Hello my friends, I’m learning how to overcome low self esteem.
In September of 2020, I accomplished my very first 20 mile day hike, 23 to be exact. It was something I did not believe I could do, something among a huge list of things I don’t believe I can do. Starting this blog was another one. I’m a living example of someone who has let the fear, depression and anxious thoughts get to my head and destroy my self-esteem. I’m not standing for it anymore. I’m going on a journey. I was recently interviewed by a hiking and mental health blog, Endure Life.
My journey is to overcome low self esteem and believe in myself again.
My journey is to overcome my health issues: depression, anxiety, leaky gut and it’s resulting auto-immune symptoms (fatigue, tendon inflammation, low energy, poor digestion). Hiking is a huge part of my regimen to earn back self confidence, prove to myself that I CAN and heal from the traumas that formed my beliefs that trigger my anxious thoughts. Below is my interview, questions bold and italicized. Welcome to my journey, I hope reading it makes a difference for you too.
Table of Contents
- My Introduction
- A little about me
- How mental health/illness has impacted my life
- Positive outlets & how I discovered them
- Nature’s role in recovering from mental illness
- 3 things I’d put in a self care box
- How social media is impacting mental health
- Quotes that have helped me in hard times
- Advice for someone who is struggling
- Learn More
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Lizzie. I’m a blogger, youtuber, and content creator working to be a living example to people who don’t believe in themselves by learning how to believe in myself after a whole lifetime of low self-esteem. I’m a recovering perfectionist who, although I’ve always loved the idea of the phrase “you’re never too old to follow your dreams,” never took it to heart. For a long time, I allowed the endless list of reasons why I “CAN’T” to stop me, the fears, the insecurities, the imperfection and doubt.. until NOW.
I’ve always struggled with depression and anxiety, but did some work with a counselor and some books back in 2013 which led me to my first real trip out of the country. I had my first taste of wanderlust and overcoming fears. I felt like a new person, I couldn’t believe I had just left my country for 6 months ALONE to go somewhere I didn’t know much of the language. I felt brave. Things were finally looking up, but I was blindsided by a heartbreak, followed by health issues, that sent me into a downward spiral.
I was sent back into my negative thought patterns, perhaps even deeper than before and I felt like I would never climb out.
My brain is fantastic at the “it’s too hard,” “it’s too much work,” “you’ll never make it,” “you’re not good enough,” “you’re too old,” excuses, but I’m finally putting a stop to it, re-learning how to overcome all of that and start chasing my dreams at 32 years old. I recently traveled to Washington to remind myself of my love of travel, exploration, and hiking with the goal to prove to my brain that I CAN hike every day without triggering my stomach issues or tendinitis. I did it and it caused a chain reaction in me which led to my recent accomplishment of hiking 23 miles in one day. If you know me, that is a HUGE deal.
And now, like popping open a good can of Pringles, I CAN’T STOP. I’m hiking almost every weekend to remind myself what I’m capable of, I’ve launched my blog and I am working daily to make it to my dream of online income, location freedom, and being an example of overcoming the mental health battle. (Back to top)
1.) How has mental health/illness impacted your life?
I grew up with a mother who had autoimmune issues, depression and anxiety and a father who did not know how to demonstrate the slightest bit of empathy. We never knew if he had any mental health issues as well, as nothing really sent him to get diagnosed, but he was a checked-out workaholic doing his best to provide.
I never viewed them as happy; they argued a lot and I was always subconsciously learning from them, even though I was usually fighting for a different opinion at a very young age, trying to stop their heated arguments and trying to “rebel.” I was home-schooled for a good chunk of my early years and not exposed to many differing viewpoints.
It’s difficult for me to include this in my story because I know they did their best and I have nothing against them, but I know this would be hard for them to read if they come across my blog. They were also very critical perfectionists; things had to be done a certain way or it wasn’t “right.” Ironically, not a lot got done. ::Laughs::
Unbeknownst to me, I subconsciously adopted their negative mentality and also suffer from anxiety and depression. I’ve even had a few bouts of adrenal fatigue, where I had zero energy, which only compounded the negative self-talk. Coming from a people-pleasing upbringing, not having energy is like hell. I can’t get anything done? I’m WORTHLESS.
