I’ve been thinking of writing this particularly personal, and difficult, blog post for a while. But it wasn’t until I read about “To Write Love on her arm” on Facebook, and their vision, that I decided to actually write about it. Andrew asked me, when I admitted I was thinking of talking about it, “Well what would you get out of talking about it?” And I think I’ve finally realized that it’s not about what I’ll get out of it. It’s about helping those people out there suffering to know that they’re not alone, and that there is hope, no matter how bad things can feel.
And here’s my truth: I am a recovered (or recovering, depending on personal opinion) self injurer. What does that mean exactly? It means that for about ten years of my life, off and on, I waged a secret addiction to hurting myself. From the time I was eleven until only a couple years ago, it was my coping mechanism. When things were stressful, when I was depressed, when I felt empty or alone or out of control, I would turn to it. It seemed like the only thing that remained constant in my life–this horrible secret that I tried to hide so well, from everyone around me. You’re ashamed, you’re embarrassed, and you feel even more alone, which just makes the cycle even worse. I had an amazing boyfriend, a close group of friends, and a supportive family and yet it seemed like the only thing I could control, the only thing I could trust. If anything, I felt guilty for hating myself so much when I had all these amazing things. What reason did I have to be upset?
So the question remains: what changed?
I think one of the greatest things I ever did to help me overcome self injuring was treating my anxiety, which I’ve now figured out was one of the major causes of my cutting. I’m not saying that works for everyone–or that my anxiety is completely under control–but it taught me in those moments, when I normally would have broken down and locked myself in my room, to try and breath. It doesn’t always work, and more than once I’ve called Andrew scared, but the truth is it’s been years since I’ve hurt myself. And while the scars may still remain–and will probably always be there–the truth is I feel proud of myself that I managed to overcome something which consumed my life. Yes, the possibility is always there in the back of my head that I could relapse, it is no longer a constant fear like it once was. I finally feel like I do have control over it.
So why did I feel like sharing this? Because there are so many people, who like I was, are caught in this cycle of self injury and don’t know how to break free. It’s an addiction, and like any addiction, you don’t just “grow out of it”, or simply “get over it”. It is a constant struggle. So to those out there who are suffering, who feel stuck and lonely and depressed, who feel like they’ll never escape: it is possible. You can break free, and you can get help. Find someone you trust, someone who can help you when you’re in your deepest, darkest moments. And know that recovery is always possible.