Self-Doubt: When you don’t trust yourself

Self-Doubt: When you don’t trust yourself

By Liza Zoellick.

It’s not easy living with chronic illness. I speak from personal experience. You go through many stages as you process your chronic illness and new life. I think it is similar to the “Five Stages of Grief,” however, I think you can teeter-totter back and forth between stages, thinking you’ve accepted, only to find yourself angry again and then in denial. I think denial and self-doubt are a popular stage for us to find ourselves in and let me tell you why and how to get out of it.

The Descent into Doubt

Liza Zoellick

Even four years into my illness, I still have issues with self-doubt. This is partly due to four factors.

1.) Because there has not been a plateau of symptoms, I tend to feel vaguely like a hypochondriac. In the beginning, I had friends who said It’s all in your head,” when I shared with them another mysterious symptom. I hate when new symptoms pop up because I feel like people, even family will judge me.

2.) Which leads me to: People I share my diagnoses with find it hard to believe I have so many issues while being so young. They will tell me: “Oh no sweetheart. Just drink lots of water. You will be fine. Bless your heart.”

3.) Some of my illnesses are “new” in terms of how much they have been studied and so it can be infuriating finding info and the info can vary between sites. 20 symptoms can pop up on one site, while on another there’s 50, which leaves you scratching your head and wondering if these are valid symptoms or if you are “developing” symptoms because of your reading. But probably the biggest reason I find myself sinking into self-doubt is:

4.) Not wanting to accept the loss of that old self. It really is a huge loss that no one understands. It is this refusal to accept the loss that is the impetus to self-doubt (for me). If you aren’t sick, you don’t have to mourn the loss of a part of yourself. And if you aren’t sick, when those symptoms pop up, all you can do is doubt how it is you feel. Trying to push it under a rug.

The Unintended Consequences of Self-Doubt:

And how you can free yourself of it.

Denying you are ill can have very real and very unpleasant consequences. When you deny that you’re sick you are placing yourself at greater risk for over-doing it. It doesn’t make sense, just to prove you are not sick to overdo things and then need a week in bed to recuperate.

It’s really like torturing yourself.

Who wants to be tortured?

Any hands?

Didn’t think so.

You are also placing yourself at risk for ignoring symptoms that may land you in the hospital. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You don’t have to be strong, because you are strong already, getting up everyday and doing the things that you do just to live your life. There is also the danger of not getting the best diagnosis you can, if you are denying your symptoms and not sharing it with your doctor or not seeing a doctor at all. It is not a weakness to go to the doctor and you may end up feeling somewhat better after seeing one so you can try possible meds or therapies for what ails you. If you already have a diagnosis and are not willing to share new symptoms you are doing yourself a disservice because new symptoms can indicate a new progression of the disease or something new altogether that might change the course of treatment. Do not delay. Do not feel like you are complaining. One of the ways in which we can free ourselves of this self-doubt is believing ourselves. Believe in yourself and accept your illness and embark on a new path in your life that involves my most favorite mantra: “Face it. Embrace it. Defy it. Conquer it.”

Once you face it, you’ve crossed the biggest hurdle.

Take each one after that and you will be surprised how much power it gives back to you that chronic illness takes away.

Liza is a chronic pain warrior from Houston who has been chronicling her journey through chronic pain and illness on her blog: She is a frequent and valued contributor to the National Pain Report.

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Authored by: Liza Zoellick

Liza is a chronic pain warrior from Houston who has been chronicling her journey through chronic pain and illness on her blog: She is a frequent and valued contributor to the National Pain Report.

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Liza Zoellick

@Diane Succio: You will get there, it takes time and sometimes you teeter back and forth but you’ll be closer to acceptance than not. It may be a grudging acceptance but it’s acceptance nonetheless.

@Hayden: All I can do is whisper unto the wind that you maintain strength. You are stronger than you think. Don’t forget it.

@Terry: PTSD and pain are a very real thing. My PTSDs source is not from pain, but I definitely fear surgeries and have declared I won’t get another back surgery or any other surgery unless my life depends on it.

