Building Self-Confidence…not always easy

Dance of the Tulips oil on canvas

If you've been following me for any amount of time you may have noticed that I lack confidence and suffer from social anxiety. I've struggled with this all my life and it's definitely a handicap when trying to achieve my goals. 

I can remember the first set back I encountered at the early age of seven. I was given the opportunity to test for AT, academically talented, now called GATE. I was so excited to be among this elite group of peers, but when it came time to take the test, alone in a room with the proctor, I froze. The questions coming from her mouth were jumbled and my head was spinning. I couldn't focus let alone get the words out. Being put on the spot has always been a challenge, to say the least. I remember standing in front of my 6th grade class in a spelling B, just me and another classmate left. Do you think I wanted to be there? No! I was terrified and remember thinking, 'time to misspell a word and get myself out of this!'. How many times I've failed in order to get out of the spotlight. I can't be alone. Am I? 

This month is Mental Illness Awareness Month. It's something that not only I've been affected by personally, but I have many close friends and family members who suffer from various mental afflictions. There's nothing wrong with talking about it and you shouldn't be ashamed. I believe much of it is caused by nutritional deficiencies and should be treated accordingly. I found out about 2 years ago that I have Celiac, an inability to process gluten. Because I had been undiagnosed for so long, possibly my whole life, I was deficient in essential vitamins which contribute to well being and healthy brain function. I'm sure I have a genetic disposition for anxiety and such, but fully believe that lack of proper nutrition for so long, has played a big role. I also have Hashimoto's.

I've researched the effects of these deficiencies,extensively and found that many brain related problems can be attributed to them(such as- anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and some other really scary things). Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 complex, zinc, selenium, and more are needed for healthy brain function. I was having major anxiety and panic attacks but have almost completely gotten rid of them from following my Dr. orders along with adding some other supplements I found through further research. I'm not a doctor, and I'm not saying that it will work for everyone, but it is working for me. I have never taken any medication for anything other than antibiotics, I've done it all with my diet and supplements. I eat a clean Paleo diet, which is not processed foods, and all organic and non-GMO's. Grass fed beef is important although I don't eat a lot of red meat, only because it's hard for me to digest. I was having a lot of other issues caused my my auto-immune issues (Celiac and Hashimotos) and borderline arenal fatigue), like rashes, dizziness, extreme fatigue, allergies to almost all foods, and many other things. Right now, I can say I feel better than I have for years and am almost without symptoms (besides my undiagnosed sjorgren's) I may have other things going on, but I feel good! One other great benefit that I just realized yesterday is, that I no longer have seasonal pollen allergies! Every year since I was 21, come springtime, I've had major allergies for a few weeks; sneezing, headache, dripping nose, drowsy feeling…no more! 

I know I still have pretty bad social anxiety sometimes, but at least I know my brain is getting what it needs now. There's a lot more to it than I've written here because it's so complex, but this is just the very basics of what I've learned. 

Ann Tran wrote a great article about building self-confidence that has some great tips on living a healthy life and developing good habits for building your self esteem. It's based on Allan Loy McGinnis' 12 points about building your self-confidence; a must read. 

So if you're still reading this…(I know, I've gone on a little too long, and said a little too much) maybe there's another person out there who feels the same way as me. Maybe they won't feel so alone knowing they are not alone. 


Flash forward to May 13,2020...It's hard to believe I wrote this post in May of 2014. Something made me look at it again...not sure what it was. Re-reading this is both difficult and encouraging at the same time. Mental health is more important than ever now in dealing with our current pandemic situation. How are you staying healthy? I've gained about 5 pounds but am still eating gluten free...no longer paleo though and I feel it some days. I have not had a panic attack since 2013, although I've felt some serious anxiety recently, keeping me up at night. I had no choice to eat gluten free because of Celiac but I still feel very strongly about how a "clean diet" not only benefits your physical health but mental health, as well. I will add to this the importance of daily exercise and meditation. I walk every day but have not made a habit of sinful meditation yet. I know how much I need it but have been stubborn. Do you have some tips? I'd love to hear them! Stay well everyone! 

PS...The tulip painting is no longer available but here's a link to my latest


Sheila said...

Jennifer, you are so brave to share all of this with us. Give your self a high five! Really. I am sure that your honesty will help others to feel better, and perhaps to look for some answers that work for them. I to believe that diet plays a huge part in how I feel about myself. It took me years, but I finally made the discovery.
That test sounds like a nightmare! Torture! A stressful situation to be sure. Now they know so much more about testing and how different learning styles are best served. (hopefully they are put to good use.)
Your work is wonderful! I look forward to your posts.
Wishing you the best and continued success in building your self confidence. It takes time, and is a constant battle, but always try to concentrate on the good, and not the bad.
And remember that not all of the bright,and brash are really as confident as they seem. Some of them are just faking it ;)

I read an article years ago about faking confidence when you are not really feeling it. This is sort of along the same lines.

