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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 here.
CONTENT WARNING: This post mentions graphic details of self-harm and mentions suicide and sexual abuse.
Wow guys! Wow! I can’t believe I am able to write this post today. I have reached one whole year of being self-harm free.
For the past three years, I’ve been on the bumpiest journey of my life ever since I revealed that I was sexually abused throughout my childhood. This past year, in particular, has been the biggest test of my strength, especially with all the added stress of my parent’s divorce and my dad’s alcoholism on top of my poor mental health.
But I’ve grown so much in the past year, and I’m so proud of the person I’m becoming. I sincerely mean that with every fiber of my being. I am becoming the person I want to be.
Without further ado…here’s my entire journey from self-harm addict to self-harm survivor.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
It all began with loneliness and an overwhelming sense of self-hatred when I was 14. I was going through so many new and raw emotions of depression, and I had no idea how to cope.
My self-harm journey didn’t start with me taking an object to my skin. I guess I had to warm up to that first. It did, however, start with me drawing hateful words and messages on my legs. Worthless. Failure. Die.
I wrote these words with all different colored permanent markers, so the words would stay on my skin for days. Any time I looked down, I would see them. Sometimes they would poke themselves out of my gym uniform, and I would have to pull my gym shorts down so no one could see.
Maybe I needed a way to cope. Maybe there was a part of me that was curious to how it felt. It felt new and exciting. It felt like I was doing something I knew I wasn’t supposed to. Sometimes, I even smiled at the thought of it.
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-harm, 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.
For about the next five years or so, 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.
THE BEGINNING OF MY ADDICTION
November 29, 2014 was the first time I cut myself in who knows how long. I never kept track of it before, and it never felt like it was that big of an issue. But this time, it felt different. Something inside me was being held hostage.
After it happened, I texted my boyfriend. I told him I messed up. I can’t exactly remember the details of the months after that, because that part of my life is really blurry. My entire life was falling apart at that time.
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.”
For days at a time, I was unrecognizable. I was angry; I was cold. I turned into someone who didn’t care about anyone else besides my scissors.
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.
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.
One day in October 2015, 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. You can read that entry here.
There I began to try to heal. But it was not easy. Not even close.
TRYING TO RECOVER
There were times 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.
There were so many times I didn’t even want to recover. There were so many times I didn’t even think recovery was worth it or even an option. I wanted nothing more than to go back to my old coping mechanisms I used for years and years.
There were even times I deliberately relapsed just because I didn’t like the day my anniversary would lie on.
You begin to carry a lot of shame when you know you have an addiction. I can’t even tell you how many times I relapsed from November 2014 to May 2016. Recover. Relapse. Recover. Relapse.
But on May 14, 2016, I finally managed to reach recovery. Maybe for the rest of my life.
The months following, I doubted my ability so much. But probably around the 9 month mark, I really started to believe that I could make it to one whole year.
I pushed past every single thought, every single urge, every single time. There were soooo many almost-relapses. But I did it! I fucking did it!
One thing I learned from recovery is that it is not linear. You will rise, and you will fall. But you will rise again.
And I might have to come to terms that the urge to self-harm might never go away. Because even after a whole year, the urge to hurt myself is just as strong as it’s ever been. The feeling in my blood doesn’t go away, and the energy still crawls across my skin and clouds my vision. And that’s a very hard realization to live with.
But I know that since I made this huge, ginormous accomplishment, I’m happier. I’m stronger..I can do anything.
If you’re struggling, please keep fighting. Even if you have a relapse, it doesn’t take away all the progress you’ve made. Keep going. I’m right here with you.
Self-Harm Recovery Tips:
- How I Went From Self-Harm Addict to Self-Harm Survivor
- 30 Healthy Alternatives for When You Want to Self-Harm
- 6 Ways to Help Someone Who Self-Harms
- 8 Common Myths About Self-Harm
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