Why You Should Help Yourself Before Helping Others
Let’s talk about something that gets ignored far too often: depression. Statistically speaking, around 1 in 10 people our age have experienced a period of major depression. Our school has about 1,600 undergraduate students, so around 160 students on our campus have likely suffered from this invisible disease. That’s more people than the number of students who work for our university Student Association, yet the issue is rarely discussed.
The question is raised of how effective one can be in serving others when suffering from depression themselves. Understandably, trying to focus on service for others can be difficult when suffering from depression yourself. However, focusing on yourself is necessary at times to make yourself a more helpful person to others. This isn’t me trying to be selfish or to tell anyone else to be either. This is about knowing what you need to do to make sure you are happy.
This is about service, the service we typically ignore: service to self. This is about not caring if you’re the only single person under the age of 30 at a wedding, so you can dance like a fool anyway. This is about walking up to that person at a student get-together that you’ve been dying to get to know, without caring about getting rejected. This is about that capital-T Thing, the one you’ve been dying to do for years, yet have always pushed it under the table because you don’t think you’ll be good enough, or you’re worried that your friends will tease you.
YouTuber Troye Sivan discussed in one of his videos the idea of becoming yourself and how it requires letting go of fear through embracing who you are: “I’m on the path to being a person that I’m equally terrified by and obsessed with: my true self.”
I’ve found it’s much easier to help others when I’m in a good state of mind. When I’m stressing about a paper that’s due or family issues, it’s really difficult to focus on anything outside my circle of stress. Taking time for yourself, working on one of your hobbies, or talking to a mental health professional are all healthy venues to help yourself, and in turn, help others. There are lots of local mental health resources in the valley, including free counseling on our campus. Taking time for self-service is vital, especially in an environment as stressful as college can be.
Although a state of mental health is not easily achieved if you are suffering from depression or another disease, making steps toward recovery can be life-changing. Even if you aren’t suffering with depression, finding the thing in your life that makes you unique can lead to more happiness in your life as well, and can therefore help you in your service toward others. So, cheers friends, and may you be as happy and focused in life as a kitten chasing a laser pointer.