Self-care can look a lot different for people living with mental health issues than for those who aren't. For someone who lives with depression, for example, a seemingly small self-care activity, like brushing their hair, or getting a haircut, can be monumental. For someone with anxiety, just going outside, booking a doctor's appointment, or doing the dishes, can be a huge accomplishment. And while these things may seem mundane to anyone who has never experienced depression or anxiety, this is what self-care can look like for the 43.8 million adults who experience mental health issues in the United States every year.
Yet, for so many, the term "self-care" has translated to bubble baths, face masks, and glasses of wine. Michigan-based author Jenny Trout hoped to shed light on the other side of self-care in a series of tweets.
On Sunday, she took to Twitter to change people's perception of self-care for people living with a mental health issues by sharing the realities many of them face.
"A few short years of twee self-care tips has convinced mentally-well people everywhere that depression is something you can just wash off in a bubble bath," she wrote. "Tip: if a mentally ill person is talking about self-care, they probably mean brushing their teeth or making a sandwich. In my experience and from the stories of others, self-care is rarely a candlelit bubble bath with luxurious pampering."
Some people who struggle with mental illness may find that taking a bubble bath personally helps them and that's perfectly OK. But Trout hoped to challenge common perceptions many people have that self-care is simply about lovely and often luxurious things people can do for themselves. She pointed out that this misconception may occur because people who are mentally ill don't write think pieces about self-care as often as people who don't have a mental health issue do.
"If a bubblebath is your mental health self-care, there's nothing wrong with that and I've yet to say that there is. My issue is with the perception that self-care is always some sumptuous, instagram-worthy moment of beautifully staged decadence," she wrote.
Trout's initial tweet in the thread has been shared more than 840 times and has nearly 3,200 likes. Some users also responded to share their personal experiences with self-care and mental illness.
Self-care can mean different things for different people, but it's important that we acknowledge that accomplishing every day things really can mean a lot to those living with a mental health issue. Sometimes, for them, it isn't indulgent. It's necessary.
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