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I was in graduate school at the University of Texas, studying to become a psychotherapist. Before that, I had spent many hours volunteering as a suicide hotline counselor. My counseling skills might have helped others, but they did me little good. Depression stalked me, and with it came its cavalry: anxiety, rumination and insomnia.

My mind fixated on exquisitely small flaws, like the dirty floors in my rental. In the weeks after I moved in, I fumed about the landlord’s reneging on her promise to have the floors professionally cleaned, and I hated myself for not demanding it in writing. In turn, I loathed myself for stressing over the dirty floors so much, and for being unable to stop.

Night after night this cycle repeated itself. Finally, I would fall asleep, only to wake up a few hours later bathed in such intense self-hatred that I couldn’t stand my life. I would look at the floors and a fresh wave of revulsion washed over me. I felt panic. How could anyone ever love me like this?

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Image via NYT Jon Krause

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