Rachel Wammack should have been happy.
The singer-songwriter should have been loving life, with both a flourishing country music career and a thriving personal life with husband Noah Purcell giving her every reason to smile. And while her Instagram feed a few years back seemed to point to all being well in Wammack’s world, it absolutely wasn’t.
“I started believing the lies Satan was telling me,” remembers Wammack, 28, during a revealing interview with PEOPLE. “I started believing that my personality wasn’t good enough and my body wasn’t fit enough, and I certainly wasn’t pretty enough to be successful. I even started believing that my home wasn’t even Instagram-worthy. It was a lot.”
Granted, these silent lies were rattling around in her head at a time when one couldn’t talk about the future of country music without mentioning Wammack’s name. Thanks to songs such as “Damage” and accolades from people like Bobby Bones and networks like CMT, Wammack found herself in the whirlwind of stardom.
“I was getting to play the Grand Ole Opry and getting to tour with people like Brett Young and Trisha Yearwood and I was playing the Ryman for the first time with Bobby Bones,” recalls Wammack, who moved to Nashville in 2016 and signed a record deal just one year later. “Truly, these were some of the greatest moments of that season of my life.”
Nevertheless, Wammack says she began to find herself becoming enamored with the lives her fellow rising stars were sharing on their ultra-filtered social media channels. And suddenly, she found herself crumbling.
“It was slowly eating me alive creatively,” says Wammack, who released her self-titled debut EP in 2018. “I was doing so much, but it didn’t feel like enough because I constantly had my head on a swivel looking around at other people, so much so that I couldn’t even appreciate my own life.”
And then, to make matters worse, covid hit.
“The only way to connect with fans was through social media and I already had, at that point, determined that I had a hard time expressing myself on social media,” Wammack remembers of the shutdown that brought the country music industry to a halt. “I’m just naturally an in-person kind of gal.” She laughs before growing serious. “It just overtook me. I just felt like I wasn’t enough in every way.”
And then, the Alabama native says she hit her “mental and emotional” rock bottom.
“I remember there was a super beautiful sunset right outside our back porch, and my husband was like, ‘Hey, come check this out…this is amazing,'” Wammack remembers. “I looked out, but first I had to grab my phone. In that moment, I realized that I couldn’t even enjoy a sunset, this artwork from God, without showing it to the rest of the world. It kind of broke me. It was something so small and so simple.”
Luckily, those around her began to see the growing pain in her eyes and urged her to take a hiatus from both music and social media. And today, Wammack says it was the best thing she ever did.
“I’m a lot more balanced now,” says Wammack, who started gardening and refinishing furniture during her break. “I also have rules for myself as well. I deleted Face Tune from my phone. I’m not allowed to alter my body, my face or my skin in any pictures or videos. Obviously, I can do a little Paris filter, but I certainly don’t need to be changing the size of my thighs.”
Now, Wammack’s autobiographical new song “Like Me” not only serves as Wammack’s first music in over a year and a half, but also tells the story of all that she has been through.
“It’s a love note to me and a reminder to the world,” says Wammack of the song she wrote alongside Kelly Archer and Tawgs Salter. “It’s a specific message dealing with a specific wound in so many people’s lives. And a specific wound for me. It’s the most vulnerable I’ve ever been.”
She draws in a deep breath.
“For the first time, I get to choose whose opinion matters to me,” she says. “I’m not everybody’s cup of tea and that’s OK. That was a hard thing for me to reckon with. But now, I feel like people are more drawn to me now that I like myself.”