I have them.
For a long time though I didn’t. Or rather, I did have them, but I couldn’t trust them. Depression, anxiety and losing confidence often go hand in hand. They did for me. I’d always been confident, but once depression hit, my self-esteem hit rock bottom. I found it hard to make decisions, to hold conversations, to stand up for myself, to put across my point of view. I doubted myself all the time with regard to pretty much everything. It’s taken a long while to recover from having my judgement corroded. Even now, I sometimes find myself wondering if I’m just being irrational. Its been hard to trust my thoughts and feelings again, but there have been a few things that have helped (and still help) me in this regard:
- Journaling – Putting my thoughts, feelings down on paper, helps me keep them in perspective. For me, journaling is a form of prayer. It’s a way to hand things over to God, to share them, to ask for help and then move on. Once written down, my thoughts are no longer swirling around my head, getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
- Honesty – I have a codeword that I use when I’m feeling irrational or down. All I have to do is say it to Matt and he knows that I need a little extra support, a little extra space, a little extra leeway. (Somber Scribbler wrote an excellent post about loving someone with depression. It’s well worth a read.)
- Reminders – It’s easy to forget the things I’ve got right, the things I’ve done well, so having reminders around me is really useful: photographs I’ve taken, stories I’ve written, scrapbooks of adventures, letters of encouragement, thank you cards, two beautiful children …
- Refocusing – It’s easier to focus on the bad stuff than on the good stuff, but I’ve learned to push away negative thoughts and turn to positive ones instead. I actually have a mental broom with which I sweep negative thoughts and memories from my mind.
- Getting out and about – When my self-esteem is low, the last thing I want to do is mingle, but leaving the house and being with people actually helps. Volunteering at school and church makes me feel useful and helps me see what I’m good at.
- Friendship – I have some lovely friends, and the fact that they seem to like me makes me feel better about myself.
- Studying – Learning new things shows me that I’m still capable and not a washed up waste of space!
- Time to Change
- Mind, the Mental Health Charity
- Black Dog Tribe
- Stress, Anxiety and Depression, NHS Choices
- YoungMinds, Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Wellbeing
An explanation of my AtoZChallenge theme can be found at Me and My Mental Health – It’s Time to Talk.
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