My 5 top tips for finding self worth post diagnosis.

G’day everyone! And welcome to the first blog post of 2023!

If you have ever been diagnosed with an illness or disability, you would know the struggle to find a little peace amongst the hustle and bustle of appointments and constant worry that plagues your mind.

More importantly, your self-worth can quickly take a hit if you aren’t finding time to fill up your cup. It is safe to say that everyone, regardless of ability or illness, will struggle with self-worth and genuinely living an abundant life.

Dr Christina Hibbert defined self-worth as “knowing that I am of value, that I am loveable, necessary to this life, and of incomprehensible worth” (2013)

But let me ask you this, do you feel worthy of love, necessary to life and of worth? For a time or two, okay for many years, I struggled with feeling worthy of anything.

That’s because I grew up in a society that typically was ashamed of disabled people. Unless you were a para-athlete or someone who was deemed inspirational by doing seemingly everyday things, you were not worthy of a seat at the table. School as well as the media climate and social perceptions of disability confirmed that for me. I didn’t feel worthy of love or just life itself. I didn’t know what value I had to society

a photo of my feet on sand with water starting to come across my feet.

So to counterbalance that, I started to attach my self-worth to external objects and achievements and shoved my disability into the back of my mind. I felt worthless in my disability so by denying that part of me, my worth instead focused on what I studied, my grades, how much money I had in the bank, brand-name clothing, and who I knew.

For people in the disability community, the feeling of worth and even self-esteem takes a constant hit because of what society expects from you to ‘fit in’. If you are to be worthy of having a seat at the table, you need to prove your worth in the form of competition at international standards or extraordinary achievements.

With those, you have value and can contribute to society. Without them, your identity as a human being is easily stripped from you. You feel like an alien and quickly question your place in the world. I also think it is safe to say that, regardless of ability, that happens to many of us.

But how do you find your worth amongst societal opinions and external standards? But most of all, how do you find and retain your self-worth after receiving a life-altering diagnosis? When you receive a diagnosis, your life gets flipped on its axis and can very easily lead to feeling low worth as that burden feeling sets in.

me sitting on the grass by a blue clam shell small pool. I am holding out my hand to make sure a little duckling doesn't fall onto the grass

Over the last few years, I have started to pay attention to my self-worth and self-esteem and have been actively working to change my perception of how I view myself.

Also, I couldn’t be vulnerable on a website for the whole world to see, or branching out of my comfort zone by riding horses and trying new things if I didn’t feel worthy of all of that.

So how did I do it, you may ask? Well, I want to share with you my top tips or lessons that I used to help improve my self-worth.

Look after your body

This one may be self-explanatory and a touch cliche, given it is January, and everyone is about the health kick at the start of the year. But improving my self-worth had much to do with looking after my body.

When I started to pay more attention to my routines and habits, especially when I felt incredibly low and ugly, I noticed that everything about my body started to go down the drain.

One of the bigger things I noticed was my eating habits. Especially now, since I am more aware of how I am feeling, I see that whenever I don’t feel good about myself, I eat unhealthy for prolonged periods.

How did I change that? I started slowly implementing some movement back into my life. Having Muscular Dystrophy, I was very anxious about how I would exercise and move in a way that wouldn’t harm me. I used to swim as a kid, but gave that up when I got chucked into the main group of swimmers and not a para group. That took a massive chunk out of my self worth and confidence, as it highlighted my differences, which at the time I wasn’t comfortable with yet.

However, I am now working out upwards of 5 times a day, and for the most part I fuel my body the way it needs to be. I have tried calorie restriction and counting, and I found over time I turned that into a way of punishing myself because I was not too fond of the way I looked because I didn’t look like women I would see in magazines or on the runway; 6 foot, long legged tanned bombshell. So safe to say, I had to break up with calorie counting very quickly.

I also started to tell myself; my body was being put through the wringer thanks to muscles struggling to support it. You owe it to yourself and are worth it to look after yourself and treat yourself with love and compassion.

So I find my worth in ensuring I look after myself physically and mentally by journalling, eating and sleeping well, making me feel confident in myself regardless of what the scale or outside people say.

I know that everyone is different in terms of ability. Even just simple things like journaling, meditation and even a skincare routine make all the difference when it comes to looking after your body and mind!

Remove the comparisons/ competition

A photo of my yoga mat which is grey and has blue piping of words on the top. My legs are at the bottom on the photo and the words are at the top of the mat.

I think, for the most part, everyone gets into a frame of mind where they constantly try and compare themselves to others. Especially in the world of social media, where there are filters galore on photos, photoshop and general misinformation and people saying whatever they want, comparison and competition are next level.

