The Power in the way we Think

Posts tagged ‘lived experience’

What does it mean to have self-esteem?

Hi everyone! I’d like to introduce you all to Sharon, who is an interior designer and Life Coach. She has had some pretty intense experiences in her life and her self-esteem has been impacted as a result. She has made big changes in her life and now she does what she loves in a beautiful part of the country she now calls home.

Sometimes the biggest, most traumatic events can affect your life for a long time. And it’s often a series of small, seemingly insignificant events that can help you turn things into a completely different life.


It’s a tricky question to answer as the answers will be as individual as people themselves.  For me, having self-esteem means that I live to my own set of values and not those imposed upon me by others – by religion, by the government, by my family or friends.  It means that I am confident enough in my own skin to know that my opinions count, that my voice deserves to be heard and that I am worthy of happiness, just as I am.  Yes I could be 10 (okay 20) kilos lighter, I could exercise more and eat more healthily.  I could spend more quality time with my children and husband and less time on Facebook.  I could read more educational books and less young adult fiction.  BUT, would any of those things make me happier?  Maybe, but maybe not and if I did any or all of these things, for whom would I be doing them?  For myself or for the acceptance of others? 

Blog Chicks sharon chisolmFor many years, as the result of a violent upbringing, I felt like a fraud as a child, feelings that continued as I grew into adulthood and even after I had children.   I had spent years growing up trying to hide the truth about who I was – a scared young girl who felt isolated and worthless and a big part of who I was as an adult was still led by that scared young girl.  I sought attention in the wrong places and from the wrong people and it took me roughly twenty years to realise that it didn’t matter how highly anyone else thought of me, I still felt worthless.  

Back in 2010 I won a coaching award from a prestigious organisation – Best Newcomer Coach of the Year – the judges were all renowned Life Coaches in Australia and New Zealand.  However, for a long time I felt as though I had cheated somehow and persuaded the judges that I was far better than I actually was.  I thought that perhaps they had given me the award out of pity or because they had no-one else to give it to.  I didn’t put my award up on my wall because I felt as though I didn’t deserve the recognition.  It didn’t matter how many people told me that I had helped them because I thought they were just being nice. 

A year or so later I had a big “a-ha” moment and realised that most of my feelings of self-worth, or lack of it, stemmed from my childhood.  I realised that I had grown up feeling like a fraud and fearing people finding out the truth about who I was and what my life was like.  In that moment I realised that I had had no power as a child – it was not my fault that my upbringing was the way that it was and that I did not need to feel shame or guilt because of it.  I was able to let go of those feelings and know in my heart that I had done what I needed to, to protect myself.  So I started to be real about who I was, about my feelings, about my depression following the birth of my children.  I started to speak out honestly about what I had been through and it was incredibly liberating.  I discovered that my voice deserves to be heard and that by sharing my experiences, I am able to help others to free themselves of their own limiting beliefs and feelings of worthlessness. 

sharon chisolm robin williams

Understanding why we behave and think the way that we do is, in my opinion, the first step to gaining control of those feelings of self-doubt and self-loathing.  If we are able to understand why that little voice inside us speaks to us the way that it does, then we can manage those thoughts and find our path to self worth and greater self-esteem.  Having high self-esteem does not mean that you are arrogant or narcissistic, it does not mean that you think you are better than everyone else, it simply means that you recognise the value you bring to the world and to the lives of those around you.  It means that you understand you deserve to be treated with respect  and love and that you have abilities and gifts that can impact the world in a positive way. 

I now display my award with pride on my office wall, because I know that I do make a difference to the lives of others – fellow business people, my clients, my friends and family and most importantly, to myself. 


Sharon Chisholm The Restful Nest Profile Photo (1)Sharon Chisholm is the founder of The Restful Nest, an Interior Design business and The Organisation Coach, a Professional Organising business specialising in working with women business owners.  An award winning Life Coach, Sharon’s passion is assisting women to achieve business success through effective time management and organised living.  Sharon moved to Australia in 2002 from the UK and now lives on the mid-north coast of NSW with her husband and two children.

