Exercises to build self-esteem: #3. Personal positive experiences

Personal positive experiences…

1. Take out a clean sheet of paper and a pen of your choice.

2. Divide the paper into eight sections: Courage, Kindness, Selflessness, Love, Sacrifice, Wisdom, Happiness, Determination.

3. Under each section write about positive personal experiences that come under that category.

4. You don’t have to limit yourself to one example for each, the more you can think of the better!

5. Keep the paper somewhere handy so that (a) you can read it frequently and (b) you can add to it whenever you fancy.

 

  • I fought cervical cancer for four years, and I’ve hopefully won.
  • I underwent two surgeries for the cancer.
  • I underwent four biopsies.
  • I am going public with Lulu Stark.  I’m going to be courageous here and put my name out there.  I am actually Tiffany.  But, I prefer Tiff.  Please keep calling me Lulu though.  I like it.  I think it represents something in me.
  • In June 2011, I started As The Pendulum Swings, my first mental health blog.
  • I co-founded A Canvas of the Minds, a community mental health blogging site.
  • I supported Occupy Pittsburgh when they were camping in town.
  • In 2006, I lived without basic utilities in a dilapidated house.
  • I recently moved away from my hometown.
  • I had the courage to finally break ties with my extended family and put my parents at a distance.
  • I’ve finally accepted my son’s diagnosis of Pervasive Development Disorder.
  • In 2009, I sought treatment for bipolar disorder.
  • Before my surgery in 2011, I chose to live by my own hand.

  • I take late night phone calls for friends in need.
  • I used to volunteer for my family’s church.
  • I am fiercely loyal to friends, even if they don’t deserve it.
  • I occasionally give to charities, especially those for children.
  • I taught music in a youth program for underprivileged children.
  • I make it a point to comment on people’s blogs at least once a day.
  • I encourage online friends to email me when they are having a hard time.
  • I help my husband finish his work at home.
  • I leave love notes for my husband.
  • I once made a blanket for a child I was a nanny for.
  • I was a summertime nanny for two children plus my own.

  • I get up an hour and a half before my husband each day to get him off to work.
  • I always do without for my child.
  • I always make sure that my husband gets the big piece of chicken at dinner.
  • I cook, although I don’t often feel like it.
  • I take classes that my husband is very enthusiastic about me taking.
  • I make sure my child’s needs come first.
  • I am staying at home instead of working to take care of my son.
  • I am working hard to get my son services for his special needs.
  • I am always able to put my own stuff aside for a friend in crisis.
  • Over the last year, I have put off numerous appointments in order to accommodate my husband’s climb up the career ladder.  I still am.
  • Sometimes, as a result of my husband’s work, I find that I end up being the sole parent for most days.  I rarely ask for anything in return.
  • I lay my husband’s clothes out every morning because he’s colorblind.
  • I have forgone getting a new pair of glasses for two years because it’s not in the budget.
  • Sometimes, I make my medicine stretch just a little longer so that I can see everyone else is taken care of first.
  • I mentioned I help my husband finish his work at home.  I do so unpaid.
  • During Summer Semester 2011, I pushed a little girl around the wheelchair at the zoo.  If you knew the Pittsburgh zoo, then you know it’s very hilly.

  • I have never abandoned someone because they were “too much work”.
  • I put everything I have into my son.
  • One of the reasons we moved to the place we live in now is so we could take care of my husband’s family, all of whom are disabled now.
  • I write prose to my husband.  Sometimes, I stick cute notes in his work laptop.
  • I will do anything to immediately soothe my husband’s panic attacks.
  • I will hold my son for hours when he’s having an emotional day.
  • I am always telling my husband wonderful things about himself.
  • I am not hesitant to be affectionate with my husband, even when he is.

  • I recently passed up a job offer to stay at home with my son.
  • I have not pursued the last four credits of my Bachelors, because the money would come out of pocket.
  • In the summer of 2011, I taught summer semester while having undiagnosed walking pneumonia for over a month.  We needed the money.
  • In 2010, I had to surrender my dog Nikki.  She was too big for the house, setting off Beast’s allergies, and we didn’t have a big enough yard for her.
  • In 2006, I dropped out of college to work.  The man I was with at the time and I had some really wrecked finances.
  • In 2006 and then again in 2009, I took a job in a commercial bakery when I had two different Associate’s Degrees.  I was desperate for work.
  • Becoming a mother is sacrifice in itself.
  • I am holding off on having a second child for my husband’s sake.  I may not be able to have children as I grow older, and I take the risk that the cancer will return.

