Coffee with Esther (June 2022)

May is such a beautiful month. It’s the start of warm weather. Birds making their nests in the trees. Flowers start to grow again as they get ready for summer.

Photo by Debadutta on Pexels

The Virtual Coffee Breaks have also grown and blossomed over the month. The last session was exhilarating. It’s starting to feel like we are becoming a family. So many topics were discussed from weather to funny bladder stories. But one topic popped up and hit a nerve with me (excuse the pun): Confidence! 

I used to be a fun loving, empowered woman. I could stand up in front of hundreds of people and give a lecture (just part of my job). I loved parties, going out to concerts, and abseiling down a building. I did it all. I lived my life to the fullest. 

One year in with Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM), my self esteem took a massive hit and I went into a downward spiral. I was going to have to live with this condition for the rest of my life. My confidence was knocked in so many ways. From the way I looked at myself to what I could achieve in my life now. My confidence was so low. Asking for help when I used to be so independent, or using mobility aids, made me feel embarrassed and incomplete.  

But then I realised the more my confidence decreased, my condition seemed to get worse. I had more flare ups, and I felt like giving up. After talking to my counselor about how I was feeling, we agreed on a pathway to help me love myself again. 

Here are a few ways you can build up your confidence.

Body Confidence:
Look at your body. It is a warrior. You are in this together. You can fight this. You and your body can control this. 

Negative Thoughts:
Every time you have a negative thought, you need to turn it into a positive thought. For example, if you’re thinking “I can’t do this any more,” say to yourself, “I’m doing my best” or “I can do this even though it’s tough.” Many days you can hear me telling myself, “Girl! You are a survivor, now go, and give it your best shot”. And that’s just to start my hobby, somedays. 

Gratitude and Positive Words:
Write down daily what you are grateful for in your life, and a positive thing about yourself. Now, when I feel my confidence is slipping, I go and look at my list. It gives me a boost. 

Mindfulness:
This is one of the most amazing things I have found to practice. It’s great for anxiety and depression, by making you feel in the present. It grounds you and makes you let go of the worries and negative thoughts. I use a mindfulness app or YouTube to relax me. It’s the best sleep I seem to get. Even though it’s only for about an hour, it’s a restful one. The advice given is that you should practice this every day. Keep at it, even if you think it’s not for you. 

Over the months, the ‘ME’ that I onced loved was slowly coming back. I realised I can still make people laugh. I still have a smile. I can enjoy life again. I won’t lie to you. I still suffer with anxiety every now and then. Although now I’m in control of it, and I know how to relieve it.

The best thing you can do is surround yourself around positive people. People that will encourage you, care for you, and not judge. You’ll find such people in our Support Group on Facebook and the Virtual Coffee Breaks. After every coffee break I feel so happy and elated. I hope everyone else does too. I hope we make you feel part of the Myelopathy.org family.  

So confidence! It comes from inside you. You are in control. If you make time for yourself, and remember to love yourself, your confidence will shine. And it may just help you cope with your condition. 

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

If you need a little boost, why not come and join us in June/July:

  • 9 June at 11am GMT
  • 16 June at 2pm GMT
  • 23 June at 6pm GMT
  • 7 July at 11am GMT
  • 14 July at 2pm GMT
  • 21 July at 6pm GMT

Please visit the Support Group for up-to-date information on the Virtual Coffee Breaks. 

I hope to see you all soon. 

Esther x

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