My Self-Harm Addiction and How I’m Still Fighting to Recover

DISCLOSURE: I am not a mental health professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit Online Therapy to call, message, or video chat a certified therapist online. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I may also receive compensation from Online Therapy or other sources if you purchase products or services through the links provided on this page. You can read my full disclaimer.

Although I’ve lived with mental illness my whole life, I am not a medical professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclaimer.

WARNING: This post is graphic in nature and can be very triggering to those who self-harm or have previously done so. 

Update: I am now one year self-harm free!

My self-harm addiction started when I was about 14 when I had a couple of permanent markers laying around next to my bed.

With anticipating hands, I pulled the cap off of a blue colored permanent marker and let the chemicals burn up my nostrils. My hand did the rest of the work by writing words of self-hate all over my upper thighs.

Worthless. Failure. Die.

Because it’s not easy to wash off permanent marker, the words would stay on my body for days at a time, reminding me just how worthless I felt. When the words finally disappeared from my legs, I would follow the same self-destructive pattern all over again and write down more and more words.

I made sure that I would stick to the areas above my knees, because I would have to wear my gym uniform every day at school and, you know, I didn’t want anyone to “feel sorry” for me.

This pattern soon became so normal that I remember almost being excited about my secret, and I even started to like seeing the top of words poke out from underneath my gym shorts.

But just as quickly as this pattern started, the gratification of hateful words wasn’t enough for me anymore.

This is when I started to dig safety pins, scissors, and cuticle trimmers into my hips. Basically anything I could get my hands on.

I convinced myself that I wasn’t actually self-harming, because I wasn’t technically “cutting” myself. I convinced myself that I was only “denting,” and that it wasn’t that bad.

I don’t remember how often I hurt myself, or how deep my cuts got, but sometime during high school, I vowed to make myself better.

I must’ve been about 16 when I slowly put the sharp objects down. Whenever the urge filled my brain to self-self, I turned to permanent markers again. But this time it was different.

I drew words like Help me. Beautiful. Free me. on my upper thighs, so I could be reminded that I was worth it.

And for about the next six years, I was pretty much self-harm free. Sure, there were times I relapsed, but they were pretty much a one and done type of thing. I can’t exactly remember the details of them, because that part of my life is pretty blurry.

Flash forward to Thanksgiving 2014, and I was hit by a severe and very vicious depression.

For days at a time, I was unrecognizable. I turned angry. I turned cold. I turned into someone who didn’t care about anyone else besides my bed.

I’ve dealt with depression on and off for half my life by this point, but my self-harm behaviors got to the point that I’ve ever seen before. I began to turn back to my old self-destructive ways, but I skipped right over the markers and went straight to leaving more than just a little “dent.”

I injured myself while in the shower. I injured myself under the covers in my bed. I even injured myself in my boyfriend’s bathroom after we would get into arguments.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I locked myself in the bathroom and dug into myself with the scissors he had next to the sink. I convinced myself he was never going to find out, but that only led to more arguments every time he found out. Which he always did.

From June until about October, my self-harm addiction was taking over my thinking.

I constantly had overwhelming energy in my forearms and wrists, and my blood was pumping so hard that it needed to escape. And let me tell you, cutting yourself so close to your veins feels so much more relieving than any other spot on my body.

And even more addicting, I began to gulp down cough syrup on an almost daily basis, not even caring to measure how much I was indulging.

I drank it to sleep through the night. I drank it to feel something alive in my body. I drank it to forget.

I remember waking up on my 22nd birthday wanting to die. A couple weeks later, I took enough pain relievers that I didn’t care if I did.

One day, me and my boyfriend had a serious talk about my self-destructive behaviors. Later that night, I wrote all my thoughts down in my journal.

There I began to try to heal. But it was not easy.

Sometimes I didn’t even think about recovering, and I would dig even deeper. I would stop hurting myself for a week then I would injure myself for another two weeks straight.

Recover. Relapse. Recover. Relapse.

I can’t even tell you how many times I relapsed, because, let me tell you, it gets harder and harder to try and heal every time you relapse.

October 20, 2015, my boyfriend and I got into a pretty bad argument. I drove home and just before bed, I drank enough cough syrup that I still felt the effects almost two days after.

He knew I was unstable when I left his house, so called me right before I fell asleep. I had no choice but to confess what I did. He was very disappointed with me, and I woke up the next morning realizing that I had to be very, very serious about my recovery this time.

This recovery was brutal, but I stayed self-harm free for almost two months before I relapsed again.

You begin to carry a lot of shame when you know you have an addiction. The worst part of this all is that I brought these self-destructive patterns into the new year. May 13, 2016 is the last time I’ve harmed myself.

It’s been exactly two months since I’ve last injured myself.

Obviously, I’m still in the very early stages of my recovery. But in all honesty, recovery is not just one day at a time. We have to break it down even simpler than that, and take it one moment at a time.

Just one time that you tell yourself no and put down the scissors. Just one time is all you need.

And the only way you’re going to recover, is if you actually want to recover. Every part of your being has to be in it.

Are you and/or someone you know recovering from an addiction? How do you cope?

