Self-image struggle

For as long as I can remember I’ve teetered between narcissism and self-deprecation, unable to find a healthy positive self-image. I actually never really put much thought into it until more recently, I don’t think I’ve ever felt this low about myself in my life. What is a positive self-image? I guess it’s something close to narcissism but also accepting your faults in a healthy way, attempting to improve and being humble about the good parts. I could never find that medium; instead I tried to make it happen by having half “love myself” and half “hate myself”. I honestly think both halves of that equation are just me masquerading for the fact I have no idea what to think of myself most of the time.

I haven’t been complimented in years. From talking to mates I think this is a common thing for males – where women compliment their friends men usually tend to insult them. Obviously this is all in good humour and I’m massively implicit in it, but I think this is what fuels my continued self-deprecation. It can almost be suffocating, having nothing but negative talk surround who you are as a person and then putting that on yourself as well when you’re out of that environment. But lately it’s been worse, a hell of a lot worse. Most people know someone who’s self esteem seems to revolve around attention from the opposite sex, which I’m guilty of laughing about on occasion, but it’s worrying me that I might be having that feeling. The longer I go without being complimented, or without romantic attention in general, makes my self-image more negative. I feel ugly, I feel socially inept, I feel like I’m not good enough to date or hook up.

This is a ridiculously toxic mindset but that’s how the brain and self-image works sometimes. A lot of my issue started when I had my first colitis flare and got diagnosed, and has got worse over time with it. Colitis makes me feel gross and a lot of the time I want to live like a recluse. “Who would want this? I come with so much baggage. Exhausted all the time, constant anxiety, depression, and then all the gastrointestinal issues when I’m flaring.” These are the things I tell myself. I look in the mirror and think yep I’m good looking, I like parts of myself, I’m confident and can be successful. But then I tear myself down with the negative shit. It’s like I want to be able to say all those nice things about myself but my “realism brain”, where I’m a smart adult that can be honest with themselves, tells me it’s not true and really I’m fucked and will be alone forever.

Is it true or is it the manifestation of poor mental health? It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy at its worst. Maybe some of the negative stuff is true, but it’s not healthy to be THAT honest about it. Yes things will be harder, but for fuck sake you haven’t turned into a donkey overnight. The positive good things are still there. It’s taken a lot for me to be able to realise what’s happening and accept that it’s wrong, I shouldn’t be feeling so negatively about myself. So now what?

I really should see someone about my mental health but I just can’t make myself do it. Writing things on this site has been helpful, letting me get it all out. It’s funny because it’s a little embarrassing, airing out all my issues on the public domain – but no one reads this anyway. My goal was to write about my experiences and hopefully people could visit, relate and maybe even hit me up for a chat. I think it’s ended up as a platform for me to complain and make myself look like a nutcase. I apologise, I’m trying to figure out how to write things that are more helpful.

But back to improving the old self-image. I know I need to turn it around and seeing a professional would be a good start, but yeh, I can’t do it. I want to, and hopefully I can sooner rather than later, but right now I can’t. I’ve been forcing myself to get out and socialise which I think has been helping. Apart from the times when I over-analyse a conversation and have that “oh shit I blew it they think I’m crazy why did I say that” moment, it’s really made me more confident in myself. I enjoy being out and socialising so there’s always that benefit, it lifts my spirits and makes me happier – being in a positive frame of mind definitely helps how I feel about myself. If I’m doing things I enjoy I tend to feel a lot better, common sense right?

I still struggle with the romantic side of self-image and trying to date again. I’ve been out of it for so long and it feels like a massive jump back in, where I don’t know where to begin. This is my current battle, while my colitis is surprisingly under control after Nepal, and I attempt to meet new people. I’ve thought about trying to meet other people with IBD since they understand the situation but while I wouldn’t mind that, I get the feeling that is almost like succumbing to the negative self-image issue. Do I have a defect that makes me undateable for “normal” women? Do I have to date solely within the defected pool? Or am I good enough despite the defect to date whoever? After all, we’re all defected somehow.

I’ll let you know how it goes.