From a young age children are taught to be gentle with others. To respect feelings, challenges, personalities, struggles, and everything else that make up the individuality of all other beings. We remind children to share their toys, to be kind to others, and to behave. We give children a set of rules and standards to live by. We do our best to make them “good kids,” and yet more and more we see the dark struggle of humanity around us.
Woven into the regular stories of crime, hate, war, poverty, politics, and economic statuses there are the many stories of death. Stories of death at the hands of others, and more and more commonly death at the hands of oneself. The rates of depression amongst people have grown as the years have gone by. A “silent killer” I have heard many call it; a “secret disease”. The shame and solitude around depression as well as its many causes have been a sensitive and taboo subject for a great many years.
The recent passing of renowned comedian and actor Robin Williams who suffered from depression for most of his life has brought more light to the subjects of depression and suicide than has been shone on it in a few years. It is sad to think it takes a tragedy to open those communication channels. Reflecting on Robin’s passing stirred many thoughts and emotions in my mind and I began to think about somethings my dear friend and I have discussed at length over the last few months, especially in those moments where our own anxieties and depressive moments have kicked in.
We are always told to be kind to others, to be gentle with others, but why so often do we neglect ourselves? We forget to remind ourselves and one another that we must ALWAYS be gentle with ourselves. We must respect our own individual needs as beings first and foremost, whatever your role in the world is. If we are not gentle with ourselves, if we can’t fulfill ourselves respectfully, we can’t ever be there for others, and that includes being there for our children and our spouse, being present and fully active in our marriages and relationships with others.
Remind your own self to be gentle and others you may see struggling to be gentle to themselves as well. This concept is hard, but find a way that works for you – to bring that into focus each and every day, throughout the day. That constant reminder when things start to get bumpy to just, ‘be gentle’.
For my best friend and I this struggle is daily and sometimes hourly and with us being many hundreds of miles and many states apart we can’t always be right there for each other when that road turns a bit rocky, so this week while she was out visiting me we designed this tattoo together which we both had placed on our forearms. The constant reminder to be gentle with ourselves. The constant reminder of the love another person holds for me despite all my struggles. The constant reminder that we are enough, we are capable, we are strong even when we are weak, and we can do it all if we just remember to have love for ourselves as well.
Depression has a way of stealing fulfillment, joy, and love in all the worst ways, leaving you feeling isolated and alone. It is hard to pick yourself up some days and to keep trucking along. It’s easy to feel hopeless and abandoned and like you have no one to turn to. So in those moments of hate. Of self doubt, destruction, insecurity, fear, and any other emotion, remember that you are always worth it, you always matter, and even if no one else in the world will, remember to BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF.