The Mighty Logo

When the New Year Brings New Hope for Self-Harm Recovery

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

There were plenty of times last year when I didn’t think I would make it to the end, but here I am, proving myself wrong. After countless visits to the ER, three hospital admissions and a suicide attempt, I am still here. I am still breathing. I am still fighting. And I plan to continue doing so.

Because I have so many different mental illnesses, I am in a constant tug of war between relapse and recovery. One day my anxiety may start to dwindle, but my depression could suddenly hit me like a train and refuse to let me feel for weeks on end. I might be able to eat three meals in one day without feeling guilty, but could also find myself having a borderline personality disorder (BPD) related emotional crisis that night. Perhaps I will be having the first good day in a long time, but at the flip of a switch my anxiety could reappear and force me to cry myself into oblivion over something completely trivial. Physically harming myself, engaging in destructive behaviors and deliberately putting myself in risky situations seem to be the only ways I can escape my thoughts when I am in crisis.

Typical of a person with BPD, I am an absolute perfectionist down to my core and cannot stand the idea of failure. I refuse to set myself any goals in case I don’t achieve them. I am constantly asking myself “but what if I don’t make it?”

There were so many times last year when I didn’t “make it.” My arms and legs bear the scars to prove it and my mind, the memories.

My only goal for this year is to be kind to myself. And in doing so, reduce the frequency of my self-harming episodes and not berate myself if I do end up giving in to the urge. I will remind myself that it’s OK to fail. Remind myself relapse is the rule, not the exception. Remind myself I am loved and supported, and if I need help, I can ask for it. Remind myself I am enough, I am doing just fine, and I will get there.

I have now been self-harm free for over two weeks. While it may not seem like a long time to those who don’t self-harm, I am incredibly proud of myself. Since I started self-harming in 2014, I have not managed to be free from it for this long. Even in just the past two weeks, I feel as though its grip on me is loosening ever so slightly.

I am aware recovery is not linear. There are going to be plenty of bumps in the road, but the setbacks will eventually become smaller and each step forward will inevitably become larger. The scars covering my body will fade and the memories they carry will become little victories in their own right.

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

If you struggle with self-harm or suicidal ideation and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: January 28, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home