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Everlasting Healing

It feels good to take care of yourself after a hard day. Your body needs rest to regain the energy to be productive. And sometimes, you need that rest to recover from burdening anxieties. Resting includes the activities you do for fun, for relaxation, and anything that puts yourself (mind, body, and soul) as the top priority. You get yourself back up and refueled. That’s why self-care is important for your well-being. It’s a form of therapy. You are happy in your zone and it’s a way to heal yourself.

I looked forward to special moments with my mother cooking recipes she saw online. She would make meals like pasta, eggplant pizza, tacos, etc. She loves trying new recipes. And she knows how to enlighten me while we eat her food. My mother smiles at me every time I get back home from school. It was worth seeing her cooking.

Then, on weekends, we needed to stock up on our groceries. I would go with my family to Costco and go down so many aisles, searching for all the ingredients for her new recipes. I liked to go to the bakery section, always looking for marked-down deals on the cookies, bread, and croissants so I could ask my parents for them. My mom would give me little tasks to find certain ingredients while she wandered through the clothes section. Then we would check out and eat at the food court, a greasy box of pizza between us on the table. I can remember the funny banter I had with my siblings, fighting over the last slice of pizza and walking up to the counter for our order. We loved to nag my mom to buy other stuff like the ice cream cups or the chicken bake. These moments were just as special as spending time with my mother.

When I had no plans with my family during the week, I interacted with online users who had the same interests as me. I used an app called Amino where I explored various communities. One community stood out to me and it was a gathering of many introverts. Many users were enjoyable to talk to, and we all related to our introverted struggles, partly due to our social anxiety. The long-hour chats I had were the best experience. I thought to myself, maybe I can make a series of posts about my life and explain my growth over time. So then, I established my first blog series: Introvert Relates. After school, I wrote anecdotes, the lessons I learned, and had an entertaining spin. I was inspired by the story-time Youtubers. They make their stories enjoyable with funny commentary, so I tried to add the same elements with Introvert Relates. The series lasted until 2020 with fourteen blog posts in total.

I received compliments from other users about my stories, and they made funny jokes about their social awkwardness. I was in my adolescent phase, hoping that I would make someone’s day better—more colorful. In my unusual way of blogging, it made a difference to them. It felt fulfilling to me. I loved seeing people react to my story and discuss each other’s experiences in the “Introvert Lounge” group chat. It was nice to let people know about my life with a touch of pizazz.

The moderators featured the blogs on the thumbnail of the community page. A lot of effort was put into this! I made thumbnails, organized my drafts, and advertised them in the community. Introvert Relates (rebranded as my alias internet username) remains a part of me and continues to live on through the blogs in LYF!

As I was preparing for each blog post, I used music to help me focus. The genre I enjoy the most is Lo-Fi and has become my way of healing. I was recommended by YouTube to a live video of Lofi-girl during High School. The video was a replaying GIF going on for many hours, but the music they played was relaxing. After staying at my high school until 3 pm, I walked back home with my earbuds on. I got to see the golden hour setting down on the horizon, smiling at a distance. The warm air and the soft breeze comforted me. This was my daily routine. I walked to school and back home through whatever weather conditions. A sunny, windy, or rainy day made me appreciate myself. I got to feel how good it is to be out with nature. I loved having sunlight beam over me. I loved the cold wind in the early morning as I looked out to the full moon. When you compliment it with music, it’s even better.

I would go to my park by myself and meditate. My therapist assigned me my first piece of homework, which was to control my breathing whenever I had intrusive thoughts. I had to control myself if I veered off from recovering; my breathing became my tool to stay calm. Relaxation played a significant role. I used an app called Calm, where I followed the repetitive cycles to breathe in and out. I closed my eyes and focused on my chest; my whole body would stay relaxed and not tense. When I ruminated about a bad memory I let the thought go like a cloud.

Healing is important to your health. You will feel better and happier. That’s why taking care of yourself is vital. However, the most difficult part is moving past your mental challenges.

The Rough Terrain

Anything bad that happens to me affects my worth. It’s like I criticize every single thing about what I’m not good at, what I regret, and how I don’t know better. Because of this, I created this world of mine that’s brittle and barren.

My depression made me accept I wasn’t good enough. My anxiety goes into overdrive because I fear the inevitable circumstances I’ll go through. I’m worried I can’t get my life in order because of my mental illnesses. A lot of self-sabotage and depreciation held me back.

All of this combined shows how much my world was riddled with fear and sadness. I believed there was no way I could recover from it. I told myself, “I don’t deserve to heal because I’m not good enough.” It was the worst thing I could ever say. My self-worth was all tarnished. What was I going to do?

That was one of the times I reflected. What was I going to do? Would I accept my brittle world to be just that? Continue living like I wasn’t good enough? It was difficult to get past that wall because I doubted myself a lot. Everything I belittled myself was true. Whatever happened in the past was the consequence of my actions. But, I started to realize what was happening: I was preventing myself from healing. I was so used to my degrading mindset that I never took care of myself.

The brittle terrain looked back at me. The wasteland filtered my perspective poorly. The sandy intrusive thoughts and the dusty anxiety gloomed over my life. I stared back at the terrain again. I’m still nervous about what will happen to me. I’m either going to be disappointed or take one small step to heal.

The Calm app I used helped me reshape my thinking. It’s about staying in the present moment. I worried too much about expectations and failures. I lived for the approval of others. Instead, I want to feel better. I want to know what it is to be happy. I want to feel the same warmth I had walking back home. I’m on my bed thinking to myself about memories and future worries. As I focused on my breathing, I told myself positive mantras.

“You are good enough.”

“I’m worthy enough.”

“I appreciate myself.”

“I love myself.”

The terrain’s windstorm stops. The dusty gloom dissipates. The sky is translucent enough to make a bit of sunlight. Darkness slowly brightens up the terrain. A part of me worries too much about what will happen in the future, but I let it slide. What’s left is the brittle ground that holds me down.

My depression sits next to me while I breathe steadily. It tells me it's exhausted from trying to feel better all the time. I continue to say positive mantras and reframe the thought.

“Even if it happened, I’m still good enough.”

“Even if I’m tired of failing, I still appreciate myself.”

“I still love myself. I deserve the love I have.”

The land slowly brightens up. The ground transforms. The rough exterior turns itself malleable. I’m able to walk around. My headspace feels more calm and relaxed.

Everyday Healing

It can be hard to move past many difficult moments in your life that feel as though they devalue who you are. They can be a culmination of your past mistakes to the regrets that overshadow your confidence and worth. You are fighting so hard to feel better that it’s hard to recognize what it feels like. Every mental struggle doesn’t become a battle. Sometimes it feels natural to accept the negativity.

Even then, it doesn’t have to be like that. You’re allowing yourself to feel good and live to be your own person. You have the chance to turn yourself around with small breathing exercises and self-care. Even the smallest things you practice are enough to heal. It’s everlasting. You will heal no matter what. You will change for the best of yourself.

About the Author

Daniel Santiago is a blogger in the Love Yourself Foundation. He enjoys writing, playing games, and exercising. His favorite activity is going out for walks and listening to lo-fi and serene music. A professional at being an introvert, he strives to find his place in the world and remind everyone they are not alone.

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