When low self-esteem sneaks up on you
Beth blogs about her sudden experience of intensely low self-esteem and how she managed to cope.
Things started changing for me in September 2013, when I moved away from my small Dorset hometown to the vibrant and beautiful Brighton to accept a place at music college.
Since I was little, I’d wanted nothing more that this kind of opportunity - so I was shocked when instead of starting this new chapter filled with excitement, I was filled with the notion that for some reason, I didn't deserve my place on the course.
I went to Brighton dragging a suitcase full of anxieties based on past experiences - a fear of failing, a fear of not being good enough, a fear of being alone and most obviously a fear of letting people down.
Needless to say, my first experience of singing in class was far from fun… I stood up to perform feeling sick and petrified and instead of embracing the music, the whole time my own thoughts bullied me; telling me how bad I was doing, how awful I am and how everyone will think I’m rubbish. I broke down in tears as as soon as I stopped singing.
Over the next few months, performing daily in pressurised situations where criticism and feedback were part of the course fuelled an anxiety which rekindled my lack of self worth - until one day, I suffered a series of intense panic attacks.
"On finding myself struggling to breathe, ill with exhaustion and unable to leave the house, I realised that I needed help."
I couldn’t answer the phone for fear of disappointing someone, I didn’t go out for fear of embarrassing myself, and I genuinely believed I was no use to anybody.
For me, low self-esteem is the little voice inside my head that says ‘you’re rubbish, you’re fat, what’s the point, you’re not cut out for this’ and so on…
I knew I needed help, because I realised that without change, I’d end up turning down incredible opportunities; giving up on my dreams out of sheer belief that I wasn’t good enough. Luckily, thanks to support from the university and people around me, things didn’t come to that and I got started on my road to recovery - with the help of a student counselling service.
They supported me to face my anxieties and gave me some tips and ways to cope, including regular exercise, getting outside, healthy eating, mindfulness therapy and even meditation.
It’s amazing to say I’m now learning to love and look after my mental heath. In such an image conscious, creative industry like music and the arts, it can feel impossible to open up about these kind of problems. But, when I did, I realised there are so many people who are experiencing a similar battle with their own mental health.
Now my self esteem is improving daily, I am taking steps towards achieving and enjoying my dreams. As well as writing my own music, I am the lead vocalist of my rock and pop covers band; performing every week and providing entertainment for people’s special occasions at weddings, celebrations, in pubs clubs and other amazing venues.
Although I think my bandmates may have seen me doubt my abilities from time to time, I know they believe in me and that helps my confidence grow.
My experience and the support I've received has helped me realise I can start to believe in myself again, I would really encourage anyone struggling with similar issues to reach out for support too.
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