7 Steps to Feel Better about Yourself

It seems like I have struggled with self-esteem in one way or another throughout my entire life. I can remember it started fairly early, as a young lady in middle and high school, comparing myself to other girls. I was too fat (and still am), my hair was too thin (and still is) and I didn’t fit in with the cool kids (and still wouldn’t). In college, I isolated myself in my studies and a few select relationships (the cool kids still weren’t that into me) and as a young adult, I found myself drawing a comparison in what I now know to be an all-too competitive job market. I continued to doubt my appearance (I needed to lose weight and wear my hair down) and found comfort in friends that weren’t the norm (I realized there was no such thing as a cool kid, anyway). I realized health was more important than appearance and running, for the first time since well, ever, gave my self-confidence a much needed boost. I treasured my family (of the two- and four-legged variety) and realized it didn’t matter so much what others thought about me as long as I was loved by them. I was getting somewhere – I started a career where I worked hard to be among the best in the field and, I even liked myself again.

I liked myself for about two and a half days when a blood clot in my lung (PE) not only almost killed me, but drastically changed how I thought about myself once again. I went from healthy, active and content with my life to gravely unhealthy, unable to walk unassisted and living in a state of constant turmoil. Relationships suffered, I lost my job and any faith I had in myself to be a valuable human being. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t function. Not working, I felt like I was not contributing to society and surely found what I could do was eat – the pounds piled back on and the warfarin pretty much killed any liking I had for my already way-too thin hair. I know I should count my lucky stars (okay, star) that my hair is still there, but the changes I saw in its color and texture – along with a severely discolored leg that will never see the light of day again – made it nearly impossible to find even one thing physically appealing about myself. I was a blob, barely existent and unable to see my way out of the darkness. My emotions were bruised – anxiety, fear and depression set in – and the energy needed to be happy were not worth the energy I did not have. I was sick, I was tired and I hated myself.

I found that the blow to my self-esteem was different than being fat in high school or at the bottom of the class curve – this blow was far below anything I had ever experienced in my whole life and one I hope to not experience again. It was devastating, it was overwhelming and it was deep. It is pain unlike any other –even the physical pain that comes with a PE. There is nothing anyone can say or do to help or make you feel better. When you are met with one obstacle after another, it’s easier to give up than to fight and there were times when give up was exactly what I did. It hurt too much, I was too tired and to me, it didn’t matter anyway. I think you reach a point when you just can’t take anymore – then more comes your way. Grief sets in and consumes you. You can’t see a way out, and for some time, there is no way out. I spent a great deal of time (the better part of a year) wholeheartedly believing my life would never, ever get any better than the moment I was in right then and there – consumed by pain, grief, sadness and anger.

It was not easy to get out of the darkness I was enveloped in and believe me, I still spend frequent periods there, but I can see a light. I know there is hope because I am a survivor. I am here for a reason – whether it is to raise awareness about blood clots, to help others, to spend time with the ones I love or something more adventurous like travel the world and bring awareness to those less fortunate than myself – I am here for a reason.

So, how is it that things started to turn around for me? Gaining back your self-esteem is not something I believe someone else can tell you how to do. It’s personal and it’s different for everyone. Although we share common threads of recovery, fear and sadness – our stories are inherently different because we as human beings are different.

What I do know is that reading stories about others, who had made it through similar challenges stemming from life-threatening or chronic illness, helped me to realize that there is hope for me to do the same. It started with a good day here and there – a sunny day that I was able to enjoy, a kind word from a friend, a good hair day or a job interview. Slowly, very slowly, I began to recognize pieces of the old me and of my old self-worth. When I found them, I nurtured them and sought out others to do the same. Maybe it came in the form of writing an article about blood clot awareness, providing support for someone still in the hospital or taking a walk in the park (that didn’t end in tears). As I started to allow myself to feel appreciated and valued, others did the same and from there, I have begun to build back my self-esteem.

It has been a scrupulously slow and painful process. And, almost as important as getting out of that horrible place lacking self-worth, self-care and self-love, is what you do with it once you start to break free. I have found that nurturing my self-esteem has been very important. Even if it is one small step at a time that I focus on, it helps me feel better about myself.