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4 thoughts on “My Self-Harm Addiction and How I’m Still Fighting to Recover

  1. Stacie Fourroux

    Meagan, I commend you for being so open and honest, sharing every bit of your story along the way. When your in doubt of yourself which not one person is not guilty of…remind yourself that by starting this blog I’m certain you have helped alot of people not feel so alone. So many people put on a smile everyday yet hide a lakes worth of tears no one knows anything about…so just that is an accomplishment in and above itself. I’m 41 yrs of age and probably old enough to be your mother. I want you to know that you are a beautiful, articulate, kind, empathetic, resilient young woman. Just having the ability to be willing to put yourself out there in the open is STRONG in itself. I pray that being able to talk about your struggles open and honestly has had a tremendous effect and is able to help you in some way. I read a quote once and it made perfect sense to me which is regarding holding our tongue while angry can save a lifetime of regret, or something of that nature which for me as an extremely emotional person has been hard for me to do, but I was able to find that if I take the time to email myself all the things I want to say while I’m angry, sad, depressed, anxious, or feeling alone has helped me #1 with regret….I don’t end up saying some I may regret layer that was said on my emotion at the time whether pissed off, sad, disappointed, confused, hurt, or other….
    It also #2 has provided me a journal of my feelings, and lastly #3 I’m able to see whether patterns are emerging such as which emotion I feel the most, or see who upsets me most, or if outside factors playback role and whether my hormones such as PMS is to blame. This helps me rationalize my thoughts more for instance, if it seems I’M PMS, and I tend to over rationalize things the week prior it helps me by being more aware that that week I’m a little more sensitive to criticsm it has also helped my husband TREMENOUSLY….He knows not to talk to me about what I’m wearing unless it’s positive but he knows to stay away with the questions like “where did u get that shirt!?” Can easily be interrupted to me as immidiate defense snapping back with “why is it ugly, you dont like it?” Etc… when in reality I’m just a slight bit cranky that week because of hormones.
    There are so many things that we don’t realize control our emotions, for instance last December I was watching the 5pm news broadcast as I usually did each night….but what I had been noticing for a few weeks prior is the influx of bad news. …I even said why never any good news…why always reports of murder, robbery, bad people, never anything positive. So one particular night I saw them report of a family, single mom 4 or 5 children ages 2-11yrs old or something. …but what struck me was the report the mom left the kids home alone, at night to get her bf from work, apparently they had stopped of at a drug store to pick up prescription pills, and maybe even a report they stopped for a drink..anyhow, the youngest children were playing in the kitchen when the baby (1 1/2 or 2 yrs) climbed into the oven, when the 2nd oldest closed the child by lifting the door and the 3rd oldest climbed up the counter over to the oven and turn it on messing with the dials ….I don’t think I need to continue with the rest of the story to know exactly what occured….but what I noticed about this story was the ages and the fact that these children lost a family member they will barely recall….but they will struggle knowing what they had done the rest if their lives and how unfair it was for them….I even began to sob for their souls…I finished dinner and my husband took notice to my demeanor and all I wanted to do was goto bed to start my day over….but all I could think about was that broadcast. That’s when I realized the next day that the simple innocent act of watching a news broadcast that media and reports of what they consider “news” had a major impact on hoe the remainder of my day went. I vowed never to watch a morning or evening news program again….I literally listen nm to music from son up to son down and it has DRAMATICALLY lessened the control of outside influences on my life for the better. It’s been almost a year and I will admit I did watch the broadcast last night but only for an idea where the election would go…lol….
    I am with the ONLY TRUE LOVE of my life for 20 yrs now, I have been with him for now half my life, we are best friends and I couldn’t have found a more perfect partner. My mom and dad have passed on, I have a sister but her years of torture from her mal.narcasstic personality disorder and Mr being her target has left my soul battered and bruised. I found my self harm was in relation to her when my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer last year and I immediately started plucking every eyebrow out and digging out the roots, I have gone so far as to have giant scabs that I would attempt to cover with pencil….my husband used to tell me I was making them hamburger meat…sorry for the description but it would infuriate me more so so I’d go hide in my room or bathroom and he’d ask if I was doing them and I would lie….I used to do it for hours upon hours…..I stopped one day as i grew tired of having to draw them on if someone showed upnunannounced or leave them waiting ….and the fact to see if they would grow back….I found if my husband’s took away all the tweezers in the home it was the best thing I could do to prevent self harm….I realized in march when I relapsed that it was in response to the stress of having contact with my sister again(cut her off went no contact 8 yrs prior in resps to her toxic behavior and jealousy towards me.I mutilated my face in response to her contact critique and criticsm of my life and my doings….once I realized it I put them away this time myself and although the urge never fully goes away it has lessened. I refuse to willingly give power to anything BUT ME!!! What I’ve found is to remind myself that I CONTROL MY LIFE, THE DIRECTION AND NO ONE OR NOTHING ELSE CAN TAKE THE FROM ME….That and people noticed no matter how I tried to cover it up….I wish you well, it’s not an easy ROAD BUT WE CAN THE PATH AS MUCH AS WE ARE WILLING….THE REST IS UPTO DESTINY!!!

    • Thank you so incredibly much! This truly means so much to me! Thank you for sharing your story. It takes a lot of courage and shows a tremendous amount of strength. I wish you only the best 🙂

  2. CDT

    Addictions are hard to overcome. 🙁 I went about 6 years. Then relapse a few weeks ago. The struggle is real. Have you tried therapy? I have only gone twice now…but I think it might help. I don’t want to be like this for my son…that’s my encouragement.

    • Congratulations on all your recovery wins so far! Just remember, relapsing is NOT failing. It’s just all part of the process. I’ve done therapy before, and it can truly help in finding new ways to help yourself and those around you. I think it’s great that your son is you encouragement. Keep fighting! 🙂

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