All you need is love. (Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.)

twloha

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.

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4 responses

  1. Beautiful, Shannon. I commend you for sharing something so personal with the world. You have no doubt helped so many by your candidness.

    Also (& WAY off the subject): I kind of love that you’re reading a Nancy Drew book right now. I just finished Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk. I know I’m supposed to an adult, but I still get a kick out of those books.

    <3

  2. Beautifully written. This: “You’re ashamed, you’re embarrassed, and you feel even more alone, which just makes the cycle even worse” makes something in my stomach flutter. I’m a recovering anorectic; that was my cutting. That was my way of telling the world I didn’t need it whilst simultaneously begging for it to need me.

    Found you through @_apricottea and I’m really glad I did. I really want to read more of you.

  3. Incidentally, and I didn’t want to include this in my comment above lest it cheapen it somehow, I founded and operate a site called IndieInk.Org, which is basically a non-profit literary and art collective for artists and writers across the web – professional or not – who may not have been seen otherwise. Part of its inception is the fact that I firmly believe everyone has a story and others need to hear it. I’m going on and on (sorry) because I would really love it if you considered submitting this to the site. Again, it’s indieink.org and you can email me at either the email above or at stacy | at | indieink | org if you have questions. I’d be honored to have you a part of the community.

    -Stacy
    IndieInk . Org

  4. I’ve been slacking off on reading your blog, I’ll admit.. but when I came back and read this today, I felt I had to say something.

    I think it is very brave of you to put your feelings about this in writing – even braver for you to share it with the blog world. As someone who has lived through her fair share of “coping mechanisms,” I think sharing this was a very positive thing not only for your own peace of mind but for other girls out there who may experience the same thing – to know they’re really not alone. To know they don’t always have to feel the way they’re feeling.

    The blogosphere is such a funny thing; I think a lot of people who don’t blog don’t really understand the connection you can have with reading someone’s daily thoughts and ramblings.

    Anyway… good post. Keep up the good work, kiddo!

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