• Caterina Sullivan

The Toll Illness Takes on Your Self-Confidence



One of the most confronting feelings for someone who has loved themselves for their entire life is to suddenly hate yourself.


For a while now, I have been suffering from emotional dysregulation. I have unprovoked mood swings, which can be quite interruptive to my life. It turns out there is an issue with my pituitary gland.


At first, the doctors believed the problem to be psychological, despite my hormone levels testing all over the place in my blood tests. So they treated me for mental health. That made me worse.


My mood swings are now so violent that I can barely function, and I hate the person I am. The federal election is coming up, and I love politics, and I have been looking forward to this election since 2016 - my life centres around three year cycles. However, I cannot be the person I love being because I cannot predict at what point my mood is going to swing. Plus, I have a number of physiological symptoms from my pituitary issue which are affecting my quality of life.


I have gone from someone rather outgoing and positive to someone who ignores messages and calls because I don’t know who I am.


People have abandoned this person I have become, which has made the adjustment even more impossible. It is hard to learn to love yourself as someone who is so unwell when even some of the people who love you cannot show that anymore.


I don’t want to be this person. It’s a scary feeling. I know as I speak about this, there are people who feel like this each and every day of their lives, and that breaks my heart. No one should ever feel this low. Doctors have given me strategies to help deal with the mood swings until they can find out exactly what is going wrong in my pituitary gland, but they don’t work when my physiological struggles are this real.


No one prepares you for this feeling when your health fails you. No one prepares you for feeling like you want to get out of the body you’re in and find a new one.


There was a time when I had an emotionally abusive partner when I really hated my body because I was pushed into thinking that by him. Luckily, I never hated myself, and after leaving that relationship, have never felt that level of disgust with how I look again.


This time, it’s different. This time, it’s my body that I hate as well as the person my condition is making me become. It’s suffocating. I used to look at myself in the mirror and see right deep into my soul and be so happy that I was the person I am. Now, I look into the mirror, and I see a stranger looking back at me. I feel like I’m living my life through a TV show in another language with no subtitles. I see me, but I can’t seem to make a connection with the person inside because I can’t understand what is happening.


The effect that physical health has on our emotional well-being is not addressed often enough. The stigma associated with mental health still cuts across when there are physical health issues, and something needs to be done to address this problem. I urge those who have been suffering from long-term or chronic illness to seek psychological counselling and guidance. Seeking help does not mean that you are any less than what you are - it just means you are aware enough to take steps to treat the very real mental health struggles brought on by physical health battles.

Authorised by Caterina Sullivan (2018)

PO Box 6157

O'CONNOR ACT 2602

Australia