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Nail-biting & Pornography: Addressing Habits We Establish To Cope With Mental Illness

I was in sixth grade when I first searched for pornography. I found myself logging on to any computer I could find, including my dad's church computer.


At the time, I had no idea that my addiction to pornography was in direct relation to my battle with mental health. I realize now that my eleven-year-old self was desperately searching for an endorphin-release to calm my anxious heart, regardless of how it happened.


The permanent damage from my nine-year battle with porn continues to affect me today.


It wasn't long after I began consuming porn that I started biting my nails and obsessively brushing my teeth. Since porn was not always available for consumption, my body craved other forms of releasing endorphins. I began to develop an OCD for hygiene, thus my teeth were always clean and my black shirts were always stained white with deodorant.


After marrying Marissa, I realized how many unhealthy habits I had established to cope with the anxiety I was battling.


Unhealthy Habits Disguised As Coping Mechanisms:


Let me be clear, there is no excuse for my addictions to pornography, lust, and everything that surfaced because of those addictions. I do, however, question if I could have managed those addictions better had I known they were unhealthy habits disguised as coping mechanisms.


Along with nail-biting, hygiene OCD, and pornography, I have also used social media, food, and technology as unhealthy coping habits for my anxiety and depression.


While at the surface most of these habits don't directly affect others, none of them were directly helping me find true healing from what was driving them, thus making them an unhealthy habit.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. - 2 Timothy 1:7

Replacing Unhealthy Habits with Holistic Ones:

If you battle anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide (passive or active), or other forms of Mental Illness, truth is you probably have unhealthy habits disguised as coping mechanisms too...


Grabbing a stuffed crust pizza anytime you've had a difficult day.

Consistently checking your social media handles to see if you've gotten any new followers.

Logged on to a device to view porn.

Bop your leg up and down constantly.

Obsess about literally anything.

Cutting and inflicting pain intentionally on your body.

Dress a certain way to invite attention.

Fool around sexually to release endorphins.

Act as though nothing is wrong.

Get drunk or high.


If we replace our unhealthy habits with Holistic ones, the fight for our mental health becomes manageable.

Instead of grabbing a stuffed crust pizza, I'll grab some gum.


Instead of checking social media, I'll read a book.


Instead of watching porn, I'll listen to music or watch basketball.


Instead of bopping my leg up and down or biting my nails, I'll say a quick prayer.


Instead of obsessing about my hygiene, I limit myself each day to how many times I can put on deodorant.


Instead of cutting, I'll pull out a journal and start to write.


Instead of dressing for attention, I sport my favorite color and wear orange.


Instead of fooling around sexually, I'll take my significant other on a date.


Instead of acting as though nothing is wrong, I'll reach out to my closest friend and share with them what is going on.


Instead of grabbing a beer or smoking a blunt, I'll drink an Arnold Palmer and grab some fruit snacks.


Through this shift, we still have the pleasure of releasing endorphins without the guilt and damage of falling to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. - 1 Peter 1:13
 

I still have a lot of work to do in this area, friends. If you are struggling with establishing healthy habits in your life, reach out to me, and let's connect. I would love to help you process what this looks like in your context.


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