The Mental Illness and Self-Confidence Connection
Mental illness and self-confidence are intricately connected, before and after a mental illness diagnosis. Self-confidence is a tricky thing to define, and even more so when connected to mental illness, but it's important so let's give it a shot.
What Is Self-Confidence?
Let's refer to the good old thesaurus for a general description and then narrow it down and connect self-confidence to mental illness and our experience of confidence. Confidence is defined as having a "belief in oneself . . . self-assurance . . . determination." I expected more of a definition, a few thousand examples perhaps, but that is what I get and I suppose that gives us a lot to work with.
Let's be honest: We could write a massive book on confidence and surely many exist but, in my experience, mental illness has impacted my self-confidence in many ways.
How Mental Illness Affects Self-Confidence
Here are a few examples of mental illness affecting self-confidence that I believe many people who live with mental illness can relate to:
- Before diagnosis, our behavior influences self-confidence. We may wonder why we act certain ways or respond to life events differently than those around us. A couple of examples: why we cannot seem to hold a job for long and why our relationships suffer.
- Once we have been diagnosed--despite finding reason for our emotions and actions--we suddenly have a mental illness and that's scary. At first, the mental illness diagnosis is downright frightening and negatively influences our confidence.
- While on the road to recovery, our confidence may waver; taking medications, practicing self-care and trying to figure the entire mess out. It's a lot of work and can be isolating.
These are just a few examples. If I could sit still long enough, I would type pages (that would be rather wordy and entirely boring I suspect). But it's important to share our experience and to understand that self-confidence is something we all define differently.
Pursuing Self-Confidence with Mental Illness
Yes, I know, recovering from mental illness is hard enough. It's something we do every single day even when we are well--we work to maintain stability. I believe that the negative impact mental illness has on our level of confidence makes recovery more difficult. Recovering from mental illness--whether we can recognize it or not--involves the pursuit of self-confidence.
Learning about our illness involves learning about ourselves. Finding stability or working toward it increases our level of confidence. After all, it's hard work and like everything else in life the stuff that we work hardest to achieve is the most satisfying.
In your experience, what's helped you find self-confidence?
Champagne, N. (2013, January 14). The Mental Illness and Self-Confidence Connection, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2013/01/the-connection-between-mental-illness-and-self-confidence
Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne
The first most important thing to was establish a positive relationship with a helping professional. That person has been a part of my life for about 20 years! I trust him and can tell him anything.
I also tried to do things in which I could succeed. These were pretty tiny at first, like getting dressed in the morning or fixing a meal for myself, but I needed to give myself credit for them! I have gradually worked up to bigger tasks. I also learned to trust myself and believe in who I am.
Another thing was to keep a gratitude list. I learned to give thanks for some very small things which I was taking for granted. This made me more aware of other things to be gratful for.
Very gradually I developed a sense of empowerment, which I believe is the root of self-confidence.
Isolation is such a huge part of depression. I have yet to meet anyone who wants to spend a heck of a lot of time with other people--you know, smiling people, people who have a normal amount of energy. People not like us--at least when we suffer a period of depression.
That's fantastic you have a positive relationship with a helping professional. And for 20 years! :)
You seem to have walked the road, albeit a rocky one, to a sense of peace and I congratulate you on this. I also hope others can find this peace as well. Thank you for such a positive post.
Like Barb, I've dealt with depression for 42 years, with episodes at twenty and thirty years old, which knowing what I now know, were moderate episodes. Then in my mid-forties, I had three severe episodes, a year apart, earning me a diagnosis upgrade to Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent and Severe. Then beginning last Dec, I had a slowly worsening episode that has been my worst and longest. During this episodei was also diagnosed with ADHD. I've only been climbing outta the pit of the blackest darkness, shame, and despair, for about three weeks now.
And yes, my self confidence is always the first to go when the beast comes out of remission, as it was in early December when I lost yet another great job to the depression.
My negative self talk camps out on how "weak and cognitively challenged" I am with depression.
I'm learning that not only am I ABLE to retrain my mind with God's throughs about who I am in Christ, and how much God loves each and every one of us, but that the results of those changes Jane immediate and lasting effect on my self image and confidence.
I guess it has to do with... I know I'm a little weird, and I'm ok with it, even with my own illness, but it stresses me out sharing it, and feeling any time I can hurt other people, or they'll go 'cause my strangeness.