  • In 2012, I started Sunny with a Chance of Armageddon to help share my experience with others so they might not feel so alone.
  • I regularly give advice to friends and family.
  • Despite our rocky relationship, I counseled my mother while she had difficulty taking care of her own mother.
  • I know that I can only believe none of what I hear and only half of what I see.
  • Get me once, shame on you.  Get me twice, shame on me.
  • I realize that life is what happens when a person is busy making other plans.
  • There are some things that I can help, and there are some things I cannot.  It’s up to me to have the wisdom to determine which is which.  I am pretty good at that at this point.
  • I always remind others that you can’t change people.
  • I find that I always remind others that happiness and health are more important than anything else.  Money and duty sometimes have to take a backseat.

  • In 2008, I took a honeymoon to my favorite beach, Myrtle Beach.
  • Also in 2008, I gave birth to one of my sources of joy, my son, my Beast.
  • Also in 2008, I married the man of my dreams.  My other half, maybe my better half, Xan.
  • My family takes regular long drives through the country.
  • I adopted a kitten in 2011.
  • In 2007, my long time best friend, Xan (my now husband), got into our romantic relationship.  We had a whirlwind romance that ended up with us being married in less than a year.
  • I’ve had five wonderful years with my husband.
  • I have wonderful friends who would do anything for me.
  • I’m now living in the nicest house I’ve ever lived in.
  • I have so much land and I don’t live on a busy street anymore.
  • I’m in the best shape of my life.

  • I will finish my degree one day, and finish higher degrees.
  • I will find a good therapist and get on the right medication.
  • I will combat mental illness, and come out the other side better for it.
  • I will continue to get in shape and stay in shape.
  • I will belt up in Tang Soo Do.
  • I will continue to keep fighting cancer, even if the doctors are sure that it’s gone.
  • I will help my son catch up in his development.
  • I will help my husband be the best father, husband, and employee he can be.
  • I will never give up on myself, my goals, my dreams, and my friends and family.

 

All that I am, all that I ever was...

Send you negative thoughts to the naughty corner!

So far this week we have looked at what self-esteem is; the value we place on ourselves and how we see ourselves in general, what low self-esteem is; when we as individuals hold deep-seated negative beliefs about ourselves, and how we can work toward improving these beliefs through altering our perceptions of who we are.

First, by focussing on the things that bring us pleasure (rather than pain) and secondly, on how it isn’t narcissistic to love our individual gifts and talents.

Today, we look at our experiences.

As many people who suffer from low-esteem may relate to, I spend a lot of time living in the negative space of my life. All day, every day, I am constantly reminding myself of all the things I have done wrong; of when I let my friends down, of when I…

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Leep-Into-Cin – Part III

Part three and recent parts of my fight with cervical cancer

As the Pendulum Swings

Warning: The following content can be considered graphical in nature.  It may contain material that may not be appropriate for certain audiences.  Children under the age of 18, those of the male gender, and others faint of heart may want to take extra care while viewing this.  Use your own discretion.

Bringing in the Big Guns

After the experience where I was left stranded on an operating table, I had grown animosity toward that doctor that performed my surgery.  I refused to see her, and I refused to go through any more procedures.  It didn’t matter.  I had lost my insurance again and there was nothing I could possibly do.  The only other option was to return to the clinic so that they could slowly kill me with their negligence.

I did break down and go to the clinic, but only for a required Pap to receive birth control.  I…

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Flirting with Suicide

Warning: This post has strong themes of suicide and self-injury within. It may contain potential triggers. Reader discretion is advised.

Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. In 2007, it was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 34,598 deaths.1

An estimated 11 attempted suicides occur per every suicide death.1

Essentially, statistics indicate that there are 380,578 reported cases of attempted suicide each year.  Personally, I see this as a gross underestimate.  The botched attempts are the ones that end up in the hospital.  But what about the folks who take a handful of pills, pass out, and wake up like nothing happened the very next day?  It is in my personal experience, as a person who has never ended up hospitalized by a suicide attempt, that I would jump that number up by at least 20 times the amount of completed suicides.

Today is suicide prevention day.  And today, I wanted to bare my soul and share my sordid past with suicide attempts.

Is suicide common among children and young people?

In 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.1 Of every 100,000 young people in each age group, the following number died by suicide:1

  • Children ages 10 to 14 — 0.9 per 100,000
  • Adolescents ages 15 to 19 — 6.9 per 100,000
  • Young adults ages 20 to 24 — 12.7 per 100,000

I started in the earliest age group.  I was a deeply troubled young teenager.  I have only written about this in a personal journal, but I feel it’s time to share.

It was a warm March Friday, humid after a fresh rain.  I was rather excited for that Friday, because it would have been the first Friday I was released from my grounding since January.  It was the truth that my grades had slipped into the toilet.  But, so had my mental health.  I dressed in my funeral best daily.  Every single day was a day that I had wished, nay, prayed for death.  Only a merciful God would release me from this suffering, I thought constantly.  And as a result of my downward spiral, I felt the entire verbally abusive arsenal my parents had to offer.

