Self Hatred: You don’t have to be alone in the battle
This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, click here.
“People say to the mentally ill, ‘You know so many people think the world of you.’ But when they don’t like themselves they don’t notice anything. They don’t care about what people think of them. When you hate yourself, whatever people say it doesn’t make sense. ‘Why do they like me? Why do they care about me?’ Because you don’t care about yourself at all.” ― Richey Edwards
Self hatred is the intense disapproval of oneself. It is a constant battle between your outer self and inner. Self hatred diminishes one’s confidence to be active in the society around them. Self hatred does not stem from being jealous of others, but comes from a part of your brain that picks out every single flaw, ones that people cannot even see, but it feels like everyone is staring.
Living your life is a challenge in itself, but caring around the baggage of self loathing makes it feel like you have to carry around a whole other person. It is exhausting, draining, and feels defeating. You walk around feeling a thousand eyes on you, when in reality the only one watching what you are doing is yourself. It is demoralizing in the way that you criticize every step you take.
Self hatred leads to isolation. You don’t want to share yourself with the world because you don’t want to share your burden. Self hatred, in the worse scenarios, can lead to harm of oneself or suicide. The isolation may not be physical. You could be out in the world, hanging out with friends, yet still feeling utterly alone.
The symptoms of self hatred are not concrete. There are many forms that the monster of self loathing can rear its ugly head. Here are a few examples of how self hatred has been identified in the past. One misconception people have about self hatred is that it is purely physical (ie. you don’t like the way you look), and yes that is a big part of the issue, but a big chunk of what people suffer from is the fact that they don’t like themselves as people. These symptoms listed below are example of people who lower their standards in fear of failing and being hated by others. That is one of the biggest struggles with self hatred: you put yourself down because you don’t want others to hate you.
You are thinking about suicide, or fantasizing about what life would be like if you were no longer around.
Nothing seems to feel like fun anymore.
You feel worthless, guilty, sad, angry or disappointed with yourself, or just plain “bad.”
You feel tired all the time, or oversleep every day.You have headaches and aches and pains frequently.
You set your hopes low to decrease the chances of failing
You apologize for every little thing
You try to motivate your work using tough love
You place emphasis on the times you are wrong
You’re often envious of others
You should strive for greatness, even if you know you are going to fail. Failure is half the battle in improving yourself.
I, myself, struggle with self hatred. I am eighteen years old and could not despise myself more. I am a senior in high school and I am scared of what freshman think of me. Seniors are supposed to be confident and rule the school. I watch my friends strut through the hallways laughing and dancing with no cares in the world and I just wish I could be apart of that. It is not them who are excluding me from the fun, it is me. I feel like if I am not part of what they are doing for every second that it is happening then others will notice that I am a poser. I am not cool and that I do not belong. I go through my days with my head down. Scared to look up to see the judgement in front of me. I distance myself from others because I do not want them to get annoyed with who I am as a person. I lay in bed whenever I can so that the world cannot hurt me. I considered my bed my safe place, but in reality no matter where I am, even in my bed, I am still in pain. Why? Because I am the one inflicting it upon myself. I wish I looked different. I wish my thighs didn’t touch when I stand. I wish my arms were more toned. I wish I had a better work ethic. I wish I was funnier. I wish so many things that I know I will never be. I have been my biggest bully in my life so far. I go to weekly therapy because my depression and anxiety in social settings is so upsetting to me that I feel like I am about to have an out of body experience. I feel like I have no friends, even though my friends reinforce the fact that they love me. I constantly ask my boyfriend if he loves me and he gives me odd looks asking why I always am questioning it. But I guess I won’t ever be able to feel others love until I learn to love myself.
Depression is a extremely serious issue facing the world’s population today, but depression has seemed to target many young adults.
Everyone one hundred minutes a teen takes their own life.
Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.
About 20 percent of all teens experience depression before they reach adulthood.
Between 10 to 15 percent suffer from symptoms at any one time.
Only 30 percent of depressed teens are being treated for it.