@Neldine: Thank you. Love and light your way.

@C.C.: I am so sorry to hear this. I do hope you get some relief soon.

@Maureen: You just gave me inspiration for another post! Always chasing the cure! I’m tucking that into ideas. Thank you for reading.

@ John” Thank you! I appreciate your words. Always a motivation.

@ Rae: Thank you too for such inspirational words! I do give it my best each day!

@Ladonna: It is the card we’ve been dealt and all we can do is try to get through each day with as much grace as we can. Thank you. Shalom!

@Notasheep: Thank you for reading and thank you for giving me another idea for a post. On the loss of my independence. Stay tuned!

I have suffered with chronic pain for decades. I have had self doubt because of the ” it is in your head” mentality, and over came it. I have tried several pain clinics not because I was shopping around but because I relocated. Some were horrible, some didn’t seem to care one way or another, some helped. I have had good doctors and bad. I have had to stop pain meds cold turkey for many reasons. From getting angry with care I was receiving & knowing if I didn’t stop, didnt snap out of it those that had control over my life would of drugged me out of existence, I have had Dr’s freak because the pharmacy challenged them, so they dropped me as a patient or stop prescribing. In the past few years my meds have been constantly lowered until I was spending my life in bed. Then I realized that I hadn’t tried everything in my power to take my life back. I stopped doubting myself and started making changes. I started figuring out what supplements were helpful and what meds I no longer needed. With the encouragement of my adult children I started using ZeroTHC CBD oil. The meds that barely gave me relief started working better because the oil reduced my biggest few problems, inflammation, pain and anxiety. With inflammation lower, my pain from it decreased and that let my meds work on pain from things like spurs in my knees, and non muscular pain. I don’t doubt the power of helping ones self because honestly, even though I now have found good Dr’s and good PT program, They all still want me as a paying patient. To be healed means they loose money, I have stopped taking meds for sleeping, anxiety, etc so big pharma is loosing too.
I took my life back by listening to my Adult children & trying new supplements and CBD oil. This next chapter of my life I call ” A Better Dawn” (as in sunrise) and I try to live by a simple statement. Everyone deserves a better dawn & restful night’s! I am not claiming that CBD oil can heal anything but I can tell you I now have more better days, restful night’s, and for the first time in along time I am working on building my own business (www. shopABetterDawn. com) , I am going to PT faithfully to become a stronger person and I no longer doubt myself or let pain rule my life. I still have bad days but day by day, I have A Better dawn & restful nights. I hope you can find hope and let go of doubt. Remember how beautiful a sunrise or sunset is. Stop doubting yourself, and start feeling better.

It’s been so difficult dealing with chronic pain quite taking pain pills get used to not being numb then the severe pain comes back look bad at being on the pills think which is worse pain or having to be numb live with guilt or feeling like pill head it’s tuff I take few pain pills a day now 2 be exact doesn’t really take all the pain but about tolerable I don’t ever want to be so dependant and vunrable again guess have take shots again I don’t know it’s really head game but this is the card I got dealt got to.find a way cope don’t feel sorry many way worse off than me you just wish go back be like used to be can’t keep going forward stumble get up find a way trust the Lord pray best way keep clear heart is take just enough meds keep out of pain displine yourself hard you can do it I hope this makes sense to someone out there rollar coaster enjoy the ride all I know God Bless shalom


On how this hits home. I worked, pardon the phrase, like a man. Not just being a nurse, but all that country life entails. Fix a roof, bury water lines, work on the car, chop cotton, bale hay…….you get theidea. Plus horses, cattle and my beloved dogs, all take\took physical work. I mourn for the loss of my independence, my strength and sheer will power to just take care of whatever needed doing. Just today I had fence what needed fixed, had be a real witch to get someone to do it. Now all crippled up from sheer anger at having to act that way. I get so frustrated that I cannot just take care of myself or my place. Sure would be faster! Lol, and now I am on here griping. Sorry y’all, needed to vent to those who understand.

