In two and a half weeks, I will turn 29. Unsurprisingly, next year I will turn 30. Thirty. Not a kid any more. Not even a particularly young adult. A bona fide grown-up. I’m not expecting to have all the answers by then — life hasn’t followed an expected path so far, and I doubt that will change — and, as human beings, we are constantly learning and growing. But I do hope to be a bit more together, and have some things sorted out. Namely, my low self-esteem.
I have seen a fair few therapists, counsellors and psychs in my time. About seven all up, but some just once or twice. I feel a bit ashamed about that, for some reason, because it must sound as though I am a mess, but it’s not my fault. At least I was trying to better myself. My current psychiatrist, who isn’t treating me with therapy but is overseeing my medication, said she suspected I was looking for the “perfect therapist” who would be able to magically fix my problems. She told me that person does not exist. Tough love! I do think a therapist and patient ought to “click”, ideally, but she’s probably right.
The fact is, I cannot look outside myself for fixes to my problems. Nobody can provide solutions for me. Outside support is necessary — vital, even — but, no matter how many people I tell about my low self-esteem, nobody can convince me that I am “worthy”; it is I who must convince myself. I was once in love with and loved by a wonderful man, and he could not convince me, either. If he couldn’t, no one can. The negative feelings haven’t dissipated over time, even though I have done a lot of things in my life that have made me proud. And so, this brings me to the realisation that I have to challenge my beliefs about myself. I have to, or I will go through life constantly feeling inferior and depriving myself of joy. There is no prize for the person who hates herself the most. While it is important to be humble, my feeling worthless benefits no one.
I intend to proceed by starting to view the feelings of unworthiness as “my disorder talking”. I will also actively try to build myself up in my own eyes — by being brave; by trying new things; by learning, extending myself and reaching out; by taking up new hobbies that, for some reason, I believe I am incapable of. I probably cannot make my inferiority complex go away (a psychologist told me that once, and I was gobsmacked. Whaaat?? I can’t? I have to put up with this shit FOREVER?!) but I can try to take away some of its power. Rather than ruling my life and restricting me, it can be an annoying cousin in the backseat who will not shut up. I, meanwhile, am in the driver’s seat, so I cannot afford to listen.
So. The feeling that I am unworthy of health and happiness? I hereby declare it bullshit. I am allowed to prioritise my health. I am going to try harder than ever to treat myself well, and believe I deserve it. I have family and friends who love and need me. I have to do it for their sake, and for my own.
I don’t know why believing in myself is so scary. I don’t know why trying to convince myself of my worth and ability is like jumping off a cliff. It’s self-preservation gone haywire! I’m not saying I’ll never binge eat again, or feel doubt. But I’ll bloody try to remember that I am worthwhile, and valuable, and deserve to be happy.