“…if doing something selfless makes me feel better it doesn’t take away the good deed…”
**Trigger warning for suicidal thoughts**
**This post includes suicidal ideation**
When I found myself in my Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) group about a week ago I discussed that every day I try and do something selfless such as giving up my seat up on the bus or buying coffee for a homeless person. I discussed the bigger charitable things I do like fundraising for local animal shelters, publicizing other charitable donations, speaking at mental health rallies, and my work in the media. When I talked about these parts of my life I found a little bit of a dark cloud hovering over me. Of course, I love to help other people and I’m a firm believer in killing with kindness and selfless living but I found one of the biggest reasons I practice all of these charitable things was to prove to myself that I deserve a spot in this world. I believe if I make someone’s day a little better every day than there’s a reason I’m alive today, there’s a reason I survived.
“Being selfless gave me a sort of confidence in myself and in humanity. There is always something that connects us all as human beings and that’s something to cherish.”
My family and friends always joke around saying that when you meet me you will only have one of two reactions…you will love me or hate me. I don’t believe in lying, gossiping, or judgement so when I talk to people I tend to be honest and try not to project biases. As someone who practices selflessness in his everyday life, I often get the people who look at me as if I do charitable things for praise, validation, and I’m only a mental health advocate to complain about my own life. I’ll admit that I often write blog posts with validation in mind but this isn’t a bad thing because I’m not only looking for validation of my own thoughts and feelings but the validation of yours. I find it’s sad when people don’t like me because of the work I do, being selfless isn’t something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. On the other hand, I get people who instantly love me and think I’m an angel. They put me into a box of a superhuman who is happy and kind to all, but the truth is that I suffer from suicidal ideation on a daily basis. No one is perfect.
I do selfless actions as much as I can because it helps my suicidal ideation. I think that if I make someone’s day a little brighter every day then I have earned my place in society and it gives me a purpose. When I was at my lowest point even a random smile from a stranger made me feel better so I try to give that back. I pray that telling my story and by doing good deeds I will stop someone from doing something dangerous to themselves or someone else. Being selfless is a coping strategy and it’s the best one I’ve found to date. I know that in the big picture I’m selfless to help myself which ends up making me selfish but when I brought up this strategy in DBT, someone mentioned that if doing something selfless makes me feel better it doesn’t take away the good deed, therefore, being selfless or selfish are one in the same – and that’s ok.
Not only is being selfless a coping strategy but being selfless makes me a better and more confident person. Since I spent my adolescence in the hospital I never got the chance to go to high school or any type of big social event so I never got the chance to learn how to interact with others which comes off very obviously when I’m working or if I just met someone. I often have a shaky voice and I look like a turtle hiding in his shell, but when people ask me about my charity work I get a surge of motivation and inspiration to talk about my passions and share them and not only do I get to share my side of the story but more than often people connect with me and share theirs. Being selfless gave me a sort of confidence in myself and in humanity. There is always something that connects us all as human beings and that’s something to cherish.
No one is the perfect human being and everyone has something in common so acting as a selfless person is something that is pre-programmed into us as a society. Being a mental health advocate doesn’t just mean speaking out and telling our stories but listening to others and admitting to our own faults. I’m selfless but I’m also suicidal and that’s my personal reality. I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t bother me when people roll their eyes when I talk about homeless animals but I’m also not going to judge that person because assuming the best in people brings out the best in us.