Enjoy your weekend Jennifer :)

Susan said...

Hi Jennifer...

Good for you making life-altering changes in diet, etc.

You took action and that is nothing short of wonderful!

You are immensely talented and I think your paintings bring joy and love to the world. How awesome is that? Susan

Blondie's Journal said...


I never got the "drift" that you had these issues. I can commiserate. Panic attacks and anxiety starting in high school...lack of confidence forever. 30 years people didn't talk about this, people were ashamed to seek help in any way.

I'm so happy that you have found a healthy way to deal with everything. I've gone a different route but we all have to find what works. And the key word is "works". No one should live with something that takes the joy from our lives. Thank you for being so honest, my friend.


Vicki said...

Very good post, Jennifer. Keep up the good work on yourself. I had panic attacks for the first time in my life about a dozen years ago. My childhood asthma had been in remission for years but came back in my 40s with a vengeance due to a number of issues, not the least of which was the discovery of mold in a rental house I was living in; the situation was complicated and I couldn't move, so I was living in some fear of the whole thing. Asthma can be a double-edged sword, different in person to person, but sometimes it's anxiety that can bring it on, but the disease itself can cause anxiety because, after all, you're struggling to breathe. I'd forgotten what it was like to have the airway problem on a daily basis and I had to learn how to have the disease again, this time as an adult...management of it, triggers, etc. I was able to staunch the panic attacks within about six months, which was fortunate. In my case, prescription medicines for anxiety just made things worse although I know they greatly help others and are necessary. Emotional support from my husband and family and friends, daily exercise, forcing myself to settle down to read a book for relaxation, being productive (in your case, I'm thinking painting is a healthy tool); all of these things helped me get back some control. I don't like worry and fear grating on me; who does? It takes more work for some people than others to deal with worry and anxiousness; it's not a small thing. I try to stay very aware of anxiety levels, to nip things in the bud when I'm feeling overloaded because you can go down that wrong path so easily again. My former family doctor struggled with some heavy problems while holding down a very busy practice - his handsome young college-age son had life-threatening disease which he's since triumphed over - and, at the time, I asked him his secret and he said he just worked really hard to under-react to every hit coming his way. This was helpful advice to me because I would tend to OVER-react to things, which is something I have to still curb.

Terri said...

Thank you for sharing. I appreciate your post about this and have forwarded it to both my adult daughters, who suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, depression, etc...I truly believe also that diet plays a HUGE part of all these issues, sometimes it is not all about pills/counseling/therapy, although a combination is sometimes helpful with some people. Again I truly appreciate your post and your willingness to share with us. That in and of itself is a big accomplishment!!! Keep up the good work. Hugs Terri

Jen Beaudet said...

Thank you Sheila! I believe in that too! Fake it til you make it. I was given that advice years ago…but it's hard to stick to sometimes. I do believe in my art and that's helps. I sure appreciate your support! …and I'm glad you look forward to my posts!:)
Thank you for taking the time to write, it means a lot to me! Thanks for the article too!

Jen Beaudet said...

Thank you Susan! It definitely wasn't an easy road giving up all of foods I was used to but I had no choice. I thing it may be harder for someone who isn't seeing a direct reaction to what they eat, to realize that it's causing problems. Sometimes it takes years for things to build up. Thanks so much for your support! I really appreciate it!:)


Jen Beaudet said...

Thank you Jane! I should have added , in this post, that it's important to do what works for you. The diet changes aren't going to fix things overnight so I believe nobody should suffer. I'm glad what you're doing is working for you! It's so hard dealing with these problems and feeling like you're alone, but good to know we're not! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! I appreciate you and your support over the years! :)


Jen Beaudet said...

Hi Vicki! I can imagine how asthma would cause a panic attack! That's how it feels when I've had them. My air is restricted and I start to shake. I too learned how to overcome them through my thoughts…but it's hard when you think you're dying! haha I can laugh know, but it's a terrible way to live. I believe my body was lacking in vital nutrients that help regulate the endocrine system. My adrenals were failing and all kinds of things going on from years of not absorbing nutrients. Emotional support is vital and you're right, painting was (is) great therapy! Getting out and living helps too! Not over reacting is the key, and living in the moment instead of the past or the future…just being present. Thanks so much for all of your support! You're very appreciated!:)

Jen Beaudet said...

Hi Terri! Thanks so much for stoping by! I'm so happy that you're going to share this with your daughters and I hope it helps. I also believe that you need extra support of medicine and therapy sometimes. I was actually afraid to take pills because I was having so many allergies! This is why I had to do it naturally with food and supplements. I didn't want to add to my problems. I took a natural herb mixture called "Rescue Remedy" when I needed to clam down and learned to control my thoughts. It's not an easy road. Thank you for your support!


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