There are some simple steps you can take to feel better about yourself. They don’t have to be monumental (yes, they may look that way now) and they don’t have to happen right now. If you are ready, give them a try. If you are not, start thinking about them and when the day comes that begin to recognize how important you are, you have a plan for nurturing that significance.

7 Steps to Feel Better about Yourself

First, let me give you a peek into my steps:

I wanted purple hair. And I got purple hair. I have never done anything drastic with my hair. Purple hair was a huge change for me. As not quite the societal norm, it was a huge risk for me (I play by the rules). I saved up a little bit of money (once I had some coming in again). I didn’t ask anyone’s opinion first (okay, I texted my sister from the salon, but lucky for me she didn’t respond in time and I went through with it) and I went to the salon by myself. An afternoon just for me. I had a blast with the ladies there and left with a gigantic smile on my face. It was different, it was daring, it was the perfect boost I needed to like myself just a little bit more.

  • Step 1: Make a change. It doesn’t have to be big for the rest of us, but it has to be big for you. It has to matter to you. It can be as big or as small as you want it to be. [Ideas: Get your hair or nails done; buy a new outfit; make a new friend; start a new exercise program; redecorate that space you’ve been meaning to; consider a career change; learn a new skill; start a new hobby]
  • Step 2: Take a risk. Do something you wouldn’t normally do. As my best friend likes to say “Go big, or go home.” Do something exciting for you. [Ideas: Cut or color your hair drastically; travel to a new place; eat a new food; pursue your passion; do something you wouldn’t normally do]
  • Step 3: Do something entirely for yourself. No ifs, and or buts about it. Do what you would like to do. Only for you. Don’t worry about what others will think (just this once). Enjoy yourself.
  • Step 4: Create a cash fund to do it with. Chances are, your steps might cost a little money (although you can make it as inexpensive or expensive as you would like). You don’t have to spend a lot of money, though. I know how hard it is to come by extra cash when you are paying medical bills and worrying about income. Save a few dollars at a time, skip lunch out or take $5 out of your paycheck each week to save up for something special. Or, plan your steps at no cost.
  • Step 5: Take small steps. If you don’t have the money for steps right now, plan something that doesn’t cost anything (think rearranging the furniture in your bedroom, writing that poem you always dreamed you would or learning to use Facebook) until you can save up for something that does.
  • Step 6: Tell the world. You did it! Sharing (maybe even in the form of a picture, hard, I know, believe me) really makes you feel accomplished and excited about the steps you have taken. Your world can be big (the internet) or your most intimate family, but tell someone.
  • Step 7: Repeat. One through seven. You’ve got them now!

You can do this. I know you can. Has the purple faded from my hair? A little. But, the boost my self-confidence got from the experience was worth it’s weight in gold. I’m already saving to go back!

Share your story. Are you struggling with your self-esteem more since your DVT or PE? Does it seem hopeless? Have you taken any of these steps to help yourself feel better? Tell me about it in the comments or commit to take a step today!

There is hope for healing and you are not alone,




  1. I love this! Love it! I know how hard you have worked to get to this point. Thank you for sharing something that has been such a tough and personal (and ongoing) journey/battle and what you are doing to overcome! And, yes, GO BIG OR GO HOME! Love you!

    • Yup, you would be the friend I was referring to. 😉 Thank you so much for reading and for your support. You know it means the world to me! This is not easy for me to talk about and I am so glad this post could make an impact.

      • Another and most important step in the process would be to silence the ‘voices’ in your head. You know the ones I am talking about. They are the voices you hear over and over telling you for example, you are not as good as the others, or why did you eat that second cupcake? Those voices are created by you. Get rid of them. Every time they come into your head put up a stop sign. Eventually, you will control them and they will totally disappear. They did with me. Good Luck to all.

        • Yes, Betsy! The voices in our heard can be very damaging and also hard to dismiss, especially the negative ones. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this – you raise a very important point.

          • Thanks, Sara.