I was fortunate to grow up when Facebook was still new, and Instagram wasn’t even invented. So I never had social media until I was 13 or so, and even then, I never followed people I wasn’t friends with at school (a tip for all you school kids!!), so competition wasn’t in the schoolyard.

However, it was everywhere else, apart from home. I would see models, magazine covers, and people constantly showing off what they were doing and how much money they were bringing in.

Then came the underrepresentation of disabled people in mainstream media. I never saw people like me. I strived and begged and Prayed to wake up one day to be ‘normal’ so that I would feel worthy of life and not invisible.

a book called Sacred Powers by David Ji and a cup of tea resting on a grey blanket.

So I started to define my worth in what I looked like, studied, and every other external factor in my life because that was what worth was and is measured by in society.

Through constant comparing and competition, I was turning into someone I didn’t like. Constantly thinking, ‘ if I do this, then I will be worthy of a seat at the social table’, ‘can they see? I will be as good as them. It was exhausting!!

So once a certain 4 legged 400kg animal highlighted to me that the worth markers people were using was having a negative effect on me, I really started to reevaluate what worth means to me. Don’t get me wrong, I was vaguely aware even before my time with horses started what value people were placing on things. Still, when you are mentally and emotionally run down to the ground, all it takes is the innocent look of an animal to show you what isn’t working for you.

Once I removed competing with everyone and looking for external worth and instead started to get comfortable in my skin, my self-worth took off. And how I did that came from my next tip.


me and the ever so handsome black gelding who was one of the amazing horses who helped me find my worth

I know again, this is pretty obvious advice. However, I honestly truly believe that you can’t do life alone. Okay, you can, but I don’t advise it.

I fought my family for so long when they said I should go and get help during my schooling days. I ended up having to find ways ‘by myself’ to improve my mindset. Don’t get me wrong my parents were and are so supportive, but even the best of people can reach a limit where there is nothing more they can say to help you. And I back my parents in for not dragging me to therapy, because the lessons I learnt served me into the next part of my life. But at the same time, I don’t recommend everyone doing that.

However, I have seen a psychologist, Equine Assisted Learning/ Therapy, for almost three years. Equine therapy has helped more than two years of psychology in finding my worth.

It has stripped me back, made me look deeply at myself and my thought processes, and ultimately become more confident in my disability in the last little while.

Surround yourself with decent people!!

An old photo of me on the beach. my hands are in my pockets and I am smiling to someone off-camera.

This is another obvious tip, but I am serious! Surrounding yourself with people who inspire and lift you is the best possible thing you can do.

As they say, your vibe attracts your tribe. If your vibe isn’t in the best positive space, your energy is all messed up, which I honestly think can lead to having people in your circle that want to keep you down because their self-worth isn’t where they want it to be.

Surrounding yourself with like-minded, positive and supportive people will make you feel valued, especially if one of your worth markers is having a group around you. Not to mention, when you are having a low day, they will be right there the lift you up, either physically or mentally.

Be completely and unapologetically confident in yourself.

A selfie of me in the car. I am looking out the window. I am wearing a blue off shoulder top and rose-gold sunglasses.

Again, completely cliche and obvious, but in a world that looks to external gratification, feeling confident in yourself is often forgotten. Too often, we get sucked into people’s opinions and judgments about us and quickly believe them.

I started to become confident in myself when I started to do a lot of work in healing old psychological wounds and doing things that brought me joy.

Something about being confident in yourself improves how you deal with appointments, people, and life in general.

Journalling has also helped in finding self-worth because it allows you to analyse what is and isn’t serving you positively and even process things that are going on in your world.

By moving, seeking help, doing things that make me happy and journaling, I believe you have the starting blocks to healthy self worth.

Me talking to one of the riding coaches at RDA. I am sitting on my horse while the coach and lead roper are standing near the horse.

So there you have it, my friends, my tips for finding self-worth. All of us go through very similar yet different experiences regarding our disability journey or even just life. But ensuring that you look after yourself and live life in between all the Dr appointments is crucial.

When society tries so hard to put you in an ableism box (not all the time, mind you!!) or a box to their liking, it is so easy to be told your worth. But I feel it is critical to ignore people’s opinions on your worth.

Because your worth should be defined only by you, you are worthy of so much, and your disability does not make you less. Embrace who you are. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Till next week,


1 thought on “My 5 top tips for finding self worth post diagnosis.”

  1. Linda Apelt

    Well writen as always.
    Still so much for us all to know and understand about living a day in your life of challenges.

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