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The Pain of Self-Sabotage

keep your chin up

“Self-sabotage” was a household term in my family.

My mother picked it up somewhere, maybe in a NAMI class or in therapy or a self-help book. She started to use it on me when I was in high school, when I made bad decisions or when my moods became uncontrollable.

She would start to predict the results of my erratic behavior, knowing when something bad was going to happen. She’d sit on her bed and talk to me with concern.

“You’re sabotaging yourself. You need to find another way”.

I knew I was doing something, whatever you wanted to call it. But I couldn’t stop. My moods started reaching epic heights in high school, and throughout those four years, no one diagnosed me with bipolar.

No one expected that.

I was just a depressed, bratty, artistic teenager with anger issues.

So I suffered, and made myself look like a fool. I drank too much. I got caught with cigarettes and knives in my drawers. I lied, I cheated, I hurt people and I made people angry.

I know it wasn’t completely my fault, I had a disease, but I still fight with myself over the person I was then. I should have done something to stop it.

Some people don’t like me.

Since high school, I have sabotaged myself in many ways—throwing away relationships and friendships, quitting  jobs, making rash decisions, starting meaningless arguments, holding grudges, letting myself become comfortable with the depths of depression and anxiety day after day.

I don’t know if it’s because I have low self-esteem, or because I haven’t known how to control and maintain bipolar disorder. I am very unhappy to have been diagnosed with this illness in the middle of my college career.

It disrupted a lot of things, including my thinking, my judgment, my priorities, and my measure of safety. I wish I could have done a lot of things differently.

I’ve had a lot of bipolar peers who are older than me say that I am lucky that I was diagnosed so early. I guess it’s true, in a way, because for me, my symptoms appeared pretty early in my life. I would have been going around self-sabotaging longer than I had to. But it’s not to say that I still don’t do it.

I am learning about bipolar each and every day. I wouldn’t say I have any kind of grip on it yet.

My desire for things to always be exciting and ever-changing in high school is no longer here anymore. I don’t know if it’s the medication or the maturity but I’m happy being married, I’m happy at the same job, and I’m happy with a predictable weekend. In that respect, I’m doing better.

The elements of self-sabotage that I still have to worry about are missing my medication and allowing my mental illness to take over my feelings, emotions, and life as a whole.

I am constantly bombarded with anxiety every day but I can’t let it overtake how I feel about myself and my life.

I need to get to the doctor and be mindful when my moods are changing abruptly. I need to reach out to support even though I feel embarrassed.

The chaos is no longer coming much from the outside, but from within. I fight with this illness constantly, as if it’s another entity, a part of me. I am determined to make my life different from here on out.

I don’t want to self-sabotage anymore.


Do you feel that you self-sabotage or have self-sabotaged in the past? What kind of effect has it had on your life? What are you doing about it, or want to do about it? 


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The Pain of Self-Sabotage

Kat Dawkins

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APA Reference
Dawkins, K. (2013). The Pain of Self-Sabotage. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 19 Feb 2013
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