Sharon’s business and blog can be found at, which focuses on Interior Design and Professional Organising. Her Facebook page can be found at

She has recently begun another page called The Organisation Coach  This new page is a focus for women business owners who struggle with organising their homes, businesses and lives, and tackles self-esteem issues around these things.

I’m sure Sharon would love it if you took some time to visit her pages and sent her some love.

Depression – Andrew Solomon

We have had some amazing feedback so far with our focus this month on Mental Health. One of our followers posted a link of a TED talk she resonated with after reading our most recent post. This was the one from Debbie, our guest blogger from Sad Mum Happy Mum, explaining what it was like for her living with depression.

The follower that shared this like noted that it felt really weird for her to have Andrew Solomon, the guy giving this talk, explain his experience with depression. The weirdness came from hearing words out of his mouth that mirrored exactly her own words, especially when she was unable to articulate it herself. I bet that is a strange feeling!

Have a look at this talk for yourselves. It is a little lengthy at a little under  30 minutes, but it’s also engaging and the time seems to fly. At least it did for me.

How does it resonate with you? Does it mirror your experiences? Or does your depression look a little different? Let us know your thoughts below. 🙂

Living with Depression

I would like to introduce you all to Debbie. She lives with Depression on a daily basis and battles it and other mental health conditions. She is a mother doing her best to parent. And because of her mental health, she advocates for others who live with similar conditions. She has a great blog filled with informative information, so please head on over and have a look around. Details can be found below. I hope you all get something out of reading her story here.


“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she can see the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.” – Unknown 

There was an end to the childhood/teenage years spent in a household that was unloving and at times abusive at the hands of my Mother whose only way of expression was through her hand and use of a dressage whip. There was an end to the marriage that involved cheating, prostitutes who were more important than me, physical abuse, mental abuse, controlling, and constant hurt. There was an end to the years with the fireman who could not commit and had to keep me as his secret second life. There was an end to the jobs that involved colleagues that chose to bully, discriminate, and use my depression against me because it was easier to mistreat me than ask if I was ok and help.

There were ends to these parts of my life.

What hasn’t ended after decades of severe depression, bipolar disorder, and general anxiety despite various treatments, medications, appointments, and counselling this insidious illness has not shown any end in sight, light at the end of a very dark tunnel, and is a battle that just keeps going and going.

Not a day goes by that the cage that surrounds me, depression, doesn’t have an impact upon my day. After many years with depression, anxiety, and mania have come to terms with the fact that I will always be burdened on a daily basis by this illness. The following will detail how depression, bipolar and anxiety impact upon me.

Depression – the theory, if you can call it that, is once you take medication prescribed for depression your mood should lift or at least improve. When you undergo electro convulsive therapy (ECT) which involves electrodes put on the right side of your brain that pulse an electric current through the brain stimulating the brain to increase neurotransmitters and therefore chemicals in the brain to improve your mood. Despite these measures, trial and error with medications not a day goes by that the feelings of depression don’t haunt me, shroud my day, take my smile, or leave me house bound with a deep sadness that doesn’t lift and takes from me my ability to go about my day.

depression lost yourself

Mania – Mania is the other end of the spectrum from depression.  It is a feeling of elation, high energy, the feeling you can absolutely do anything, and the ability to do anything.  My manic episodes are not so frequent but when I do have them they last days sometimes weeks and because of how mania makes you feel I go like a mad women the whole time, do a million things at once, and feel like I am superwoman.  While some would say this would be a good thing because at least I am not depressed, it is only a matter of time before I come crashing down, and when I do crash it is with a big bang.  The end of a manic episode is complete and utter exhaustion, at times making me physically sick, and on top of that depression hits me like a tsunami bringing me down in a big way, to the extent that I can’t work, can’t get out of bed, just don’t want to do anything because it is just incredibly hard.

bipolar manic

 Moodiness – Everyone is moody at some point in their day and week. It can be caused by tiredness, stress, relationships, work stuff, a whole range of things but when you suffer depression, bipolar and anxiety you are constantly on the moodiness rollercoaster.  My day can involve a range of different moods from being manic, depressed, angry, irritated, upset, and stressed, you name it and my day involves that kind of mood.  Along with dealing with this rollercoaster it is incredibly hard to manage and adds to the stressors of trying to get through the day, getting your job done, dealing with people, and just enjoying the day.