It’s sent me on a self-healing journey to discover the root of all these thoughts that swirl and fix them one by one. But in a brain that thinks 60-80000 thoughts per day, that’s a process. Anxiety really sends your brain straight to the absolute WORST CASE SCENARIO. Like, it’s illogical almost and without a lot of inner work, you don’t even realize you’re doing it.
For example, when I had a nose bleed from whacking a door on my face growing up, Mom’s instant reaction was basically “WE NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL NOW!! IT MIGHT BE BROKEN!” (Can they even do anything for a broken nose?). Something is always wrong. When I get in relationships and notice a pattern of behavior in my partner that changes randomly one day down the road (even though it might be as simple as he sent a shorter text than usual), my brain automatically thinks “OMG, something is wrong, he doesn’t love me anymore. Did I do something wrong? Is there another girl?” Anxiety can literally make you feel and appear crazy!
Depression makes you not care about… anything. It’s almost like being a zombie, you’re walking around dead. Nothing you love is fun anymore, you literally care about nothing. Like, you could tell me the house is on fire and I’d probably respond with “oh well” or something ridiculously checked out. I could be in bed all day just staring out the window or sleeping. I don’t care about my friends; I don’t believe I have friends! It’s almost like the anxious thoughts got so out of control that the only way to control them was to shut everything off. It’s really interesting how these go hand in hand. Sometimes I think it’s really held me back from my potential.
There’s a tiny piece of me that understands what I’m capable of, which you would think is self-confidence, but anxiety and depression turn that into another reason to beat myself up. See how much you COULD be doing? Why haven’t you? What’s WRONG with you? These are some of the unintentional thoughts that come up. It’s really robbed me of self-confidence and it has been a struggle to learn to believe in myself. It’s like a cycle. I finally learn to believe what I’m capable of and then my brain makes that a problem too. ::Laughs:: Sometimes you just have to laugh at how ridiculous the brain is.
In order to change it, I have to do the opposite of what my brain tells me in order to prove it wrong and then develop a new belief. I have to both prove that I AM worthy, no matter what– no matter if I ever get to do “everything” I’m capable of or not, but also that I AM capable of things. If that was confusing, welcome to anxiety and depression. It’s like one side of me believes I’m not capable at all (and I have to prove that wrong) and the other side thinks I AM capable but haven’t done anything so what the fuck is wrong with me? Exhausted yet? Yeah… (Back to top)
2.) What are your positive outlets and how did you discover them?
Hiking and camping in the most beautiful places with AIRPLANE MODE ON. I actually camped for the first time on my trip to Guatemala in 2013. It was cold. We had the wrong equipment. (For a list of the right equipment, see end of post). I couldn’t sleep worth shit. My anxiety had me believe that I was going to need to get lifted out in a helicopter or die in a foreign country, but one of the guys held me to stay warm and we ended up falling for each other.
I think that helped me stay positive that night, but I also was SO proud of myself for surviving and somehow still loved being in nature by a fire, despite thinking that I might get hypothermia or not be able to hike back out the next day. Once I got out and slept for 14 hours, I was proud, really proud. And I had this weird urge to camp again!
Fast forward to 2015, our relationship had ended- it wasn’t healthy. I was giving up everything to try to save him and he was not saving himself. Depression and anxiety will give you the greatest mercy for other people sometimes, but almost to the point where you give yourself up for someone else, which is also not good because it could retrigger your own mental health struggles.
Now I was seeing someone else who had always wanted to camp, so I convinced him we should go. When we ran into relationship problems, I noticed we couldn’t have an important conversation without it turning into a fight and having my anxiety go CRAZY… UNLESS we were talking and walking in nature. Somehow, all our problems seemed to shrink and we could communicate if we were outside walking. When we ended, I went into an even worse depression than the one before him, but took what I had learned to heart, which leads to my answer in the next question: (Back to top)
3.) Do you think nature plays an important part in recovering from mental illnesses?
110%!!!!! My anxiety is so much calmer when I’m hiking and staring at a breathtaking view. It’s like, the only thing I have to do is put one foot in front of the other. When airplane mode is on on my phone, I get no potentially stressful distractions. It’s just me and nature. At home if I don’t sleep well, it’s a battle to get out of bed and be in a good mood. When I’m camping, if I don’t sleep well one night, I still feel okay the next day because I’m immediately surrounded by beauty. Nature doesn’t really care. I don’t feel pressure to be anything when I’m out there.
