This month is quite a milestone for me, marking ten years since I gathered the last of my strength (at the time) and made the decision to stop self harming.
This was not a decision that I took lightly, and even down to the last 12 months there have been days where I didn’t know how much longer I would last. But, made it to ten years I have, and now I’d like to pass on some things I’ve learned along the way to all my fellow recoverers.
Ten pearls of wisdom from someone ten years self injury free.
You are not alone
At times it might seem like it, and no doubt you know what it’s like to feel all alone even in a crowded room. But no matter how desperate it gets you’re never truly alone. There is always someone willing to listen, friends, family, co workers, online friends, therapists. Even mental health bloggers whose inbox is always open to someone in need. The first step is that deep breath you take before talking.
You’re not just an attention seeker
Please believe me when I say this. No matter how many people have ignorant views on mental health and self harm, you know your reasons and they are valid. Sometimes those reasons are a cry for help, but that’s nothing to be ashamed of. This is your coping mechanism and you need support, love and help – not judgement.
Be careful with social media
The internet can be an amazing place for support and guidance, but it can also be a ditch of damaging behaviour. Glamorising mental health and self harm has unfortunately become a common thing with social media, and it’s so important to do your best to stay away from that. Unfollow and block triggering accounts and don’t let people try to convince you you’re doing the right thing. Recovery is your goal, not your follower count.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
There is no shame in asking for help, whatever form that takes. Talking to someone, seeking professional help or taking medication – recovery is such a personal process and you’ll find a method that suits you. Not everyone is out to judge and I promise there are people out there who want the best for you. Deep breaths.
You’re not insane
You’re not destined to be committed to a psyche ward. Just because this isn’t something everyone in the world goes through doesn’t make you a freak, weirdo, crazy, loser or any of that crap. You might feel like your brain is caving in on itself or that you’re so uncomfortable in your own skin you could scratch it all off but you are NOT insane. You’re a brave person dealing with some things and you’re doing the best you can.
There are other ways to cope
One of the hardest things to deal with when you make the decision to stop self harming is the hole it leaves in your life. You might feel like nothing will ever come close, but I learned a few ways to subside my urges. The two biggest were painting lines on the spots where I would usually self harm and also writing my feelings of why I wanted to self harm is huge letters over my skin. This satisfied my visual urge most nights and helped me through a lot of hard times. For physical sensations I’d try pinging elastic bands or rubbing ice against my skin. Something else might work for you, but there’s a place to start.
You will feel things again and learn to live with yourself
If self harm is all about being able to feel on your own terms like it was for me, getting to grips with your emotions afterwards can be trying. With time and patience, you will start to feel things on your own terms again. You’ll learn more about yourself than you ever thought you could, and come to terms with your faults and attributes. But it will take time, patience and kindness towards yourself. You might never feel like you have total control, and that’s perfectly fine, nobody ever really does, but you will feel like your own person again.
You don’t deserve this
If any of your self injury is about punishment, please believe me when I say you don’t deserve it. You deserve recovery. You deserve happiness. No matter what you’ve done or said in the past, you deserve a bright future and a place in this world. You. Deserve. Love.
You are made of unbelievable strength
Do you realise you’ve survived everything that’s been thrown at you? Every terrifying night and hopeless bad day, you’re still here reading this blog post and pushing on. You are powerful. You are resilient. You are fucking incredible! Never forget that.
It will get better
There is a light at the end of the tunnel and no matter what’s happened today there is another sunrise right around the corner. Another day, another chance – it’s there and it’s all yours. It all sounds like such a cliche but I’m not going to bullshit you and say it’s only sunshine from here because it’s not. Surviving this is crappy and hard and soul crushing but it will be worth it. The good days and the laughter and the people and the achievements and the peaceful moments that are all yours and nobody else’s…it’s all coming for you as long as you’re willing to meet it halfway.