How a Self-Esteem group helped Neeraj
A hectic lifestyle coupled with a lack of support left Neeraj’s self-esteem at an all-time low. But after attending a Community Living Well self-esteem group, he learnt to overcome his critical thoughts, change his internal dialogue and adopt a more self-compassionate outlook.
The Community Living Well Psychological Therapies service offers talking therapy or counselling that can help you if you are feeling stressed, worried, anxious or low in mood. We offer a range of therapy options, all of which are effective treatments recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence. We also offer a range of workshops and courses based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapies, including Mindfulness, Boosting Self-Esteem, Mood Boost and Stress Less.
To sign up to the service, please click here
Why were you referred to Community Living Well Psychological Therapies?
I was at a stage in my life where it felt like everything had piled up all at once. I jumped straight into a full-time job two weeks after I had finished my exams at university and was trying to find a house to move into in London with friends. I’ve suffered from anxious and depressive states ever since I can remember, but never got help for these conditions in the past. I was referred by my GP to Psychological Therapies. I found them to be polite, nice and understanding.
Within two weeks of meeting the doctor, I was called for a preliminary consultation. They thought the cause of my depressive state could be due to low self-esteem. They suggested that I attend a ten-week self-esteem group which brought like-minded people together to discuss and learn from each other’s experiences. I had always been curious to know if other people’s stories were similar, and if so, was keen to exchange theirs with mine, so I decided to take the plunge and join the group.
What attracted you to the self-esteem group?
I know that a therapist is trained in providing help to those that need it, but there’s something about having people in the same room as you who are tackling the same issues that I found to be extremely reassuring as it put some of my worries to rest. Once in there, you are reminded of how nice and open people can be.
Tell us about your experience of the group
I remember coming home after the first group and falling asleep on my sofa, completely knocked out for a few hours. I pushed through though and learnt so much about myself and others. It was brilliant to see so many people come together to help understand why our brains can default to an over-thinking cycle. There was laughter too, as by the fourth week we had become friends and were chatting about the latest books we were reading.
Were there any challenges from being part of the self-esteem group?
The challenging element was not being open with others, but in fact being open and honest with myself. To do that, you must try and confront your judgemental thoughts so that over time you learn to be less harsh on yourself.
What has the effect been like on your self-esteem?
I’m a confident and vibrant character and I love fashion and music, so when I share my story with people for the first time, they often stare at me in disbelief. But I’ve learnt to trust others and not judge myself as severely as I used to. Now I take a moment before I approach a task or attend an event to assess the impact it will have on my state of mind. My self-esteem has drastically improved, and with that, so have other parts of my life.
What was the most important thing you gained from the self-esteem group?
We were encouraged to take part in a weekly self care activity and share our experiences with the group. I still do one thing a week, for instance baking a cake (I actually learnt how to bake through one of these self-care activities.) I also take a few minutes at the end of every day to write down one good thing I have done. It could be as simple as picking up an item that someone dropped on the street as this signifies empathy. I also write down three good things that happen to me each day, that can range from petting a dog on the side of the road to landing a new job.
What advice would you give others who are struggling with psychological issues, particularly self-esteem?
You’re not alone, you’re not weird and it’s okay to feel the way you do! The world is a great place with you in it, and it will be even better when you take some time to look after yourself.
Do you have a plan for maintaining the progress that you’ve made?
When I get caught in a loop, I try not to think about myself as a burden and instead reach out to people who I trust and care about. I also do the activities I mentioned above.
Community Living Well is a mental health service for those registered with a GP in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, or the Queen’s Park and Paddington areas of Westminster. The services on offer include talking therapies, support groups, help with employment and support with debt, housing and benefits issues. Self-referrals can be made here. For more information please call 020 3317 4200.
This story was originally published in the Summer 2019 edition of the Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive inspirational stories of recovery, just like Jenny and Steven’s, straight to your inbox, four times a year!