I can have hair that’s unkempt, toenails without polish, dirt under my nails, unshaved legs and still feel beautiful. I can be in a bad mood and that’s okay! I think that’s important when overcoming these mental illnesses: not having the additional pressure of people trying to change your mood or tell you to be positive; UGH the social pressure to be positive is exhausting.
Nature is just there; arms open, never judging. It is always rewarding! You can walk just a mile and nature rewards you. You can walk 20 miles and nature rewards you. It accepts you exactly where you are. Somehow, that gives me the strength to overcome my own thoughts because I’m no longer worried about others. (Back to top)
4.) If you had to create a “self care box” for yourself, what would be 3 things you’d put in it?
- hiking and camping gear– I go almost every weekend now and would go more often if I could afford it! My list of gear at the end of this post!
- a select group of friends who accept me no matter what, make me laugh so hard and are as wierd-tastic as I am, making me feel like it’s 100% okay to be me
- Chocolate. Everything is better with chocolate, even camping. 😀 (Back to top)
5.) How do you feel that social media is impacting people’s mental health?
Oh man. Don’t even get me started. I have a love/hate relationship with social media because on one end it’s what has inspired me, showed me and motivated me to see some cool places I’ve never seen before, but on the other hand it’s been torture. It’s a tool for easy self-sabotage. Comparing your life with the highlighted life of someone else. Having exes pop up in your news feed having a blast doing something you feel like you introduced them to while you’re sad and miserable in bed over the break up? TORTURE. Having people misunderstand one of your posts and publicly shame or attack you? There’s nothing worse.
Social media can be a real breeding ground for poor self esteem. I find myself wondering how many people who were already struggling were pushed past their breaking point by a post online. We have less of a filter; it’s so much easier to say something without thinking. I definitely think this takes an impact. I think it’s also allowing us to get very divisive and that’s not good.
We are all people with a background doing the best that we can based on the experience we have had and I think that’s very easy to forget online. You’ve really gotta be resilient and completely happy with your life no matter what in order to regularly utilize it. (Back to top)
6.) What is something that someone has said to you that has always stuck with you when overcoming hard times?
Hmm.. It’s hard to say because I’ve been in dark times where almost nothing sticks and the things people say to be positive and try to help just turn to more negative thoughts. “Tomorrow is another day” is something I like when I’m feeling good, but when I’m in a dark place, my brain would respond with “I DON’T WANT ANOTHER DAY. I’M TIRED OF BEING ALIVE!” and it wasn’t a helpful phrase anymore. Or something my Aunt would say “Search for the silver lining” to which my brain would respond “there is no silver lining.” It’s tough. Mental illness is tough and it’s different for everyone, no same thing will help every individual.
Honestly I don’t think that there’s a specific phrase for those really dark moments because my brain comes up with a counter for all of it. I think the most impactful thing anyone can do or say is just be there and be present and remind me that I am loved. When I get to points where I have suicidal ideation (thoughts of wanting to die), there’s a piece of me that knows that’s not an option because people would be sad. And I love those people and can’t do that to them.
If no one had accepted me no matter what and reminded me that they love me, who knows? I wouldn’t have anything to counter my brains “no one loves me” thoughts. So I would say presence is definitely more important than having a perfect phrase. When I’m in that dark place, I can come up with a counter-phrase for almost anything someone says to me, so really just hugs and acceptance I think leave the biggest impact. (Back to top)
7.) What advice would you give someone that is struggling?
Go to the mountains. Walk. Breathe. Don’t make ANY big decisions while you are in this state. It will pass. I think it’s hard to give advice because I think each individual is having a different experience. Like I said, mountains help me calm down. For some people, it’s weed. I hate weed! Some people really like journaling and I think it can be helpful afterwards when you’re reflecting on your thoughts, but for me- my brain gets in such a twist- I won’t even write if I grab a journal during a bad anxious or depressive moment. I’ll just get mad at myself for not having anything to write! ::laughs::
Lastly I think, I would share these two long quotes. One is from one of the anonymous coaches in the Life Coach School scholars program that replied to one of my “I can’t do this anymore, nothing works, I hate me, it’s never going to get better,” type of posts; it really lit me up and was exactly what I needed to hear and I think it could help others as well:
“You have beliefs about yourself, though they are not beliefs that are serving you. You are worthy, capable, and 100% loveable right at this moment – exactly as you are. Nothing you do can increase this because it exists in it’s fullness today. No one can grant it to you because it already exists within you today. It is okay that you don’t fully see this yet. Keep going. When we have negative thoughts that we have thought over and over, we create a negative belief. Be open to believing that you are shifting these beliefs.
