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10 Things I’m Learning Along the Journey to Self-Harm Recovery

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Editor’s note: If you struggle with suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

I have struggled with self-harm for years. I am on the path to recovery, and I figured I would share some things I have learned on my journey, both with self-injury and depression/anxiety.

1. Recovery isn’t pretty.

It is not a beautiful trip. It is panic attacks, emotional outbursts, relapses and a constant yearning to put that razor to my arm and just let it all out. It is a continuous battle of what is worse: the anxiety or the guilt I feel after I relapse. It is looking down at my scars and hating them. Yet, I want to add more so they don’t fade away. It’s my family and friends worrying about me and me feeling guilty because if I had never told them, then they wouldn’t worry.

2. Some people don’t understand, and that’s OK.

They wonder, “How I could do that to myself?” In truth, you can only understand if you have felt that pain. I wouldn’t ever wish that on anyone, not even someone I hate.

3. No matter how old the scars get, I want to hide them.

It doesn’t matter that no one would notice them. I’ve been taught by society would only be “looking for attention” if I let people see them.

4. Sometimes recovery isn’t that hard; sometimes it is torture.

There are days when I don’t even think about hurting myself. Those are the really good days. Sometimes, I think about it, but I can easily distract myself. That is most days. Other days, I sit and stare blankly at my arms and legs, feeling hollow and empty. The only thing on my mind is how it would make everything go away. The little voice in my head tells me how good it used to make me feel and how relaxing it was to just watch myself hurt. Those are the days I relapse, and unfortunately, they happen more often than they should.

5. Occasionally, someone is going to act as if I’m not trying hard enough.

They act as if I just tried harder, then I could stop completely. If I just didn’t think that way, then the anxiety and depression would stop. If I just did “blank,” it would make me better. Sometimes, I have to remind myself I don’t have to listen to this, and I am allowed to be upset. No one knows exactly what goes through my head, and no one can feel exactly how I feel.

6. Sometimes, I may feel like I am not doing enough, trying hard enough.

I hear people saying this, affirming this idea and I think maybe they are right. Sometimes, I need to be told I am doing my best. I am doing enough, even if it isn’t what I used to do before this took over my life.

7. Sometimes, I will look back on who I used to be.

I look at what I used to do and how different I am now that my depression, anxiety and self-harm has changed me. I used to be the perfect student. I used to have a social life. I used to do so much more. Now, I struggle to get up in the morning and to find meaning in each day. I used to have a plan for what I wanted to be and do. Now, I barely have a plan for the next week, even the next day, let alone years.

8. I am not who I used to be.

Sure, there are parts of me that remain constant, unwavering. Yet, my experiences will change me for the good or the worse. On the bright side, it might make me more understanding of others, more compassionate, but it might make me more closed off and bitter.

9. I will see ignorant people spewing trash about what I struggle with.

I have learned to ignore it or it will only anger me. I have learned to roll my eyes and say, “Of course, this is all in my head. It’s a mental disorder. Where else would it be, my toe?”

10. I learned how much people love me.

Whether it be my friends or family, there are people who love me. I learned to keep that close to me for the dark times.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Originally published: September 20, 2016
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