My journey with self harm is a complicated one. The first time I cut, I was about 13. My mom and I had a fight over a now long-forgotten issue. I stormed off to my bedroom, pacing, feeling the closest I had ever (at that point) felt to the emotions I saw in people who got angry and punched or broke things. I had no idea how to express that. I had never heard of cutting or self injury. But something possessed me (metaphorically speaking), to grab a pair of scissors off my desk and start using them like a I ice on my outer forearm. And a calm I had never experienced came over me. I was hooked.
My cutting had reached multiple instances a day before I was found out by my parents and 14 or early 15. By then I was unstoppable ( I laugh in the face of sharp-proofing), but I was also terrified, both of my mental state and by how deeply engrained this urge to harm myself was, how fervently I believed I deserved it.
I could spend 20 blog posts detailing the year I was 15. The summation in this area would be that I spent two brief stays in a psych ward (both voluntary admissions), attended 2 cutting support groups, and played therapist for my parents who were going through a nasty divorce. My arms were covered in scars, now, interspersed with wounds in various stages of healing.
The month after I turned 16, I decided I was quitting. I had attempted it before, but rarely lasted more than a few days. This was going to be different. I finally wanted out for me. Not just to appease everyone in my life who said it was bad.
In my support groups I had learned about many different methods of quitting, much like you would in any other addiction group. I didn’t like the idea of just chatting how long I’d been “clean”, like 90 days sober trinkets. I knew that for me that approach would mean a single slip up would feel like all progress was lost. So I tried my own approach.
I decided. I decided that as of that day I would be a recovering cutter, not a cutter. I acknowledged that the road to recovery was covered in potholes and that I might sometimes fall off the wagon and slip up. But that slip up would not cancel out every intervening day where I fought the urges and won.
It’s been over a decade since I made that choice. My slip ups average from 2 to 3 times a year. But I gave myself no excuse for not getting up and continuing to fight, regardless of the guilt I felt for messing up.
I still fight those urges. Every day. They are a constant companion. Nights like tonight are the hardest. When my depression made me sleep randomly and lose time with my kiddo, and I’m alone for the night. I haven’t eaten in over a day, not because of an eating disorder, but because I literally can’t get out of bed to make myself something.
I would already be dead if it wasn’t for the friends and family who have taken care of me, or the kiddo who I can’t ever abandon no matter how painful this life gets.
On nights like tonight, I question my resiliency against suicide (a topic for another post). I wonder how I can bear another minute, hour, or day in this kind of excruciating psychological pain. And despite my amazing support network… I feel like no one even theoretically can understand and relate to this kind of pain. The only person I ever knew who understood this kind of mental anguish was my father. With him gone… It’s just me. Even with my friends and loved ones trying to help; I’m alone in a way they can’t possibly understand.
All I can think of to end this entry is a morbid/uplifting quote:
“It’s just life. We all get through it.”