Trigger warning: self infliction
I don't know how ready I'll ever be to put this article out there. As I begin to write this, I'm nervous about the implications it may have. I'm nervous about if a future employer or partner may receive this information. But the fact is that I'm not ashamed. I'm private. I don't regret my experiences, but on a daily basis, I don't feel the need to share them.
If this article helps just one suffering or unaware person in my community, I will have reached my goal, even if it means that this article will be out there, in the open, in public, for the rest of forever. It's also important that I write this article, to fight the stigma against my experiences. My story and my history does not make me any less dependable, likable, or trustworthy. It does not make me crazy, and it does not make me weak.
I started self inflicting when I was 15 years old. I didn't really know what it meant, or why I was doing it, but I was unhappy, I had no where to put my emotions. I was unhealthy. I was in bad relationships with the wrong people, put too much on my friends, allowed myself to feed the depression that was taking over my life, and this went on until graduating high school and beyond.
I won't go into detail about what exactly my self-inflicting experience entailed, or what drove me to it. But I will try to describe how it made me feel. Sometimes I still don't understand why I started or why I thought it helped me. Most people don't, even psychologists. Once I was done, all the pain that I had been feeling was somewhere else, in a physical form. It wasn't in my head anymore, it was on my body. But I always felt worse afterwards, I always felt ashamed.
Self-infliction is an addiction. It can go hand in hand with personality disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, and any number of mental originalities. For me, it was an addiction. Each time I did it, I felt guilty, as if my clock had reset, because it was, in fact, a relapse. I didn't recognize it as such until I got to college, and I truly began the process of quitting. The longer I resisted, the less I wanted to lash out at myself. Longer periods of time lasted between each relapse. I went on walks, I wrote music. I was able to move on because I had left high school (a place that made me so absolutely unhappy). I changed my life completely, and started a new story.
Now, two years from my last relapse, I am free of scars.
While this experience is always going to be part of me, it no longer defines me. Since February 26, 2017, I have not self-inflicted for two years. I have let go of that pain and learned how to deal with it in healthy ways. It was not easy. It was not even simply hard - It was impossible. An addiction doesn't just go away, but I am able to leave the unhealthy feelings behind me, and fight the urge to put my pain on myself.
As I write this, I'm still terrified. What's the point of my story? Why put this out there for everyone to see? Who could understand, and who will judge me? But I am not ashamed anymore. I am proud that I have been able to overcome my biggest obstacle; myself. I can't regret the longest chapter that has been part of the journey to where I am now. Now, I am happy, I am healthy, I am independent. It seemed time for me to put this out in the open in a new light, so that I can put it behind me once and for all. I am no longer the girl who self-inflicted; I am the girl who overcame it, among so many other more important things. I am louder, I am stronger, I am smarter. I play the guitar. I hula hoop. I have the greatest friends in the world. My scars have healed.
If you are ever struggling, or know someone who is, there are so many resources for you. Reach out to your friends, write a song, make bad poetry, go for a run, try drawing or watercolors. Pick up a hula hoop! If distractions aren't an option, you can call the samaritans at 877-870 HOPE (4673), or TWLOHA (To Write Love On Her Arms) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To Write Love On Her Harms is an organization which helped me immensely through high school. As stated on their website, "TWLOHA is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery." You can find resources in their website at the link listed below, and I encourage anyone struggling to do research on this organization in depth.
Samaritan's is not just an organization for those inflicting. It is for those affected from the suicide of a loved one, or an ally to someone with suicidal or self-inflicting thoughts. Samaritan's is an organization which I have called in the past just to talk to someone removed from your personal situation. As it states on their website, "Samaritans’ mission is to reduce the incidence of suicide by alleviating despair, isolation, distress and suicidal feelings among individuals in our community, 24 hours a day; to educate the public about suicide prevention; and to reduce the stigma associated with suicide. We accomplish this through services that emphasize confidential, non-judgmental, and compassionate listening." I have listed their help page below.
People care. You are not alone, and you can overcome this, just like I did. It's a long process, but healing is not impossible. Even with a mental illness, when I feel like there's no point, because I will always be 'sick,' I remember the things I have overcome and the things I have yet to achieve, and I keep going.
Care about the people around you, and be kind. If I can do it, anyone can.