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I’ve told my stories of depression and suicide many times. I even work as a suicide-prevention professional now and it seems like it’s easy for people to look at me and think that I’m doing well. And while that’s not untrue, it may surprise some to know how often I still struggle. Depression, for me, is a lifestyle-consuming disease.

A lot of time and energy goes into making it through the day when I am in such a deep darkness. I get this inescapable, highly self-critical, circular, and hateful inner-dialogue. It keeps me from any kind of self-praise, from healthy interactions with people in my life, from any kind of motivated or productive work – even something basic like taking out the trash – and, most of the time, from even getting sleep. It’s a cement block that can stack on me day after day. It wears me down and makes me feel invaluable and ashamed until I just don’t have the energy to fight back.

So after my suicide attempt and years of struggling with depression, I have found some pretty reliable ways to give myself a strong dose of self-love during my darkest moments. It’s nice to get words of encouragement from people in my life, but there is just not quite anything like loving myself. When I can find the time and energy to sit down and fight back against those negative thoughts it is really rewarding and helpful.

I look at myself in the mirror. I look myself right in the eyes and praise myself, even if it seems forced or difficult, I praise. I love and I cherish and I stay mindful that no matter what my goals are to be in the future, this is the me right now and in order to be a vehicle for change in my own life, I have to accept and love – this is me! It is not always easy to push through those negative thoughts, though, and sometimes I don’t have the energy so I have created affirmations for myself on days that I need some passive self-love.

Above my bed I have hung several positive affirmations. Things like, “you are beautiful”, “you are kind”, “be kind to yourself”, and “you are not alone”. I can look at these whenever I want and am forced to see them every morning when I wake up just to know that I wrote those about myself because they are true and because I am valuable. I even asked a couple of special people in my life to write a few for those really bad days and it truly does help me to feel less alone. It has taken time, and some days I turn my back to those words, but when I really need some self-love it is already out there in the universe, I just have to open my eyes.