“Let’s add a generous dose of curiosity and compassion to this mix. What is ONE thing that you like about you? Don’t let your brain off the hook here. Don’t say ‘I don’t know.’ One thing, my friend. The way we move from self-blame to self-responsibility is to see and embrace our humanness. We are going to get it right half of the time, and mess it up the other half of the time. Our lives are made up of 50% comfortable emotions and 50% uncomfortable emotions. This doesn’t change your worth. You are not a problem to be fixed, you are a worthy human that has value. We can see this, we believe in you.”
It’s like they knew exactly what my triggers were because 100% I adopted the belief that something is always wrong or something is a problem (including me) and this just made me melt. The other quote I’d like to share from the same program, by the boss lady herself, Brooke Castillo, is this:
“Most people think about lovability as something determined by how good you are– how lovable you are. This is completely wrong. Your lovability is absolute. There are no dimensions to your lovability. You are 100% lovable, period. You are lovable now as you ever will be. You don’t need to do anything differently or be different to be loved more. Here’s why: your being loved is not about you. It’s about the person loving you. Your lovability has to do with the other person’s capacity to love you, not who you are as a person.
“If your parents didn’t love you, it was because they didn’t have the capacity to love you. Don’t blame yourself for someone else’s inability to love you. The same is true if you are loved tremendously. It’s an indication of the person loving. Not you. You are as lovable as the person’s ability to love. The only thing that can change how much someone loves you is their ability, decision, and capacity to love you. So relax. You are infinitely lovable. You always have been
“But you will only FEEL that love if your ability to love yourself is high. If you have the skills and good programming of loving, you will experience your 100% lovable self. If you don’t have those skills, you will miss out on the experience. This is also true of other people. Other people are 100% lovable. Whether you feel that way toward them will depend on your ability to love. The higher your loving skill, the more love you will feel towards more people. It will not depend on how they behave, it will depend on your ability to love unconditionally.
“I believe that the ability to love is one of the most important skills when it comes to feeling connected to others. The more we are able to love them, the more connected we feel. The more we love ourselves, the more we love others, the more connection we have all around.”
And we can all learn how to love ourselves. <3 I hope these resonate with you as they have with me. Much love to all!! (Back to top)
This interview was brought to you by Endure Life, a blog and clothing store built to raise awareness around mental illness. Make sure to check them out and buy some of their super cute clothes and accessories. They donate 25% of all profits to mental health initiatives. Here’s my top 2 products that I’m dying to own:
Lastly, I mentioned earlier in the interview about not having the proper gear for my first camping trip, which I have since learned A LOT about the importance of packing properly for a backpacking trip and wanted to share that with you in case you’re getting ready to go for your first time!
This is my go-to list of backpacking gear, with changes here and there depending on weather and other factors. To better understand how to pack for a backpacking trip see my post here. And if a day hike is all you desire, check out my post about day hike essentials here. Enjoy! (Back to top)
- Samsung Galaxy S20 & Tripod
- Nemo Hornet 2-Person Tent
- Nemo Disco Sleeping Bag
- Nemo Tensor 25 Insulated Pad
- Sea-to-Summit Bag Liner
- Nanopuff Puffy Jacket
- Altra Lone Peak Hiking Boots
- Black Diamond Spot 350 Headlamp
- Black Diamond Zip Lantern
- Platypus Evo 3L Hydration Bladder
- Katadyn BeFree Water Filter
- Smartwool Zip Top 250 Midweight Base Layer
- Helly Hansen Rain Jacket
- a lacrosse ball for in-hike massaging
- Ultima Replenishers Electrolyte Powder
- KT tape
- REI sock liners
- Compression socks
- Smartwool socks
- microfiber towel
- Trowel & toilet paper/trash bags
- a generic pair of sport shorts, a tank top, & sports bra
- some winter pants found on Wish (link for similar product)
- odor proof bags
- anti-critter bag
- trekking pole (no longer sold- link to new version)
- first aid gear (see first aid post
- Quechua 50L Backpack (no longer sold- link is to updated version)