Your mother walks out of the bathroom; she just took a shower. You walk into the bathroom and notice the steam that settled onto the bathroom mirror; your reflection is foggy. You reach over clearing the mirror with the palms of your hands. Smiling you think, there you are. You don’t see yourself the same way you did a decade ago. Acne doesn’t bother you anymore; the pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads come and go. The weight you gained recently is in all the wrong places, but you’re well nourished, so does it really matter? Your hair is greasy and pulled into a messy bun, but you’ll wash it tomorrow; you don’t have to be put together all the time. With each passing day you’re growing into yourself and learning to love every aspect of the process. It isn’t easy, but you’re doing it.
Self-love, once associated with vanity has evolved over the last few decades. Today it’s associated with face masks, bubble baths, and anything that results from treating yourself. It’s more than a spa day however, it’s taking time for yourself when you truly need it and seeking healthy ways to grow. Self-love can be especially difficult for those with mental illnesses, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Individuals suffering from OCD experience unwanted, intrusive thoughts and find themselves engaging in “repetitive behaviors or thoughts that a person uses with the intention of neutralizing, counteracting, or making their obsessions go away” (International OCD Foundation, 2019).
Mitchell, a participant of an online forum, expressed his struggle with self-love asking, “how can I love myself if my own mind traps me in a constant state of chaos?” (Mitchell, 2018, para. 1). Physical aspects of self-love as previously mentioned can be completely meaningless if one does not take time to address the disarray that occurs within their mind. Mitchell shares his complex thinking:
“Thoughts like these flowed through my mind multiple times a day: What if I didn’t blow the candle out? What will happen to my dog? Does my boyfriend still love me? Do I still love him? What if the violent intrusive thoughts actually happened; what if I really hurt this person? What if I killed them? How will I survive in jail? How will I pay for a lawyer?” (Mitchell, 2018, para. 5)
Addressing everything that comes to mind can be difficult, particularly for an individual with OCD but, it is not impossible. The first steps involve accepting help when you need it. Psychotherapy can assist with organizing thoughts and unlearning maladaptive habits. Attending therapy alone, however, will not be enough. Individuals must commit to understanding themselves and fulfilling their needs. This includes simple tasks, such as eating enough or drinking enough water daily. Additionally, they must forgive themselves when they fall short of their standards. These are only a handful of instructions that assist with self-love; different methods work for different people (Khoshaba, 2012). Ultimately achieving a sense of self-love is a process anyone can achieve including those in struggle.
Davy, Karina. “THE OCD MIND.” How to Love Yourself Authentically and Sincerely, 25 Jan. 2016, theocdmind.blogspot.com/2016/01/how-to-love-yourself-authentically and.html
Khoshaba, Deborah. “A Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 27 Mar. 2012, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/get-hardy/201203/seven-step-prescription-self-love
Mitchell. “Loving Yourself When Your Mind Is the Enemy.” International OCD Foundation, 4 June 2018, iocdf.org/blog/2018/06/04/loving-yourself-when-your-mind-is-the-enemy/
“What Is OCD?” International OCD Foundation, iocdf.org/about-ocd/