I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard and or used this expression. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps might be the most common phrase out there when it comes to managing depression. It’s the call to action that we all believe will get us through our days.
And quite often, it does.
Last week, in writing a post about depression for another website, I decided to look up the original meaning of the phrase.
As it turns out, bootstraps are literally the loops in the back of boots that help you put your boots on.
Originally, I was thinking that they were those weird things that you had to use in the olden days, before elastic, to keep your socks from falling down. Or your panty hose. Which sounds awful. I mean as if panty hose weren’t bad enough.
Did I ever tell you that I was in a sorority in college and was rushed away one Sunday in the middle of the Steelers’ game and was PISSED that not only was I being torn from the game, but I had to put panty hose on for the ceremony?
Ask me about leaving the sorority to join the convent later…
The other definition for the expression is to get oneself out of a situation using existing resources.
I’ve often thought of the phrase as something that I had to do by myself - either by ignoring the way I really felt or trying to pretend that I was feeling better than I was. Either way, the onus was on me to just pull myself up by the bootstraps and grind out my day.
But what I love about that second definition, is the invitation to take advantage of the support around you to get out of a situation. It’s about tapping into your support network.
One of the best parts about working at Spurling is watching the community grow and bond. Clients are constantly rallying around other clients in good times and bad - they’ve supported one another through the sudden loss of a gym member - through hip replacements and back surgeries, and through chemotherapy treatments.
We want our community to be a resource for you. We want to help you celebrate the big wins on your journey and support you during the tough times.
Often, the hardest part about using an existing resource is trusting your vulnerability enough to ask. I think we can all appreciate how hard it can be to ask for help - to share that vulnerability with another person or people.
But just remember that the next time you feel that you need to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” that you don’t have to do it alone.