Building self-esteem, overcoming depression

By Rianne, Resident from The Netherlands

RiannaLeading up to my stay at the New Life Foundation

My life has pretty much always had a zombie-like quality. I was numb to my own feelings, shutting down very negative feelings in order to cope with life. By not allowing myself to feel any real negative feelings, I also didn’t feel any positive feelings such as joy or happiness.

I became mildly, but chronically, depressed at a very young age (I must have been about four or five) and stayed so up until age 26 when I went into intensive group therapy for 11 months. This helped me gain a new sense of life and curiosity about its possibilities. I did well for a few years and decided I would like to help other people in their paths towards self-discovery, so I began studying to be a social worker.  However, in my second year, during an internship, I found that I still suffered from the same low self-esteem that had controlled my youth and I was filled with anxiety. I compared myself with others all the time, which made me feel worse.

A few months ago I was surfing the internet, looking for a way to spend my summer that might make me feel better. I stumbled on the New Life website and reading it gave me hope. I quickly decided that I would like to go to New Life and sent an email to the Foundation.

At New Life

I have been at New Life for almost two weeks. My first impression was that people here are very open-minded, respectful and interested in one another. The whole place seems to radiate serenity. There are eight other residents.  We take workshops together, and sometimes, in addition, with volunteers and guests.

The workshops are very interesting and teach me quite a bit about myself as well as about others. The most challenging are the meditation workshops, where we have a guided meditation for 30 minutes. My legs go numb because I’m not used to sitting crossed-legged for such a long time. I work to endure the fear I feel when this happens.

What I really like and appreciate about New Life is the sense of equality between residents, volunteers and staff. The friendship that can exist between members of staff and residents is really extraordinary, especially when comparing it to what it is like at recovery centers at home where “professional distance” reigns. What I also value is the individual approach to Life Coaching. There are quite strict rules but, if for some reason, a rule is not very useful for a certain resident, then an exception is made. This makes me feel I’m being taken seriously as a person with needs that may differ from those of others.

I still have almost five more weeks to go, before returning home and resuming the internship. I am working hard on improving my self-esteem and feel hopeful and faithful that I will go a long way in building up enough self-confidence to be a happier, more independent and more resourceful person for the rest of my life.

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