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Mental Health

How I’m Recovering from Emotional Self-Sabotage and Self-Destruction

The global pandemic kicked off at the end of my senior year. That left my classmates and me without a senior skip day, without a prom, and an interesting attempt at a “normal” graduation. I vividly remember sitting alone in the middle of my room with my prom dress on, sobbing over the number of experiences I’d deprived myself of before the world came crashing down.

I kept telling myself that there was absolutely nothing I could do to change the past, no matter how desperately I wanted to. Those thoughts were amplified when I looked at it from a realist’s point of view. People were losing their lives to a virus and I’m worried about all the high school parties I didn’t go to?! Not only was the entire situation shitty, but I felt shitty for having the thoughts I was having. 

That was just the problem, though. I was invalidating my own feelings. All I had to do was acknowledge – not justify – that my thoughts were selfish and minuscule while still allowing myself to feel. I never gave myself the go-ahead to actually understand my own emotions and feelings. Since I’d already forbidden myself from crying around anyone at age 13 as a result of being called a crybaby my whole life, I was disregarding my emotions in solitude and suppressing them when I was around others. This (along with a multitude of other factors) caused me to fall back into a very deep depression, accompanied by frequent anxiety attacks. I hadn’t ever experienced depression and anxiety to that extent, even though I’ve struggled with depression since I was around 13 and anxiety since I was a toddler. I was too self-destructive, which explains the extreme mental and emotional breakdown I struggled through in December of 2020 – which was undoubtedly rock bottom for me.

So, how exactly do I work on healing?

Well, that’s what I still have to figure out. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m trying to heal, rather than simply cope. Here are three things I’ve been practicing that I feel are helping me on my journey to healing.

1) Songwriting

I’ve always listened to music to cope, but now I write music to heal. I’ve found that relating to what someone is saying in their music isn’t always enough. Songwriting is a sort of escape for me because I hold it so close to my heart and it’s truly such a personal thing. I cherish the songwriting process so dearly because I get to express myself through something I’ve been in love with since I was a child. It always feels so good to be proud of something that I created, even if I don’t necessarily put it on display. I must realize the value of what I think rather than always putting what others think first.

2) Affirmations

I also started saying affirmations every morning to speak positivity into the universe that I’ll hopefully be lucky enough to reap all the benefits of. Being nice to myself isn’t something I can say I do a lot. By literally incorporating my affirmations into my morning tasks, I’m setting aside time to look at myself in the mirror and be positive. I can already tell that is going to have quite an impact on me because I’m deliberately including positivity into my everyday routine.

3) Purposeful Journaling

Finally, I’ve begun following my journals guidelines. I won’t just put all my thoughts on paper just to put them somewhere other than my mind. Now, I honestly take the time to explain and understand my thoughts and feelings. I’ve found that it gives me chances to forgive myself more often when I have reasoning behind it instead of condemning my thoughts, feelings, actions, etc.

Healing is not linear and it is not a quick process by any means. I know I’m going to have my ups and downs, but my reaction to these ups and downs are going to allow me to make progress and see how that progress affects how I live the rest of my life.

Wish me luck!

Chyna Childress is currently a sophomore studying under the College of Business at the University of North Texas. She's extremely passionate about music and mental health, which she plans to dive into in her articles.
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