Three panels showing the growth of a flower as a farmer waters it, the final panel showing the flower happy and a heart between the two of them.

My Journey To Self-Esteem

Before I became sick I was always an outgoing type of person and I pretty much lived life to the fullest. I had worked abroad, I was a keen fitness fanatic with a particular passion for swimming and I had many friends.

I now realize that I took all of this for granted because when my health problems began I felt it all slipping away from me. It was a horrible feeling. I craved for that normality that had become my life but on reflection, I had built up a character in my mind of who I was and how others perceived me. I was always the fun, bubbly girl that everybody loved and could rely on. I suppose it felt a bit like playing a part in a movie and I was still trying to play the same part even after I was diagnosed with lupus which became impossible in the end.

Accepting changes from lupus

I was grieving for the loss of my old self and it has taken me years to come to an acceptance that I am now a totally different person because of the cards life has dealt me.

One of the concerns that used to really get to me was that I no longer fitted in and as a consequence, I'd lose friends. This sadly did happen but I eventually came to the realization that this wasn't my fault.

When we lose our health it's common for people to suffer from low self-esteem. It's so easy to feel on top of the world and to like ourselves when our lives are going well but when we are struggling with chronic illness it can really put a dent in it! Our relationships can suffer, we may start to feel unattractive and we can feel vulnerable to name but a few.

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Seeking counseling

It wasn't until I decided to have some counseling for other issues that I realized just how negative my thinking had become - to the point where I really did not like myself.

I remember a really good analogy that my counselor used on me and that was to imagine that my best friend was talking in the same manner about herself as I was doing and she was confiding in me, what would I say to her? Of course, I would reach out to her and tell her just how amazing and strong she was for all she had been through! This really helped me to see things in a whole new light and rather than mourning the loss of those friends that had let me go I started to appreciate those ones that had stuck by me throughout everything.

New focus

I also realized that when you give too much focus on the stuff you can't do it just makes you feel worse so instead, I started to focus on the stuff I could do, no matter how small it might be. It might be a short walk around the garden or even making a nice meal but it's my achievement! There are other tools that I've found really helpful such as meditation which is a personal favorite of mine and using affirmations.

Don't get me wrong I still have my days where I struggle but I tell myself that I'm only human and I know that in time it will pass.

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