Each time I’ve thought of sharing about this I’ve stopped myself. I’ve thought, “there are real problems out there than just having low self-esteem. Anthu akuvutika kunjaku”.
I find that telling someone they shouldn’t be upset about something because there are other bigger things to be upset about, is a bit like telling someone not to be happy because there are other bigger things to be happy about. We all have different perspectives, and what might not be a big deal to you, may be a big deal to someone else.
When I was in my teens I developed a negative body image. I figured it was something I should’ve snapped out of. I felt if I told people about it they would think I was trying to get attention or get them to tell me I was attractive. I didn’t know how to explain that my low self-esteem was affecting everything about me in a way that made sense to others.
Thankfully I recovered a few years ago and I don’t have low self-esteem anymore \o/ sure, there are some moments when I don’t feel as confident in my appearance but it is not as bad as it used to be and unlike the past, such moments are fleeting. Sometimes I wonder if I would have recovered sooner if I had known that my mental health was just like my physical health and needed help to recover when unwell. Your mental health is your state of mind. Your thinking determines your life -it affects how you feel and act, so your mental health matters, too. Here are a few things I would tell someone to help them cope and recover:
There will be days when you feel overwhelmed and anxious. Days when you don’t feel confident or competent. Days when none of your clothes fit right. Days when you are easily triggered. Days when you feel sad and you don’t know why. Days when you are tired of sending out applications. Days when you feel stuck and useless or like a burden. Days when you don’t feel like waking up and you just want to be alone and cry. On some really bad days, you may even contemplate death.
On days like this, simply have a day. Stay alive. It’ll get better, promise, but until then, have a day.
2. Try to not compare yourself to others (about anything, really)
Comparing yourself to others leaves you either feeling better than them or worse than them or thinking that your situation isn’t valid or worth getting worked up about. Acknowledging that you are struggling with your mental health does not mean you are dismissing other people’s problems. It does not mean you are “soft” and are only experiencing it because you haven’t gone through what others perceive as real problems. You didn’t choose to feel that way and your feelings are valid.
In countries where the majority of the population don’t have much money to spare, if you are struggling with your mental health and you are perceived wealthy or well to do, you may feel guilty for feeling sad or helpless or too emotional. You may feel as though you shouldn’t feel anxious or helpless because you have material things others don’t. Truth is anyone can struggle with mental health; it has nothing to do with your socio-economic status.
3. Take care of yourself
I like to think of triggers as similar to allergens in concept. Allergens are usually harmless substances that cause allergic reactions, such as lactose, peanuts, or pollen. Some people are born with allergies and some people develop them as they grow and some people outgrow their allergies. Allergic reactions vary in severity in the same person depending on the circumstances. People don’t choose what to be allergic to, and not everyone has allergies. A trigger is something that reminds a person about a traumatic event or period in their life. It can cause the person to experience the same unpleasant emotions they had such as sadness, anxiety, or helplessness. People don’t choose to be triggered and they all react differently.
If you have struggled with your mental health before then try to recognise your triggers and a strategy for ways to cope. When you are triggered, allow yourself to feel your feelings. Bottling them up tends to makes it worse. I find the best way to deal with unpleasant feelings is to acknowledge them and feel them and find ways to cope. You could seek professional help from a therapist. You could pray. You could keep a journal to write your thoughts in. You could exercise. You could meditate on scripture to renew your mind. You could do whatever healthy (doesn’t harm you or others) thing to cope, it depends on what works for you at the time.
One way that helps me cope are quotes. There is a quote I particularly like that says “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
I hope you’re happy and healthy ❤
Hie! I am Thokozani and I am a foodie who loves to travel and nap.
Here are some pictures I took yesterday because my hair game was strong. These made the cut from 78 that I bribed my sister to take as a launch-of-my-writing-career photo shoot.