Remember my earlier post asking what you, my lovely readers, would like me to write about on this blog? Well, another one of the subjects that came up repeatedly was self esteem/depression as a fat woman. So let’s talk about that one today hmmm?
It’s a subject I know only all too well. Not only do I suffer clinical depression (the black dog – what fun that is) but a lifetime of being a fat female with all and sundry telling me I was worthless meant that my self esteem was absolutely non-existant for most of my life, up until a couple of years ago.
I’m really lucky in that I found a wonderful doctor who took me under her wing and took my depression and low self esteem seriously. She worked with me at first but soon decided that I would benefit from some good counselling. She referred me to a psychologist who specialises in cognitive behavioural therapy and I’ve been seeing her now for three years.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) basically has you learning ways to change how you think and then behave. It undoes all the negative messages and self loathing you’ve built up over your life, helping you learn to recognise when you’re having these usually irrational thoughts, and the behaviours that follow them. Of course every therapist practices differently in method, but generally that’s the gist of what you’re learning to do with CBT.
For me, it was learning not to be so damn hard on myself. A real pivotal moment for me was the realisation that I was asking of myself things I would NEVER ask of another human being, especially not one that I actually liked, such as a friend or prospective partner. I was somehow expecting myself to be this superhuman being, yet was happy to accept everyone else for who they are, flaws and all. When I learned just how irrational and unrealistic that was, I could literally feel a change in myself around my self esteem and the levels of depression that I suffer.
That doesn’t mean that it’s all sunshine and roses all the time, but it means I recognise low self esteem and depression for what they are, and just kind of wait it out until those things leave.
One of the best things about having built my self esteem and confidence up is that I am far more resilient to the difficult things in life. Even the downright awful things in life. I can’t say that there is any less fat hate and douchebaggery in the world, but I can say that I don’t carry around the burden of all of that anymore. If someone wants to be hateful and a douchebag, it’s on their head, not mine.
I have learnt to be responsible for my own behaviour and attitudes, yet not take on board the behaviour and attitudes of other people. It’s been one of the most difficult but most rewarding lessons in life to learn.
The more I like myself, the better life is. I know that sounds wanky, like “Yeah, I rock!” But it’s not like that really. It’s about realising that I do alright in life, and that I am as valuable as anyone else. It’s about doing the best I can with what I have at my disposal. It’s about learning from my mistakes. And it’s about cutting myself a break instead of being so critical.
There’s no magic bullet for finding good self esteem and confidence, it takes time and practice and learning from mistakes, but it’s worth every minute. Because we’ve only got one life and we can’t waste it waiting around to be something we aren’t.
Besides, I believe every human being starts out a valuable being, it’s only through their behaviour and attitude they change that, not what shape their body is or whether or not they fit some kind of arbitrary idea of beauty.
Great post! And kudos to gaining some self esteem. You seem like a strong woman.
Thanks! It’s only when I look back in hindsight that I realise just how strong I’ve been in life.
Being able to recognise your own strength is pretty hard I think, especially for women. I’ve been there with the “I’m expecting things of myself I don’t expect of others” as well.
Anyway, I suck at articulation. This is a great post! Thankyou.
Oh yeah, I’m only starting to recognise it now, and I’m 37! Some people never do I guess, I figure I’m lucky to have had as good help as I get.
And thank you for stopping by with positive words.