In my book, Valentine’s Day is one of the worst made-up holidays.
It focuses on coupledom and makes everyone else feel alone. Or at least that’s how I felt during my many years of singledom. Though I’m now married, I still resent the forced nature of the holiday. It somehow makes me feel if my husband doesn’t buy me a gorgeous piece of jewelry, a dozen red roses and a teddy bear for good measure he somehow must not love me. Well, he’s only done one or two of those over the years, and somehow I still know he loves me. He shows me he loves me every day in so many ways that have nothing to do with buying me something.
Frankly, the best thing he can do is the dishes.
I share all this because when you have a mental illness, the stigma around it can make you feel unlovable. And, I imagine on Valentine’s Day of all days, you might be feeling even more unlovable because there’s so much pressure on being loved on this special of all special days. I know on those days when I’m feeling depressed and those negative voices repeat and repeat in my head just how unlovable I am, that I wonder why my husband remains my husband.
This shouldn’t be a holiday only for romantic couples. There are so many different kinds of love. So, on this Valentine’s Day I’m going to reach out to friends and family and tell them how much I love them. And, especially to those I know with a mental illness. I’ve learned over the years that when I feel unlovable, the best thing I can do to make myself feel better is to love someone else better.
Maybe this year, you too can reach to someone with a mental illness and make their day just a little bit better. Not necessarily with roses or teddy bears. But with an act of kindness. Be Brave. It will help them feel less alone. And, you’ll be fighting the stigma we all feel.