Neldine Ludwigson

#4, oh dear Lord #4 is the hardest of them all. I was so limber and strong, could work as a cook all day, go home to chop wood and still take a hike. Now trying to get a cup of coffee can be a trial. Great article, thank you, wish you a good spell.


I asked my Doctor, Who benefits from all this prohibition and pain & suffering ?
He just shrugged? Meanwhile , More people are dying from O.D. heroin , not pills. So Why is this happening? I lost 42 lbs, weak and immune system down, caught pneumonia , with Nodules, PSA levels Up, Digestive track out of whack, Hormones out of balance, Now they think I may have prostate and lung cancer.
I had 2 doctors , now 6. And they all say it’s pain pills not PAIN. Jeff Sessions said ” People who complain of back trouble should take an aspirin and chill out.”
I am allergic to aspirin. I was assaulted and battered and Burglarized 6 or 7 X , but this has been the the Worst and longest assault , more like terrorized. Since I am a crime victim, to him I am a witness and dangerous!
There is something really fishy about all this. They Did Not Change the Current Pain Patient rights and or Laws ! They just broke them ! Like the mob or something. So now MORE people are dying ! hhhmmm,,,,do some research,,

Maureen M.

Hi Liza, as always it is so good to hear from you. I can relate to all 4 of your points!
Acceptance is something that took me a few years to get through with the ups and downs of 4 failed spine surgeries and a gazillion treatments (always chasing a cure) and psych therapy finally helped me see the truth!
Regardless, I continue to try different treatments or therapies in hope to lower my pain levels SOMEHOW?! Yet, still to no avail. Therefore, for me, acceptance is consistently ongoing in phases.
Thank you for reminding us that we are STRONG just in how we have to live this life in pain. Each day takes remarkable strength for sure!

A great topic that gets little attention.

After 31 years of Back Pain - Surgery - Tests - Every form of treatment known to science and still not taken serious by Doctors, Family and Friends.

I’m fortunate to have a few Doctors that know just how serious my condition.

As a Chronic Pain Patient I’ve learned that if I don’t open my mouth about my problems - I’ve given up and I can’t do that.

Very timely article Liza.

Thank you.

Diane P Succio

I’m still dealing with finding my new normal. It’s just so hard to find I can’t do what I use to do. I don’t complain to anyone how bad I actually feel. You can look at me and I look like a normal person. What people can’t see is what’s going on inside my body.
I get mad at myself at when I try to do something I can’t.
My husband knows when I hurt as he can see it in my face.
One day I hope I can come to terms with what and how a Surgeon ruined my life and got away with it.
I have a really hard time trusting any Doctor now.


I don’t doubt myself or that the pain I experience continuously now for 23 years can be managed without harming my health further. I do doubt the HHS, CDC, and especially DEA that the opioid medication tapering I have been forced to do without success of medically needing my original dosage is helping with substance abuse and overdose and forced tapering is definitely not helping my personal pain management. It has been a full year and one half since forced to 20 percent of the dosage that has allowed me to own and operate my business began 37 yeras ago. I am now on disability and the “form” of disability I was “awarded” is not accepeted by my current pain managment specialist. One of only two specialists I have had in 23 years. So the disability awarded me will not be acccepted by my specialist which is $300.00 every 8 weeks. That does not include any injections for spine surgeries that ruint my life……23 years ago. Thanks HHS, CDC, amd epsecially the gestapo, I mean the DEA.


That was very interesting information, I try to conquer my pain every day in my own ways. Unfortunately my pain is all too real and my mind can only do so much. Here’s something interesting, I have started seeing a chronic pain psychologist and some of my overall pain is from the 18 surgeries, soon to be 19, she suggested that I have PTSD, it sounded crazy to me at the time but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. Taking it a step further, I feel that there are thousands of people out there in the chronic pain world that may have the same thing, so maybe there may be a different way to approach the healing methods used by our doctors, just food for thought. It kind of goes along with facing your pain to feel better. Like my wife says, even if it only helps 5 %, hey that’s 5 %. Just some of my thoughts. I have a laundry list of very painful conditions and the worse I get, the harder I try. So thank you Liza for your post, words to live by.