The biggest challenge when dealing with self hatred and depression is that it is a mental disorder and does not show physical symptoms. In today’s world it is so easy to wear a facade and show a happy face, but inside you are crumbling to pieces. This is why we need to speak up. It is difficult admitting you suffer from a mental disorder because of the stigmas created around it, but sharing your story and releasing it from the inside is extremely therapeutic. But how can I encourage you to speak up, when you don’t know who will listen? Well, I am proposing to start a unique gathering of teenagers for weekly meetings. A safe space where you can let out anything you want. We are not alone in this world, there are seven billion people and counting who walk the earth everyday and I guarantee there is more than one person out there ready to listen to you with a loving and open heart.
I know we aren’t in elementary school anymore so it may seem odd to keep a diary, but don’t think of it like that. You don’t have to write Dear Diary you just need to empty your mind. When you are caught up in whatever is causing doubt, anxiety, or an uneasy feeling just write it down. Those feelings won’t just disappear and I am sorry for that, but you can’t bottle it up. Although talking to others about your feeling is healthy, sometimes it isn’t the same because you don’t get a response you were hoping for, but sometimes you can be your best listener.
Like everything in life, meditation takes practice. The first couple of times it will feel uncomfortable and your thoughts will swarm you, but as you learn to feel more comfortable with yourself meditation is a great way to remove yourself from the stress of the world.
- Support Groups
Talk to others who are going through the same thing as you. When you can relate to others on what you are feeling it proves that you are not the only one going through this battle.
4. Say “hello” to your inner voice
We have all noticed our little voice in our heads. It sometimes is encouraging, but for those who struggle with self hatred our inner voice has been aggressive and mean. So what you should do? When you begin to notice the critical thoughts trickling into your brain, stop, pause, and say something back. Tell your inner voice that it is flat out wrong. Take back what thoughts roam around in your head. Obviously this will not seem effective right away and it may seem awkward talking to yourself, but the more you do it the faster you will begin to believe it.
For the outsiders
When your peer is struggling with self loathing they won’t hear you say that they are loved. You need to repeatedly let them know that you are there for them, until they can finally open up to you. You won’t be the solution and I am sorry for that, only they can fix the thoughts in their head, but having a friend who is always there and reinforces the fact that they are not a burden means the world for people struggling.
- Plan activities
Think about what your friend or family member loves to do and do it with them! They may not look like they enjoy it or want to do it, but inside it makes them feel loved.
- Remember that what you are doing matters
Self hatred affects the person going through it the most, but that does not mean it doesn’t affect you too. Your friend may not always show their thankfulness, but inside they appreciate it. Going back to the first tip, patients is key. This is not a problem that will be solved overnight. It can be frustrating and saddening to you that they are not getting better, but do not put that on yourself. It is best to be honest and open rather than saying nothing at all.
4. Share your feelings!
A lot of the times we see something we find interesting or cool and give little compliments. We say to ourselves “wow thats awesome” or “she looks good today”. The next time you catch yourself having thoughts like these verbalize them! Nothing feels better or gives someone a quick boost of confidence when they receive a compliment out of the blue. If you like something, say something.
Whether you yourself struggle with the effects of self hatred or you know a loved one who does, suggest the idea of starting a support group. Go talk to a school professional and have them help you get together a group of teenagers who struggle with this. Like I said earlier, it is so impactful to hear that others are struggling with the same issues as you. Loneliness is one of the hardest things to deal with, but hearing similar stories to yours makes you feel a little less alone in the world.
Herbert, Kate. “A Letter To A Depressed, Self-Loathing Teen.” The Odyssey Online, 18 Oct. 2016, www.theodysseyonline.com/letter-depressed-self-loathing-teen.
“I Hate Myself: How Teens Can Improve Their Self Esteem | National Runaway Safeline.” Https://Www.1800runaway.Org/, 14 Sept. 2016, www.1800runaway.org/2016/09/i-hate-myself-teens-can-improve-self-esteem/.
Matthews, Kayla. “How to Tell If You’re Self-Loathing and What to Do About It.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Dec. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/kayla-matthews/how-to-tell-if-youre-self-loathing-and-what-to-do-about-it_b_6042452.html.
Powell-Lunder, Jennifer. “I’m Ugly, I’m Fat: Self-Loathing Among Tweens and Teens.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 15 Apr. 2014, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/lets-talk-tween/201404/i-m-ugly-i-m-fat-self-loathing-among-tweens-and-teens.