acoa, adult children of alcoholics, mental health, mental illness, neurology, psychology

Self Esteem and Mental Illness / Mental Abuse in Childhood

Mental Illness goes hand in hand with having  low self esteem. It is a circle that feeds itself.

The inability to do some of the basic things that other people can do, has an effect on our our self esteem. On the flip side, the low self esteem creates more depression and interferes with the chemistry in the brain.

 Self esteem is “an overall emotional judgement evaluation of his or her self worth.”  Wikidpedia

“It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, “I am competent,”   “I am worthy”)…” Wikipedia

“… self-esteem is “the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and being worthy of happiness… the sum of self-confidence (a feeling of personal capacity) and self-respect (a feeling of personal worth).” Nathaniel  Branden 1969

Dr, Brandon, author of many self esteem books, talks about a person’s belief about their own ability to face challenges. If a person is fully confident in their own ability to deal with challenges , then they have high self esteem.

When we doubt our own ability to effectively tackle the daily challenges of life, we have low self esteem. Depression can be made worse by the fear that we cannot function effectively.

Many people have come from families that want their children to be competent and have the ability to support themselves as adults. The children are encouraged to do well and succeed in school and other activities. The children were rewarded for trying hard, following through and doing well. Thus they developed a pattern of success and feeling good about success.

Some people had dysfunctional childhoods. They did not have a supportive encouragement that built their self esteem. Yjeu were not prepared for dealing with the challenges of life.

Not only was  not rewarded for succeeding, we were undermined. I lived with an alcoholic mother who would wake me up on school nights and interfere with my sleep. In addition to that, even though she had money, she did not keep enough food in the house that I knew how to prepare myself.

She would go out drinking after work and not come home until late at night. Many days I did not have enough to eat to be able to concentrate well in school.

In my perception, it was more of a priority for me to take care of her, than to take care of myself and my schoolwork. I had to take over the childcare and chores that she would not do. As far as helping me with homework or praising me for good grades, that was non-existent.

I have observed that many people with mental illness had parents that were mentally abusive. The constant criticism and lack of respect interfered with the normal development of self esteem.

“Brandon further believed ,”It (self esteem)  exists as a consequence of the implicit judgment that every person has of their ability to face life’s challenges, to understand and solve problems, and their right to achieve happiness, and be given respect.[7]”  Wikipedia

Brandon mentions the “right” to happiness. People that grew up in abusive homes, were taught that they had no right to happiness. The only person that had rights was the abuser.

According to this model by Brandon, a person with high self esteem,  feels that he or she deserves to be respected.

 A person must have experienced  “being respected”, in  order to feel that they  “should be” respected by others or even themselves. When children grow up in an atmosphere of disrespect , they have trouble as an adult having the feeling that anyone will respect them.

The feeling of not deserving respect is a condition of low self esteem.

A constant feeling that people will not respect you , will not like you, and will not value your input, can turn into mental illness. The brain chemistry is configured during childhood to have low self esteem, which causes thinking patterns that are not the same as mentally healthy people.

The brain can be rewired as an adult. We do have the capacity to develop self esteem that we were not accustomed to as children and teenagers. In order to do this, we have to somehow override the programming already set up in our brains, The neurons in our brains are re-trainable to wire differently.

It can take years to fix this problem. First we have to identify that we have a self esteem problem. Then we have to recognize that it goes back to our childhood or perhaps to an abusive adult relationship.

After that we have to decide that we are worthy of feeling good about ourselves and it is just incorrect programming of our minds that has been there for a long time. To overcome the emotional and mental injury of abuse, we need to be proactive for ourselves.

I have been doing some research about re-wiring the brain through some holistic methods. I will post some ideas in upcoming blog posts, For now, just know that you are special and unique. You are worth the focused intention from yourself that is required to become more stable and to feel better about yourself.

All of us who have been through trauma, need some extra help. We all have something to offer to each other in terms of support, encouragement and intelligent ideas for recovery.

Blessing to all

Annie

6 thoughts on “Self Esteem and Mental Illness / Mental Abuse in Childhood”

  1. I have always had issues with self esteem but have lived a very successful life until my PTSD and physical illness took over and I could not keep up with the norm. After years of hard work I have figured out how to live with it. I live very differently than the norm but no less purposefully. I think of my self as brilliant for learning how to meet my needs after a life time of living. I can finally look in the mirror and have love and compassion for who I see. What a gift and freedom to enjoy at the age of 55. IT was talk therapy that helped me to get to this point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your success story is an inspiration to others. Thank you for sharing this with my readers here. People need to know that others have overcome similar obstacles to the ones they are dealing with
      Annie

      Like

  2. Annie – thank you for the enlightening post. I could really relate to your passage quoted below-
    “The brain can be rewired as an adult. We do have the capacity to develop self esteem that we were not accustomed to as children and teenagers. In order to do this, we have to somehow override the programming already set up in our brains, The neurons in our brains are re-trainable to wire differently.”
    I don’t believe I was abused as a child, but for whatever reason, have a low self-esteem as well. I appreciated your post. Thank you.
    -Chris

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comments. I do believe it can be done. I have been doing some research about rewiring the brain through guided meditation and other methods. I am listening to an audio book now about this. When I finish the book, I will post a review.
      Blessings,
      Annie

      Liked by 1 person

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