            What I am working on now is to find out why, at 70 years of age, did my DVTs and subsequent PE happen for the first time in my life? It may be that three months before my first DVT, I used my large laptop, for extended periods, on my lap. The EMF can interfere with our DNA. There are so many wireless devices all around us, and we’re electric ourselves.This has to affect us greatly. Other than that, I was way more sedentary than I had been for 30 years, due to a parasitic infection. It may have been parasites in the blood that triggered the DVT. I have been seeing a Naturopath because I have not gotten anywhere with regular MD’s. My Naturopath feels that I very possibly can get off coumadin… That would be great.

          • Hi Betsy. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. For myself, I also wonder how a lifetime of poor (sometimes unknown) eating choices can contribute to what is a huge metabolic storm later. I hope you can find answers and yes, eventually come off the coumadin. Thank you again for sharing. Have a great week!

          • Hi Sara,

            I am also not able to lose weight recently, even when on a healthy diet of just organic fruits, vegetables, good fat and grass-fed, free range chicken and beef, no dairy. I have sought out a naturopath. ( I had long before cut out artificial sweeteners, sugar, gluten and wheat. Before the doctor can adjust my thyroid medication, he has to fix the adrenals. He informed me that the stress in the adrenals can be held on to for years. He and I also believe that parasites may have gotten into my blood stream which may have triggered the DVT/PE He is of the opinion I will be able to ditch both the thyroid medication, which currently isn’t working very well, and also the coumadin. Both of those would be great.

          • Hi Betsy. I appreciate your input greatly. I am on the search for a new endo as in 9 years, mine has yet to help me. I know it has to do with my diet. I cut our dairy, most grains and sugar. I know my body needs to heal before I can fix my thyroid. Thanks for sharing with me and helping me realize I am not alone even in that journey! I’ll let you know what I find out. Currently on the search for a new doctor….

          • Hi Sara,
            What my Naturopathic Doctor (BTW, they undergo medical training like MDs. Mine went to Naturopathic college for 7 years,) tested me for was adrenal fatigue. I know my thyroid is off. In order to cure the thyroid, you have to cure the fatigued adrenals first. My body temperature used to hover around 95, for years, then 96 for years. Now, after I started increasing my iodine to 100 mg a day and my L-tyrosine, My temperature, taken 3 times a day is almost 98. You take your temperature 3 hours after you get up and then repeated a couple more times, spaced out. He tested my adrenals by having me lie down and then taking my blood pressure, and making me get up to a standing position where he tested it again. My blood pressure dropped 67 beats. He said that was because of fatigued adrenal glands. He is having me take 1000 mg or vitamin C and Panothenic acid, twice a day. Also, I am taking an online course, The detox summit, online. (You can still see it if you catch it quickly. ) It addresses how to get rid of the heavy metals we all have, which cause havoc on our bodies.

  2. Adolfo Gomez says

    Great post. Thank you for the inspiring words.

  3. Great article Sara and I LOVE your hair!! How do you think it would look on my (almost) 64 year old head if I did mine purple? I’m thinking about it …..the one thing I would add and this is about me personally is don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day …. if you only have a good MOMENT during the day that’s progress because I know for me and seemingly just about all of us things look prettyy grim during a PE or DVT lot of dark times when we are scared and feel discouraged ….just seeing a glimpse of sunshine can be enough if we accept that a glimpse today may be an hour tomorrow and be grateful for it …I realized one day I had gone a while not scanning my body for aches or pains in fear of another PE ..I was like “hey I almost feel normal” (whatever that is) … and I know that although today might be good tomorrow may not be …the point is not to beat yourself up as I have had a tendency to do if you don’t have a good day ….alls you can do is try …after all none of us asked for this illness/condition but I believe there is a reason for everything if we just treat ourselves as kindly as we try to treat others … thanx again Sara of the purple hair …you are a true warrior!

    • Thank you so much for everything you said, Kathi! And, for the record, I think purple would look fantastic on you! You could always do a more subtle purple like I did to start. They had hot pink and neon green too so if you look at it that way, I still feel like I took the safe route! 😉

      I think you raise a very important point about not beating ourselves up over bad days. I have done that so many times – and still do – and it really can ruin your day and make you feel that much worse about yourself. It’s amazing the clarity and joy that we can find – when we stop looking and just let things be. At least, I feel like I have found that to some degree.

