How my Self Esteem affected my Mental Health1:14:00 PM
A few years ago I did a poem titled Insecurities which speaks about how we perceive ourselves and get used to the demons we have in our closets because they are all we have, it is about the ‘I’d rather have it bad and ugly than have nothing at all lifestyle we are hastily embracing’, it is about the life I lived before I accepted and began the healing process from my rape ordeal and the rejection I faced for having epilepsy and a mental health condition.
We all have some form of insecurity at any given point of our lives brought about by different things, some we put in motion, others we had no part in the planting yet we get a full dish on our table. I have learnt that is not about the insecurity or threat of that I should focus on but put my efforts in preparedness and holding the insecurity when it arrives. If you (and your life) were a building, would terrorists flatten you, would fire kill you and all your occupants? Do you have drill sessions every now and then? Do you know about the trends and latest terrorist moves and how are you countering them?
We have heard the term self-esteem over and over and we are always quick to point out so and so has low self-esteem but how is your esteem, how do you see yourself, how do you value yourself, what words, personalities, actions do you use to rank yourself? I am going to narrow in one low self-esteem and this is a major thing in the world we live in. Most of us are not comfortable in our skins and this effects the relationships we have (or do not have), the cycles we get ourselves into, the status we become comfortable with; mistresses, second fiddles and ‘side dishes’. We spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need to impress people who don’t care. Your outer might shine but people can smell low self-esteem from a mile.
Just like high self-esteem and positive energy produces fruit in those around us, low self-esteem doesn't just affect us but those around us. When we agree to be used and stepped upon, we are empowering abuse, neglect and even pain to other women and men whose husbands or wives we steal just to have someone by our side.
Our experiences may cause our esteem to go down. Having experienced rape and rejection from those around me because of my mental status, I did not value myself much and this heightened my depression and my suicidal thoughts were on an all-time high. I just wanted out and when out was not an option, I settled for anyone and anything. Parents and teachers the words you tell your children over and over may cost them their lives. I abused drugs and alcohol and this worked against my healing process, I have done things, I have said things, I have been things…let me take it to church now, if it wasn’t for God’s grace and purpose in my life, the Sitawa y’all know wouldn’t have been.
There are people whose esteem has led to anger issues, there are men to beat women to prove their masculinity because that’s the only way to feel worthy, women with a guy for everything; lunch guy, airtime guy, trips guy, official events guy, clubbing guy so that they can feel in control and not have one man hold them down. We become yes people even to things we know are wrong and we shouldn’t engage in because we want approval, because we want to be needed. Low self-esteem is like a deep dark bubble that if we are not careful can engulf us.
There are different ways to find healing and improve your esteem.
a) Make a personal decision and declaration; here are some that I use regularly (it seems like a joke at first but through time, I have saved myself a lot of heartache and disappointment)
- I am not my experiences, my experiences do not define me…I am a beautiful and powerful woman,
- I deserve more, I deserve better
- I may have been raped, rejected, and done so many unprinted things as a result but I am still here so I am worth something.
b) Work on both the inner and outer person
I know people who dress the best, have the most amazing presence but are rotting inside. That go home to cry themselves to sleep and since they have done so much they are all cried out, they self-medicate to get some sleep. Do not cover up your issue but work on it, no amount of make-up can cover up the constant need for approval and need to be seen or heard.
c) Enjoy the process
Once you acknowledge you have a problem and you need to fix it before it fixes you, be patient and enjoy the process. Many people write to me daily from all over the world to say they admire how brave I am and I have to admit, I didn’t start out brave. I had to learn the long and hard way that no one is perfect. That we are all constantly work in progress, our only control (or choice) is what is being worked on. I learnt that only Sitawa can decide if she wants to work on being the best alcohol and drug guzzler to mask the hurt and pain inside or if she wants to heal from the scars and move on. I chose the latter and never for once thought that I will win three awards and cash awards from that decision. I am still a work in progress in my faith, my mental health work, my managerial skills and my health. What decision (or choices) are you making today to focus on improving?
Yes you will fall on the way, you may get to a Red Sea and feel like the load is too much but that’s the stretch of self-belief you need to move to the next level of esteem. I love a common quote by Joyce Meyer, I am not where I ought to be but thank God I am not where I used to be, I am moving forward and heading back never…can you relate to this?
d) Be there before you get there
As you enjoy the process of building your esteem, align and associate with where you want to go without being fake. Egypt always has your room ready just in case you decided to go back and until you fill that space with where you want to be, you will always slide back to where you were. I have made some pretty bad turn and ended up where I was creating cycles that I almost became comfortable with. Read, network, pray, make a visual board/vision board (get tutorial from the blog). If you don’t break the cycle you will always go back and after a few rounds on that wheel you get accustomed to it and don’t try anymore
e) Get to the root and uproot it.
My esteem was lowed by my experiences but when I dug down and saw that I need to face those issues head on, I discovered Sitawa. I discovered a poet, I discovered a blogger, I discovered an award winner, I discovered a motivator, I discovered so much and everyday I am discovering new amazing things about her. I am no longer afraid or ashamed to be alone because I am at peace. I love my own company and look forward to days when I am not working and I treat myself. My health has improved, I haven’t had a seizure in a low time, my bipolar shifts are less and less severe and even less frequent, I know soon those will be a thing of the past too. I know my worth, my value, the worth of my time, my words, my actions and I guard all of them jealously because one day, all I wished for was some worth and value from anyone and anywhere.
It doesn’t matter where you have been, who you have been with, what you have done, what matters is how you see yourself and what you are going to do about what you see. Once you value yourself, you send out some vibe that brings Sunshine even to the darkest of your hours, I have experienced both worlds and I know I wouldn’t trade this side for anything, Heaven maybe.