By Naomi Nyakio Thangwa
Experiencing bullying during my teenage years had a profound impact on my self-esteem, which ultimately affected various aspects of my life. I was subjected to hurtful comments and ridicule from my cousins, and being young and naive, I internalized their words and believed their negative assessments of me. The consistent belittlement and mockery took a toll on my self-perception, leading to low self-esteem.
During that time, I struggled to realize that how I viewed myself was more important than the opinions of others. I gradually learned that beauty is subjective and lies in the eyes of the beholder. It was comforting to remember the words from Psalm 139:14, which assured me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, implying that I am not a mistake but a unique creation of God.
Unfortunately, the consequences of my low self-esteem were far-reaching, affecting various aspects of my life. The chronic stress I experienced due to these negative beliefs eventually led to burnout. Over the years, my hormonal balance was disrupted, contributing to feelings of depression. Regrettably, I was unaware of my mental health condition and did not seek help promptly.
Reflecting on that period, I can identify several symptoms I experienced as a result of my low self-esteem and subsequent depression. I struggled with memory loss and forgetfulness, which further affected my academic performance, resulting in poor grades. Increased self-criticism became a prominent feature of my mindset, as I started to believe the hurtful words spoken to me.
Thoughts of death or suicide invaded my mind, and a sense of hopelessness clouded my thoughts. I experienced low energy levels, severe headaches, and found myself crying frequently. Decision-making became difficult, and I often felt confused and lacked focus and concentration. The effects of depression were evident in my slowed movements and speech.
Sleep disturbances became a common occurrence, ranging from trouble falling asleep to excessive sleeping. Changes in appetite, which manifested as both weight loss and weight gain due to altered eating patterns, became noticeable. Self-pity became a recurrent emotion as I started feeling sorry for myself and indulged in negative thought patterns.
Additionally, my low self-esteem led me to enter toxic relationships, as I found it easier to accept control rather than assert my own worth. All these factors compounded my difficulties, making it challenging to break free from the cycle of negative self-perception and its associated consequences.
It is important to acknowledge that low self-esteem can have profound effects on mental health and overall well-being. Recognizing the signs and seeking help from professionals can be crucial in overcoming these challenges. With appropriate support and guidance, it is possible to rebuild self-esteem, develop a positive self-image, and lead a fulfilling life.
HOW I OVERCAME LOW SELF ESTEEM AND SUICIDAL THOUGHTS
I overcame my low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts through a transformative journey that involved various elements. One significant turning point was when I stumbled upon a live Sunday service on one of the television channels. The sermon titled “Nothing changes until your mentality changes” resonated deeply with me and marked the beginning of my transformation.
During the broadcasts, they displayed prayer lines on the bottom of the screen, which allowed viewers to send prayer requests. I took the opportunity to seek counsel for the issues I was facing, and the counselors used God’s word to guide and counsel me. This continued for a while until I had a profound realization—I was not truly born again. With that conviction, I made the decision to become born again, which sparked an immediate change in my life. It was the start of a new chapter filled with self-appreciation and self-love.
As for the persistent suicidal thoughts that had haunted me since primary school and worsened during my eighth-grade year, I finally recognized that this was not the way life should be. Despite being on medication, I didn’t see any improvement. That’s when I mustered the courage to visit a psychiatrist and open up about my suicidal thoughts. I was prescribed anti-depressants, and after taking them, I experienced a significant shift. It felt like I had awakened from a dream and returned to reality, allowing me to create a new personal reality that aligned with my true self.
In early 2018, I fully embraced God’s will and found myself back on track. Life started anew, and with my own journey of healing and transformation, I became a mental health champion. I stepped forward to create awareness about mental health and advocate against suicide, firmly believing that life is a gift from God and only He has the authority to take it away. Currently, I am actively involved with the mental health department of the Fasalina Charity Organization, working to support and empower others on their mental health journeys.
Featured Image Courtesy