self love


Valentine’s Day 2023

by Heather Loeb

Yesterday one of my columns ran about loving yourself and being your own Valentine. Sometimes I tend to give good advice but not always follow it myself, but this time I really mean it — I love and appreciate myself. Do I treat myself badly at times? Sure. I’m very bad at self-talk right now, but I catch it and tell myself something nice. But I’ve learned to appreciate myself, and my body, for who I am, who I was and who I hope to be.


Here’s a little snippet from the column, “Valentine’s Day has never been my favorite holiday. Until my marriage (10 years ago), I wasn’t a fan — of love, any possible paramours and especially of myself. 

What a shame. I feel like I’ve missed out on something huge. My chest tightens, and regret fuels tears. I didn’t care for myself back then. I believed what poisonous lies others were saying about me and didn’t notice how they replaced the words of my inner monologue with theirs. My body dysmorphia formed and, shortly after, my eating disorder. It’s more complicated than that, but I didn’t see a connection. ” 

It’s so true. I believed others who called me fat. From that I understood I was worthless, ugly and stupid because that’s what society tells you, right? I was first called fat in the 5th grade then on and off until my senior year in high school. I was held captive by the scale and even now I still get caught in its trap.

But. A powerful but. Now I know I’m not fat. I wasn’t fat then (fat isn’t something you are, it’s something you have). I wasn’t ugly, stupid, lazy or anything close. I was me, listening to the wrong people, not celebrating myself as I should have. And I really should have because I am amazing. I took me about 38 years and a six-week hospital stay to figure it out, but that’s okay, because I did. Now I’m living the best years of my life.

And now, during this month of self-love, I appreciate myself, all of me. How far I’ve come, the accomplishments I never thought possible and the lofty goals I’ve set because of that.

Just a few years ago I couldn’t get out of bed or shower because of my major depression and anxiety. I was a bare minimum mom and wife. I counted down until I could go back to sleep, and when I was awake, I was in so much misery. Thank God I’m not in that place anymore.

Gratitude is a huge part of my journey, even when it comes to loving and accepting myself.

I want to thank y’all, too. For reading my columns, blogs, dropping me a note, showing up to NAMI events or just sending good vibes my way. I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know. You are a big, wonderful part of my recovery, and I love that.

And I love me.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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The unReal World

by Heather Loeb

Depression and anxiety are liars.

Now, I consider myself a somewhat-smart person, but there are times when it’s hard to determine which of my thoughts are the lies. Sometimes, I can tell the difference, but my stupid brain chooses to believe the lie anyway.

Lies, such as:

I’m a loser
I’m ugly
I’m fat
I make too many mistakes
I’m a bad mom
Nobody likes me
I’m a bad writer
I should just die

Why is it so much easier to believe the bad things than good?

The problem with this flawed thinking is that if you think these things too much, you start to believe them.

My anxiety is just as bad as my depression, telling me that something bad is going to happen and that I should be worried. For example, my husband and I got into an argument on Monday and my thoughts were racing, telling me that my husband was going to leave me, that he didn’t love me, that he resents me for being sick, etc. I made the argument out to be bigger than it was, and I eventually became borderline-hysterical.

It ended up fine, but I’m just worried that one day I’ll be full-blown hysterical and say or do something I don’t mean, because depression and anxiety are liars.

Not only are they liars, but they steal precious time from me — time away from my husband, kids and friends. I constantly talk about my feelings, moods, etc. and I hate to say it, but a lot revolves around how I’m feeling. Thankfully, my husband helps me quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t resent me for it.

I wonder if I will ever be at a place in my life where my mental disorders don’t totally own me and everything I do. And maybe I have a part to play with that because I do write about mental illness quite a bit, but I feel like I’m helping people — and myself.

In the world I live in now, there’s so much darkness and self-hatred. I know that if I do want things to change (things I can control, anyway), I have to do the work. I can change the way I think, right? I can turn negative into positive and criticism into love.

Because I don’t want to be a prisoner of my own brain anymore. I want the world I live in to be a happy one, where I can see that I’m beautiful, smart, kind and a good writer — one that (hopefully) helps others who are hurting just as badly. I want to be a good mom, one that takes care of herself as much as she takes care of her children. I want out of the muck, out of the unReal world where I’m a loser and all my bad decisions and embarrassing moments aren’t playing on a loop in my head.

Surely, I’m not the only one who does that?

So, what I’m going to do is repeat one affirmation about myself every time I say something negative. I’m going to start with these:

I love myself.
I am smart, capable and beautiful.
I can do hard things.
I choose to see myself through my loved one’s eyes. I am loved.
Give yourself some grace.
These are temporary feelings, you won’t live with them forever.

Do you have any affirmations you’d like to share? Drop them in the comments, and as always, stay in the light.

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