains into thinking rationally again, especially when it's been years of irrational thoughts, one after the other, but it does eventually happen and it's most uplifting feeling.

"Worry about loving yourself instead of loving the idea of other people loving you."

If you ever need a chat or someone to confide in, you guys know that I'm here, but if not then here are some helpful phone numbers and websites below:

Mind Info-line: 0300 123 3393 or text 86463
Samaritans: 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
Cruse: 0808 808 1677

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  1. What a touching and beautifully written post. I remember feeling like this often in high school, I certainly wasn't popular, and I didn't feel beautiful inside or out. Counselling really helped me, as well as just learning to accept myself whilst I grow. My mum always told me I was her pretty little lady, and I remember going all rosy cheeked when she said so. I think at the moment I'm at a somewhat good place, but I'd really like to work on my self-esteem and confidence issues x


    1. Thank you so so much.

      I'm really glad to hear you're in a good place. I hope that as you keep working on things, that you truly grow to love who you are! xxx

  2. An amazingly well written and thought provoking post, thank you. I hope more good days are coming your way.

  3. Great post, Holly. I think throughout our teen years and early twenties we definitely face a lot more pressure in regards to our appearances. It's important to wake up every morning and accept what you have, learn how to love your quirks. It doesn't happen overnight (that's for darned sure.) When I was in middle school there was a boy who did a speech on Gingervitus (from the Show south park) and it was targeted at me, the only ginger in the class. I instantly hated my hair and how they were laughing at me... but now that I'm older I realize that we're lucky to have such natural, beautiful and unique hair.

    It takes a lot of work, but eventually we need to accept what we have. There's no point in dwelling on what we don't as it will just make us feel worse. I sincerely hope that there comes a day when you wake up and realize that you are perfect the way you are. That you have wonderful unique features others don't.

    Lindsey Elyse | lindseyginge

    1. Thank you so much Lindsey. We definitely do.

      I'm so sorry to hear about that awful person targeting you - people can be so cruel! But, you're right, we're lucky to have our ginger hair! You're wonderful and unique too :-)

      Lots of love xx

  4. I can completely relate to this amazingly written post. I often find myself focusing on all my flaws and feeling rubbish about myself to the point of hate. But I am, like you, trying to learn to love myself and focus on the few things I do like about myself. I now understand how irrelevant and unimportant other peoples views of me are, I just need to focus on my own view of myself.
    Thanks for such a lovely post,
    Katie x

    1. I'm so glad to hear that you're learning to love who you are - that's amazing! Focus on you! So glad you like the blog post :-) xxx

  5. Thank you for writing this. I suffer from mental illness as well. I had it for all my life and suffered many obstacles because of it. 10 years ago my oldest daughter revealed my then husband ( we had been together 10 years also at that point) had been molesting her. I called 911 and our lives were forever changed. A month later my dad passed away unexpectedly in front of me and I was already so devastated I didn't know what to do. My kids were safe and supermom took over and things got worse in my mind. I struggle now with severe anxiety and panic attacks, ptsd, OCD and depression more then before and its hard not to isolate myself from everyone but my kids. I can perform in front of a million people with no fear but to be in a group or crowd or public environment I'm so uncomfortable and nervous. I'm trying to figure out a new way of life because this way isn't working. It's hard because not many people understand what feeling these feeling are like or if they do they don't want to admit it. I've never wanted to be anyone else in my life. I too love my personality and who I am. I just want to have a quality life because it's too short and I want to be proud of the legacy I leave. Xoxo much love and peace to you always ♡♡♡

    1. I'm so sorry to hear that you had to go through all of that. It's definitely difficult for people who have not been through it to understand. It's lovely to hear that despite everything, you adore yourself - that's amazing! We all deserve a great quality of life though - you will definitely feel that one day! Lots of love xxx

  6. Many of the biases regarding mental health are inbuilt or are passed on from one generation to another.


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