Anxiety – My anxiety involves racing heart, tightness of the chest and throat, the feeling you are being strangled, sweating profusely, shortness of breath, a feeling that you are out of control and something bad is going to happen.  It is neither easy to deal with or easy to get rid of.  While medication can assist in controlling the symptoms of anxiety they still occur in response to your natural flight or fight response, your response to fear or threat, and the circumstances around you.  There have been occasions when my anxiety has turned into a full on panic attack, and it hasn’t been pretty, and has ended with me in hospital until it can be brought under control.  Panic attacks or more precisely the fear of having a panic attack is also a contributing factor to anxiety and can literally cripple people into not being able to leave their home, drive a car, go to a shopping centre, a range of other things, usually linked back to the original source and environment of the panic attack.  I have been one of these people who hasn’t been able to leave the house for periods of time, can’t go to shopping centres, can’t go to social gatherings, and struggles at work.  Anxiety also affects thought patterns and self talk, leaving you with doubts about your ability to do things in your day.

Exhaustion – Nobody can operate when exhausted and when we do it is not at full capacity and our daily tasks are twice as hard exhausted trying to feelas what they should be.  For most people, exhaustion comes, they sleep and then it is gone but for me and many others who live with depression it is not this simple.  I believe my exhaustion is a combination of depression, lifestyle, and my medications.  Whatever the reason the effect of exhaustion upon me is huge, it makes my depression ten times worse, it increases my rollercoaster of moods, it leads to physical sickness, it incapacitates me for long periods of time.  I can sleep for 24 hours straight, sleep on and off all weekend, sleeping is all I want to do and it’s what I try to do any time I get the chance.  The problem is despite how much sleep I get I wake never feeling like I have slept, never feeling rested, and never feeling renewed to start again.  Exhaustion never leaves me, making my days extremely hard and long, affecting my productivity, my ability to look after myself, and sending me deeper and deeper into depression.

 Little to no concentration – Depression affects your ability to concentrate and for me it can become a huge issue, especially if I am at work.  When I have little or no concentration I find my mind wandering off with all its self-talk, finding myself with little motivation to carry on with my day, and struggling to get through what I need to do.  On one hand I want to get things done on the other hand it is like a force is pulling in me in the opposite direction so that I feel vague, disinterested, not motivated, and tired.  Sometimes the feelings that come from not being able to concentrate affect my level of depression, my mood, and how I interact with those around me because it leaves me irritated and frustrated with myself because I want to get things done but can’t.

In a nutshell these are the aspects of my life that depression has dealt me, this is the rollercoaster of most of my days, it is my constant battle, and how I end up having a major depressive episode because like a volcano there is only so much pressure from these that I can handle before I collapse in a heap. The Black Dog is invading my personal space, and I can not function mentally.  I would like to think that there is a cure for these, more importantly for depression, but unfortunately in most cases there is not.  We can take medications, we can see a therapist, a psychiatrist, a doctor or someone else, but we can only ease the symptoms, and hope for a reprieve from depression.  Every day I hope that my day will be easier that I will feel great and that everything will be a breeze but this is very rare.  Some day I have hope that it will get easier.


About Sad Mum Happy Mum

 sad mum happy mum depressionDebbie is the author of Sad Mum Happy Mum, which is the story of a Mum living with depression, and her journey to recovery and happiness.  Debbie is a single Mum of a 13-year-old son, a keen photographer, reader, camper and academic, and has lived with depression since her early teenage years.  Debbie’s experience with depression has inspired her to write a blog about her experiences and learnings in the hope of helping others with depression, as well as increasing the awareness of depression and mental illness, and breaking down the stigma attached to depression.  A strong advocate, mentor, and living example, Debbie is determined to provide a safe environment for other Mum’s to talk about their experiences with depression, and is working towards establishing a support group that assists Mum’s living with depression.

To read more from Sad Mum Happy Mum click here.

To visit and become a fan of Sad Mum Happy Mum visit the Facebook page here

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