Self Esteem 101 (For Someone Living With A Mental Illness)

My self esteem has always been a little bit all over the place. From a young age, I was very self conscious about the shape of my body, being a little taller than the other girls in school, and never having that super skinny body.

Unfortunately, I didn’t deal with it in the best way as I grew up. I would binge eat like you wouldn’t believe, and then starve myself for days while working out excessively. I even went to a nutritionist, who was amazing, but didn’t understand what I was going through. She told me I didn’t have an eating disorder. I was later diagnosed by my current psychiatrist.

Now, I don’t binge, I don’t starve myself, and I try to eat healthily most of the time. And the photos you see above? That’s what my body looks like now- that’s where it’s settled after constantly being above and below that weight for years.

While I’m not thrilled with the way I look, I am learning to love myself where I am now, while still trying to get into better shape. I think that’s the biggest lesson. You can love yourself wherever you are right now, while still trying to change and better yourself in whatever way that may be. That’s true self love.

I went to the beach for Labor Day and rocked that bikini, although I usually go for high waisted swimsuits or one pieces. I tried all day to not be self conscious, but I still found that I was. Was this a failure? No way. It’s because I tried something new, took a risk, and tried my best to live my life without fear. Even though I wasn’t completely confident, wearing a bikini at my size (10-14, depending on the store) was never something I would have done last year. So I know that I’m taking steps forward, and I’m really proud of that.

My advice to anyone who wants to be more confident is to take small steps forward every day. Get to know your body and don’t be afraid of it. Seek out help for an eating disorder if you have one or think you might, and then go from there. If you deal with anxiety, and let’s say you only are comfortable in one pieces but want to wear a bikini, wear something with a high waist. Just work up to two pieces. I think you get what I’m saying. If you’re afraid of certain foods, don’t force yourself to eat them all in one day. Go one at a time. If you want to stop counting calories, do it gradually. The list goes on and on.

The thing is, we are not the problem. Society and the constant telling of consumers that we’re not good enough is the problem. We ARE good enough. You are beautiful. You are worthy. If you just remember these things, you begin to see that you don’t have to look like a stereotypical supermodel to be considered pretty. And also that there are more important things than being pretty! Focusing on your passions, your intelligence, your drive, your compassion….these are the things that make up who you are. It really has nothing to do with what you look like.

But of course, we always worry about our appearance. And it’s okay to want to look “good,” whatever that means to you. Just be gentle with yourself, and always remember that you are already perfect, just the way you are.

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