Another bad progress report.  I was failing math and gym.  Truthfully, I wasn’t good at math.  And what teenage girl in the entire world wants to be seen in front of all of her peers in a swimsuit?  My “excuses” fell on deaf ears.  This warranted more time in isolation.  I begged.  I pleaded.  Just this one Friday, and then I will begrudgingly accept my punishment.  I had surely earned it, after all.

I was berated for not trying hard enough.  “Are you lazy or stupid?  I can’t decide anymore.”  The words stung, like a clean slap across the face.  I lost my temper and started to storm up the stairs.  I called back to my father, “You’re an asshole.”

“Get your little ass back down here!”

I glanced backward to see the furious, crazy look in his eyes.  But, I was beyond caring.  I was beyond fear anymore.  I continued up the stairs as he screamed after me.  Do your worst.

“You little bitch, come down here and face me!” he challenged.

I did.  He grabbed my by my collar and snatched me up so close to his face that he spat every angry word at me.  “Come on.  Take a shot.  The first one is free.”

I knew better.  If I were to take the shot, that would justify any beating I would have received after that.  I was only 4’9″, and he towered over me at a grand 6’3″.  I was a little girl in comparison to this adult man.  I stared into his eyes defiantly, gnashed teeth and a snarl.  I never lost his gaze in that moment.  I refused.

With one twist of his arm, he dragged me down the last three stairs.  Violently, he pulled me into the air by my collar and thrust me into the kitchen wall.  I was terrified, but I would never show it.  I would not give him the satisfaction.  I looked behind him to see my mother standing there, doing nothing to help me.  She looked at me with these vindictive eyes and a satisfied face.  He screamed in my face about disrespect, what an ungrateful piece of shit I was, and how I didn’t even deserve all of the things they had given me.  I started to lose my air as my collar choked me.  I panicked, as I started to black out.  His words faded.  I closed my eyes.

Thud.  He dropped me three feet to the floor, and I hit the ground hard.  I crumpled onto myself as he stormed off.  I looked up at my mother who was looking down at me.  And without a word, she walked away.  My last hope of salvation had betrayed me.  And I curled into a ball and cried.

(This part I have to omit because it is going to be in a future installation of “The Friday Confessional”.)

After I had been dragged home, I took refuge in my room.  All hope was lost.  There was no escape.  There was no one who could save me from this.  There was only one way out.

I went into the medicine cabinet and grabbed an entire bottle of Advil and another of Tylenol.  I washed it down with another bottle of Nyquil and waited on the edge of the bathtub.  This was going to be my way out.  If God wasn’t going to come to my rescue, and the authorities felt this was a gross exaggeration of the truth, then I would take matters into my own hands.  Let me be damned to eternal hell.  It couldn’t be much worse than this.

I filled the tub and waited some more.  I undressed.  This should make the cleanup convenient, I thought to myself.  I sure didn’t want my death to be a major inconvenience.   Everyone would celebrate my departure.  Everyone would be happier without me.

Botched.  I woke up a few hours later and crawled into my bed for warmth.  And I slept for over 24 hours.  No one took any kind of note at the missing medications or my inexplicable hypersomnia.

That was the first in dozens of attempts to take my own life.  At the young age of thirteen.  The idea of suffering the abuse and neglect of my parents for the next five years until I was a legal adult was too much to bear.  And I was absolutely convinced that I would be dead by my seventeenth birthday at the rate I was going.  I had tried so many times that I eventually started calling it, “Flirting with Suicide”, just because there was something of a romance between it and me.

And every single attempt was the best I could possibly manage with the materials provided.  I suppose a person can call that parasuicidal if they choose.  Maybe it was.  I’m not sure anymore.

I’m nearly twenty-eight now.  All of that was nearly fifteen years ago.  And the last time I attempted suicide was over a year ago, a few days before I started writing As the Pendulum Swings.  In that year, I learned that I had a relapse back into a more serious cervical cancer.  And it dawned on me that there was a possibility that I could one day die from it.  I had resigned myself to life.  If I couldn’t die on my own terms, a survivor of multiple attempts, then I would live.

In the end, I chose to live.

What are some risk factors for nonfatal suicide attempts?

  • As noted, an estimated 11 nonfatal suicide attempts occur per every suicide death. Men and the elderly are more likely to have fatal attempts than are women and youth.1
  • Risk factors for nonfatal suicide attempts by adults include depression and other mental disorders, alcohol and other substance abuse and separation or divorce.5,6
  • Risk factors for attempted suicide by youth include depression, alcohol or other drug-use disorder, physical or sexual abuse, and disruptive behavior.6,7
  • Most suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress, not harmless bids for attention. A person who appears suicidal should not be left alone and needs immediate mental-health treatment.

Educate yourselves.  Realize that every suicide attempt is serious and should be treated immediately.  Realize that suicidal gestures, ideation, and plans are all extremely serious and significant.  And find the courage to find yourself, a family member, or a friend immediate treatment.  Suicide is completely preventable when people are educated.

Thank you for reading.  Take care.