“You can’t make decisions based on other people’s feelings. Sometimes you have to be selfish for your own good.”

This quote isn’t from a novel or an inspirational writer. It’s from one moment during an episode of the BBC British medical drama Holby City. It was spoken by the character Zosia March, who is one of my favourite characters in the show. I don’t watch it very often these days, but I used to watch it often enough to be able to extract this quote and be inspired by it.

Part of Zosia’s storyline is that she has Bipolar Disorder. For a time, she was absent from the hospital in rehab, but these days she is managing her mental health well, and is learning how to cope with it alongside her job, and is also gaining these little insights and inspirational lines which allow her to impart her wisdom onto others.

This particular quote resonated with me in terms of my anxiety. People with mental health problems can often be called selfish, but at the same time, we can be prone to neglecting ourselves because of how our mental health problems affect us so much. We switch off from ourselves and others, but others see that as possibly ignorant, self-absorbed or selfish.

In the past, nearly all of my decisions were based on other people’s feelings. A whole lot of my anxiety was caused by the very fact that I felt I needed to make these decisions and make the right one. For me, the turning point was connecting with myself again. There is nothing selfish about taking the time to think about what you need and what you want. Mindfulness requires us to sit down, alone, and concentrate on ourselves both physically and mentally. It is impossible to do that if you have other people distracting you or calling for your attention. If needs be, ignore them. Or tell them you need some space, even if it’s just for half an hour.

I’ve felt selfish many times. I’ve felt ignorant and full of excuses. I’ve felt like I wasn’t good enough, and that other people were the priority no matter what I felt. But here, I have to thank the writer of this episode for giving Zosia this line – even though I had already realised that it is a good thing to be selfish when we need to be, hearing this quote simply affirmed it for me, and gave me that extra bit of realisation to help me along the way.

The word selfish is wrought with negative connotations and meanings. Mental health is portrayed negatively and is surrounded by stigma despite the vast efforts of those people struggling with it first hand. These things need to change. Selfish can be a good thing. So for anyone reading this who finds themselves thinking about other people’s feelings and how that relates to your own decision making process, take a moment to think. Take a moment for yourself. Consider what would make you happy right now. If not happy, then simply content. Whatever needs to be done to ensure your own happiness and/or contentedness, then do it.

One step at a time, moment by moment, think of you. You matter, and you are most important. Everyone else can wait just a little bit, and if they can’t, then that isn’t your problem.

Originally published on my blog

Published by Jade Moore