Saturday, June 9, 2012
Mental Health and Self-Esteem
There is a vicious cycle between low self-esteem and mental health concerns. Having low self-esteem makes individuals vulnerable to developing mental health concerns. In particular it makes individuals more likely to develop depressive disorders, eating disorders and substance abuse problems. Having any psychiatric disorder lowers an individual’s self-esteem even more. When more than one psychiatric disorder is present (say depression and anxiety or bipolar disorder and anxiety for example), the effects on the self-esteem are even worse. So, self-esteem negatively affects mental health and mental health negatively affects self-esteem, it is a double edged sword! Those of us with mental health concerns are already so many steps back from other individuals when it comes to having a healthy self-esteem.
Stigma adds to the picture! Stigma has a strong negative influence on the self-esteem of individuals with mental health concerns. If society is constantly looking down on you for having a mental illness then it makes it pretty hard to change your outlook on yourself and therefore improve your self-esteem. Stigma really has a huge effect on people- I know it did on me! That is why I find it so important to take every chance I get now to educate people about mental illness and about stigma.
I was never able to openly discuss my mental illness in the past for 2 reasons…
1) My self-esteem was very low!
2) Stigma made me scared to tell anyone that I suffered from Bipolar Disorder so instead I hid it like a deep dark secret when really there is nothing to hide about it!
My self-esteem has drastically improved with a lot of hard work and I don’t care about what others think about me for having a mental illness! If someone doesn’t accept my mental illness then they don’t deserve a place in my life! No exceptions! I will continue to fight stigma for as long as I am alive because nobody deserves to live in fear and shame due to their mental illness. Just as importantly, nobody deserves to have their self-esteem lowered because of the stigma associated with mental illness and the way some individuals in society treat people with a mental illness.
It is so important to realize that what truly matters is how you view yourself! If you don’t believe in yourself- who else is left to believe in you? My next blog post will be about how to improve your self-esteem so stay tuned for that! I think most of us have room to improve there, I know I do! I have made a lot of improvements in the recent months but I’m not perfect!
Thanks for reading! Until next time…