Self-Confidence and Self-Worth with Mental Illness

August 29, 2023 Michaela Jarvis

Understanding the difference between self-confidence and self-worth has helped me on my mental illness recovery journey. Self-confidence is more exterior, valuing my abilities and external presentation. Self-worth is my internal view of myself and what I deserve. Learn more about mental illness and self-confidence versus self-worth below.

Self-Confidence While Mentally Ill

In my early 20s, I was often complimented on my self-confidence. It appeared that I knew what I wanted, said what I wanted, did what I wanted, and loved myself while doing it.

I was no stranger to manic episodes, which fueled my mindset of I-can-do-no-wrong-and-face-no-consequences. Once I started mood stabilizers and taking my recovery seriously, my self-image and confidence disintegrated substantially, leaving me to face how I truly felt about myself.

Low Self-Worth and Mental Illness

I had been self-confident, but I severely lacked self-worth because of my mental illness. I could look at myself in the mirror and think, "What a wonderful person," but my actions were not aligned.

There were years of poisoning my body and putting myself in harm's way. It was behind closed doors that I struggled with self-harm, substance abuse, and even an attempt to end my life.

No one would have known this because I exuded such a powerful perception of self-confidence that I had even tricked myself. Underneath my persona lived the part of me that didn't think I was deserving.

Uncovering Self-Worth on the Mental Illness Healing Journey

I'm still struggling to rebuild my self-confidence with mental illness. I fall victim to the comparison game, and I doubt my writing, my work, and even my hobbies. I've spent hours in front of a mirror reciting every detail I would change.

But while working on my journey to recover from my mental illness and reinstall a healthy level of self-confidence, I uncovered my self-worth.

For me, self-worth doesn't mean I'm always certain of myself. It means that I know at the end of the day, I'm going to forgive myself for not being perfect. It means I'm at the point where I can have honest conversations instead of guarded attacks. I can be part of my first serious, healthy relationship in years because I'm worthy of love. I've moved past long-held grudges and anger because not only do other people deserve forgiveness, but I deserve to forgive myself as well.

Building Self-Worth with a Mental Illness

My self-worth is the sticky note on my mirror that says, "I am beautiful. I am confident. I am grateful for my body."

Even though I'm working on building my confidence around my self-image, it's my self-worth that knows that healing my thoughts is more important than changing my body; no matter what I look like, I'm worthy of loving myself.

This is not to diminish the importance of self-confidence. A healthy level of self-confidence is necessary for mental illness recovery. One has to believe in themselves to achieve their goals, but I do think the concept of self-worth is what drives someone to create those goals.

Understanding the importance of self-worth made me understand why it is so crucial to recovery. Knowing my self-worth keeps me going and reminds me that I'm worth recovering for.

APA Reference
Jarvis, M. (2023, August 29). Self-Confidence and Self-Worth with Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Author: Michaela Jarvis

Michaela Jarvis is continuously on her road to self-improvement while managing bipolar disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and the life challenges that come with being in your 20s. Find Michaela on Instagram, LinkedIn, and her website.

Lori J
August, 29 2023 at 4:57 pm

I never thought of the two as being separate concepts. Love how you explained this. Great job!

August, 29 2023 at 4:34 pm

I am super proud of the young lady you have become! I’ve always been proud of you, but reading these posts helps me understand what you have gone through. Thank you for your forgiveness and may you be blessed by sharing your journey. Love you to the moon and back and even further. ❤️

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