One Day At A Time
by Shanna S.
As a young girl and through my adolescence into young adulthood I struggled with self-esteem. I wasn't just lacking it but it was non-existent.
Months ago I became desperate tired of my depression, anxiety, and strong criticism of myself. I would barely leave my apartment and I would go out of my way to avoid social situations. When I did go out I was very self conscious and uncomfortable.
I struggled with my body image as well, even though by health standards I was a little under weight I felt like I was fat, I became obsessed with my weight and I bordered an eating disorder which was scary.
It all seemed to originate when I was younger. I grew up with a mother who had an unfortunate life of her own and although she did do her best to raise us she had so many problems including fighting several addictions to drugs and alcohol and struggling with severe mental illness.
She never had any self-esteem so she didn't know how to teach us how to love ourselves. My father was absent since I was six months old and when he got visitation with us he was very abusive with me and my sisters, which I feel has scarred me in many ways.
Then at the age of nine I was diagnosed with a pain disease known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or more commonly referred to as Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome. I lost the ability to walk at the age of 9 until I was 14 almost 15 years old.
In so many ways it stole my childhood especially because I was such an active child prior to being injured. This caused a lot of turmoil and pain for me. I lost a lot of friends and chances at social interactions with my peers. I became very withdrawn within myself, hiding away from the world feeling like an outcast. All my self-esteem issues seemed to become apparent at the age of 9 and they only got worse with age.
At age 20 my lack of self-esteem and almost full on hate for myself and who I had become was in full force and it ran my life. I was being ruled by my insecurities and fears. I slipped into a deep depression. I had given up on my hobbies and all things that I was passionate about.
Everyday I would sit inside and obsess about myself, the way I looked, the way I felt, even how I thought. Even worse I noticed that my self-esteem issues were taking a toll on the people around me who cared about me, especially my fiance.
He just wanted me to be happy but he couldn't understand how I hated myself so much and he didn't know what to do to help. I knew if I didn't do something I would most likely lose him.
Then one day I was online surfing the web looking for answers, "How could I turn this downward spiral around? How could I change the way I saw myself? And most importantly how can I learn to love who I am inside and out?" I knew that if I didn't find help I would never be okay and I would waste my life away in isolation and fear.
Well the first thing I ran into was this website. It seemed to be a godsend. I read through it and even signed up for the newsletter. I was amazed at how this website seemed to be just what I needed.
It had so much helpful information that actually made a lot of sense to me. I knew however that just reading the helpful tips that Zoltan Roth had so kindly put on here wasn't going to fix me like magic.
I had to make a commitment to myself and stick to it. I had to change the way I thought and how I perceived things.
It wasn't easy by any means and I still struggle somewhat but it is getting easier every day. I applied all the helpful hints into my day to day life.
I started simple by looking in the mirror in the morning and instead of criticizing every little thing I hated about
myself I picked one thing I liked about myself and when ever I was feeling down and crappy during that day I would remind myself of that one thing.
From there I moved forward trying to do more positive and productive things to build myself up. Working out has been a big one. It makes me feel good, so I stuck with that at least 4 times a week. I did many other positive activities that you can find by surfing this site. They all were very helpful.
Eventually my depression began to subside even though I sometimes have had bad days and still do (everyone has bad days)so try not to get discouraged when that happens because during this process it will happen.
I got back into my hobbies doing things I love that I seemed to give up so long ago. Which included reading, writing, drawing, dancing, and singing. I realized that by giving up things I was passionate about only made my lack of self-esteem worse, everybody needs something to love and enjoy. Something that brings you satisfaction.
I am happy to say I am starting to believe in myself again and even am working on a novel (writing has always been a passion of mine). It is a great release for me.
One thing I had noticed about myself that was a big problem was how I used to begin projects or start something but would lose faith in myself half way through telling myself that I would fail before I gave myself a chance to make a mistake.
I was so afraid of making mistakes or being judged or criticized by others that I didn't even try. Well all that is over for me because I know that it will get me nowhere but stuck in the same place forever.
I so badly want to move forward and I now know that making mistakes is normal and it is okay. Mistakes are made to learn from, just another bump in the road to overcome.
For the first time I am beginning to believe in myself and I made a commitment to finish the novel and keep pushing forward. I am already thirty pages in and it is exhilarating. For the first time in my life I know I can be happy, and I will be.
If I could give any advice to those who struggle with self-esteem I would say first you need to be willing to take it One Day At A Time (hence my title) and be patient with yourself, and NEVER give up even if it feels like the hardest thing you ever have done, because all your hard work will pay off and it will be so worth it.
Some things I learned are that every day is a blessing and we can not guarantee tomorrow so why spend today hating myself. It helps to know that everyday is a new day to learn, grow, and be productive and to enjoy the experiences that life gives you.
It seems I was so caught up in how everything seemed wrong with me that I was incapable of looking around and appreciating all the great things in my life. Also I noticed I was throwing away my talents and everything I had to offer. But that has all changed because I wanted it bad enough. I didn't want to live like that any longer.
So please don't give up on yourself, if I could fight the odds and become a more positive person today anyone can.
I'm so glad I didn't give up. If I gave up I wouldn't be sitting here now writing this and it feels good to write this. To think back on how bad I was.
I was hindering any enjoyment I would get out of life. I was setting myself up for a miserable existence. No one deserves to live a life like that and I am telling everyone that you can change it. You can be happy.
Also I want to say to use this website as a tool. It got me through a lot and I truly appreciate Zoltan for making this website because without it things would've been a lot harder.