Self-esteem was a regular focus when I was in grade school and it was a popular topic in many of my university courses. Accordingly, I was surprised and somewhat disturbed last month when my advising mental health professional suggested that low self-esteem could be a major component of my issues.
I was not taken back by the information alone, since self-esteem disruptions and mood disorders are undeniably linked, but I was instead blown away by the sudden realization that I had been completely neglectful of my own esteem for a considerable amount of time.
I can trace this problem to when I first began to understand the effects of the various episodes associated with bipolar type II disorder (about a year ago). It became clear that depression was more disruptive to my productivity than hypomania so I convinced myself to accept the limitations posed by the disorder and to take advantage of any operational time (when level or sometimes when hypomanic) that was available.
While I don’t believe that this was a poor strategy in theory, I do feel that it became doomed to collapse when I failed to remember that my actions and abilities are more than simply the result of a disorder. I had managed to attribute all of my achievements to hypomania while still holding myself personally accountable for any negative experiences. It was a lose-lose situation that almost resulted in my complete withdrawal from the workforce and potentially society as a whole.
I’m lucky to have a fantastic psychiatrist, and I can’t stress enough that my journey would have likely gone over “the edge” if not for his help. He helped me remember that I am a very capable human being with lots of potential, and gave me the boost I needed to begin rebuilding my self-esteem.
Now it’s my focus to maintain the appropriate perspective and to give myself credit where credit is due. It’s easy to let mental health issues dominate our esteem and confidence without realizing it, so becoming aware can be viewed as an accomplishment in its self. Best of luck to anyone in a similar situation, and remember to respect yourself, you deserve it.
Winner kid photo available from Shutterstock.