      Hope you are well,

      Sara of the Purple Hair 😀

  4. Karen Deadrick says

    Love your HAIR.. You are too cute. Thank you again for inspiring and encouraging us to take baby steps. As well as I am doing post DVT/PE, I am still not the same, some days I just miss myself.

    • Aw thank you, Karen. That puts a huge smile on my face today! I completely understand how it feels to miss yourself. Some days I still wonder where I am! As with any part of recovery, I feel that my self esteem takes a step forward and then a few steps back. That’s why baby steps matter so much. It’s easier ground to gain back again! Take care.

  5. You MUST have KNOWN about my “inner health” yesterday Sara!
    YOU LOOK GORGEOUS, LOVE THE HAIR and you have BEAUTIFUL eyes and lips – a gorgeous girl in EVERY way!
    I had SUCH a miserable day yesterday, felt like putting my head in a gas oven, but mine is electric!
    Watching my body for every “new sign” , got a big bruise on my other leg now where I hurt myself, feel a lump there but not painful, nurse who comes to take my blood says DONY WORRY the Warfarin will dissolve it.
    Got a bad right shoulder with semi torn ligaments, spurs and severe inflamation, had cortisone injection and when I was in hospital with DVT/PE it came good but now lots of pain again got trouble sleeping.
    Worry about each new pain but after reading your lovely encouraging notes this morning I thought:- “RIGHT” I AM GETTING A NEW MATTRESS and my hair done”
    Something different and new.
    GREAT AND ENCOURAGING post…………maybe I will sing while I make my breakfast, you have a GREAT day and THANK YOU so much for your encouragement.
    Lots of love,

    • Very inspiring Sara hope I get that far one day x

      • You will Sarah, I know you will! I imagine your wedding will be a big and positive change in your life. My wedding day was also a big self-confidence booster. I felt very beautiful that day and I know you will be too. Thinking of you.

    • Thank you so much, Monique! I have really considered myself or or accepted “gorgeous” easily, but the lady that did my hair said the same thing! I’ll work on letting that sink in – along with learning to like myself again. I’m blushing though so, really, thank you for that major boost!

      I am sorry to hear of your miserable day. You KNOW I have been there and probably will be there again. Today started out okay, but it’s gone downhill as the day has worn on, as I find sometimes happens. That’s why reading your compliment has really made a difference today. I hope I can inspire you in the same way someday – maybe with this! 🙂

      I did not get my hair done for SO LONG after I was in the hospital (over a year) and even though it may seem like such a small thing, hair really does make a big difference! I hope you are able to get yours done soon and maybe a new mattress will help you sleep a little better. I feel like I have struggled with sleep ever since my PE. I wake up still or in pain or sometimes I think I am having a nightmare that it is happening again and then it takes me some time to fall back to sleep. I have anxiety, which seems to keep my mind going later than it should!

      I hope you sang a beautiful song, Monique!

      Take care and talk soon.

  6. Awesome post!! Thank you.

  7. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this. I was euphoric when I first left hospital but 3 months later depressed beyond belief. Your post was the first thing I’ve read in the six months since my DVT in my right arm and multiple PEs that made me realise it is normal to feel these feelings. You also reminded me there is hope and I can turn the corner -and will. Thank you!

  8. Jan Pearson-Jenkins says

    I appreciate your candor. I had thinning hair after my recent PE on March 26, 2018. I didn’t know that anyone else had this problem. I have been in and out of the hospital for the past 3 months (cardiac cath; upper gi [found and AV malformation causing blood loss; blood transfusion; and a hospitalization for severe chest pain). I still have the blood clots. I went to see a psychiatrist and psychologist. I was put on an antidepressant which really helped.

  9. You just described me to a t. Thank you for sharing your an inspiration and I don’t feel so alone. I had 2 large blood clots one in each lung. Nobody seemed to understand how tired I was and I got called lazy which infuriated me. It takes a long time to heal from such a blow to your health. Anyway, thank,you for making me feel I wasn’t alone in feeling how I feel.

  10. Carla. Ramírez says

    I was diagnosed with dvt disease n my left leg about 1 and half years ago. I am still dealing with self esteem, and anxiety issues. I recently have begin to use yoga as an exercise and anxiety reliever do you have any ideas to help with other anxiety issues. Thank you

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