Depression can be one of the most self-esteem ruining illnesses. It’s an illness which makes your hobbies and interests inferior, an illness which makes your friends your enemies, an illness which feeds off of your light leaving you only with darkness. And yet, with all that said, you can radiate confidence even if you live with depression.
Before I go any further, you should know this isn’t a self-help article. This isn’t an “I can change your life in 10 days” article. Rather, this is a “you’re stronger, braver, and more wonderful than you think, so give yourself some credit” article. I say this because this is what I’ve come to learn about myself.
Bipolar and me
I live with bipolar disorder. It’s a mental illness with periods of severe lows and highs. I received the diagnosis in 2011, and have learned many coping mechanisms over the years on how to deal with my condition.
I’m not in the least bit ashamed of my illness. I started suffering when I was 14. I developed bulimia and began to self-harm to deal with the thoughts going on in my head. No one knew what was going on with me because, back then, it simply wasn’t discussed in public. It was completely stigmatized, completely taboo.
Today, I run an Instagram account to highlight mental illness and raise awareness for different conditions — not just my own. Although I’ve needed an occasional break from social media, it’s really helped me find strength in times of weakness by connecting with others. But if you had told me a year ago that I’d have the confidence to not only love my body but also my deepest, darkest secrets, I’d laugh in your face. Me? Being confident and happy with myself? No way.
Love needs time to grow
However, over time, I’ve become more confident. Yes, I still deal with low self-esteem and negative thoughts — they’ll never go away. It takes time and understanding, but I’ve learned how to love myself.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact that you’re not only going through a mental illness, but also having to deal with the stigma of society, means you’re stronger than you think. I completely understand that confidence and mental illness don’t go hand in hand. You won’t wake up every morning feeling on top of the world, ready to conquer every goal you set.
What I’ve learned is to allow yourself time. Allow yourself to feel your emotions. Give yourself credit. Give yourself a break. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. And above all, give yourself the love you deserve.
You are not your illness
It’s easy to put others first, especially when you don’t feel confident in yourself. But maybe it’s time you consider yourself a priority. Maybe it’s time you stop criticizing yourself, and actually give yourself a compliment. You support and uplift your friends — why not yourself, too?
Having bipolar disorder can be a real pain, but it doesn’t keep me down. I REFUSE to let it beat me. I REFUSE to let it control me. I REFUSE to let it own me. I am strong, tough, brave (to a point I mean I’d never mess with a spider) and resilient. Being diagnosed with a mental illness and being told it cannot be cured can be quite daunting, but it doesn’t mean you can’t live a happy, full life. I am still a happy person. I am still Liv.
The negative thoughts in your head may sound like your own, but they aren’t. They’re your illness convincing yourself of the things you aren’t. You aren’t worthless, a burden, a failure. You get up every morning. You may not leave your bed, you may not go to work some days, but you’re alive and living. You’re doing it!
A round of applause for you!
Remember, not every day will be great. Not every day will bring you amazing news and wonderful experiences.
Face the world head on. Look life right in the face and say, “I got this.”
You are amazing. Don’t forget that.
Olivia — or Liv for short — is 24, from the United Kingdom, and a mental health blogger. She loves all things gothic, especially Halloween. She’s also a massive tattoo enthusiast, with over 40 so far. Her Instagram account, which may disappear from time to time, can be found here.