I know that my blog as of late has not been regularly updated and a lot of the reasons for that is because it can be hard to write and I often find that I write much better when I’m in the moment rather than planning in advance. Sometimes my best writing happens when I’m meant to be doing college work or when I’m having a bad day and so I try my best to keep it as unplanned as possible. Planning every post I want to do in a week can often, for me anyway, take the enjoyment out of writing.

I know even more than usual my writing has been spread out, going some months without a post and while in the past it has been very much mood dependent or if I actually had something to write about but now, now I feel as if I have an excuse! Yes I am writing a post today to inform you that if I am not positing it s because I am swamped with college work. Although now after saying it I’m sure it may not be an issue because lately if there is one thing I do well it is procrastination and something that aids my procrastination of college work is blogging.

I am trying to focus on getting through the last few months of college, getting assignments in on time and one to the best of my ability to hobbies have begun to take a backseat, not kicked out of the care completely but they have become settled in the back. And as blogging is a hobby it is something that also needs to take a back seat, t give me a chance to focus on getting college work completed. So while the blog may be lacking over the next few months it is my intention that once I make it through my final college days I will be back to blogging and hopefully I will have some adventures to write about too!

Time for a career?

Every now and again someone will suggest I get into the area of journalism. It has been a reoccurring theme for the past 4 years, around the time I had to look at what I wanted to do in college. In the beginning I liked the idea and I even entertained the idea, researching the points required, what would be involved in a journalism course but in the end I decided that it wasn’t for me. Why? Well I guess the number of points required in the leaving cert was a big issue, I knew I wasn’t able to achieve the points required and while some people might say well why didn’t you try, I didn’t try because for me it wasn’t an attainable goal. Why would I just upset me self when I end up disappointed? I guess another reason was I wasn’t really sure if that was what I wanted to do although even now in my final year of college I’m still not sure what I want to do!

I guess now that someone has mentioned doing my masters in journalism I have been questioning is it time I take my writing to the next level? Do I turn my hobby into a career? Right now I’m leaning more towards the no side. I write because I enjoy it, it’s a way of getting things out of my head, its what I do to release stress and tension and it is what I turn to when I cannot verbalise my thoughts. I worry that if I take writing and turn it into a career I will loose the enjoyment I get from it, it will become a way of putting bread and milk on the table rather than looking after my mental health. I’m worried that turning my writing into a career will affect my blog, would I still have a blog? Would I want to spend all day writing to come home and write some more? It just wouldn’t be the same.

I feel as if my blog has become a part of me and it has become something, which people associate with me. It is something, which I am proud of and it is something, which I want to keep going as long as possible. It has presented me with many opportunities and I’m sure it may present me with more in the future. It is something which I feel I need in my life and while at times I may not post for months and other times I may post daily it is something which I feel I need in my life. I worry not only that becoming a journalist will take the enjoyment out of writing but I too worry about the impact it will have on my blog, will it damage the level of writing on my blog? Will it hinder my passion and desire to write? And will it take the time I need t write on my blog away from me?

I know that this is all thought and that if I did get into journalism I may even find I enjoy writing more, I may find that it enhances my blog, it aids my style of writing or it enriches my passion but how can I be certain of that? I know we can never be certain of anything in life but I feel I need to be at least 70% sure that writing as a career will enhance my life and right now I cant say that is where I am. Right now in general I feel very unsure as to what I want to do in the future, do I want to write? Do I want to work with young people? Focus on mental health? Get into social care or community work? Do I want to travel? Keep my job in the children’s play centre? To be honest I really don’t know where I am going in life and I know that’s ok and for now I feel as if the writing as a career opportunity is going to disappear once again for a while because I’m not so sure I’m willing to risk taking the enjoyment out of something I so desperately need in my life.

Is it a full year without self-harm? Yes it is!!!

I woke up this morning in disbelief, I knew this day was coming, I even marked it on the calendar but even still when I woke up this morning I wasn't really sure if I had actually made it! Today marks one whole year without self-harm, even writing it down shocks me, I never imagined actually lasting a whole year without self-harming in any way shape or form! 

 It has been tough! I’m not going to lie and I have been faced with many challenges which have encouraged self-harm urges but I have somehow managed to fight them off, to battle through the urges, to sit it out, distract myself, engage with my support system and take back control of my mind and I have made it an entire year without self-harming! I still can't believe it! Last night and even today I found myself retracing my steps, trying to remember if there were times that I self-harmed but didn't admit it, if there were moments when I gave in and let the self-harm take over but there wasn't! Don’t get me wrong, there were times when I was prepared to self-harm, implement in hand, ready and waiting but I couldn't bring myself to do it. In that moment it was something, which annoyed me, was I not strong enough to do it? Was I scared? The answer was I was strong enough, strong enough to recognize that self-harm wouldn't solve the issue, I was strong enough to put the razor down, strong enough to take a step back, remove myself from the situation, and find a more appropriate way of coping. Was I scared? The answer was yes, I was scared to enter back into the world of self-harm, I was scared to let cutting take over my life again, scared I would let the addiction I had been trying to fight take over my life again.

I began self-harming when I was young; my teenage years saw it escalate to concerning levels. It become a way of coping, a secret and was a cry for help that no one could see. It become a way of living, it let me get through the day, it gave me the strength and energy to get out of the bed, do the things that needed to be done and get on with my life, it also did the exact opposite. Once the adrenaline had worn off the urges would creep back in, the feelings of worthlessness, emptiness, sadness and despair would be very much alive again. The thoughts of taking my own life, how I was a bad person, how I should be ashamed by what I had done to my body were no longer silenced and so too took hold of me once again and I found myself in a never-ending cycle. 

It began every so innocently, a cut here and a cut there, maybe once a week maybe more but that didn't last. The relief I received lasted for less and less each time and soon I found myself needing it, craving it, and not functioning without it. There were times when I couldn't even make it through the school day without it. It wasn't long before I was addicted, cutting twice before school, during school, after school, before activities, after activities and before bed. Why you might ask, it was simple, I felt like shit, my life was crumbling around me, I was in the depts of depression, struggling to get through each day and self-harm was my drug, it was what made it possible for me to get through the day, it was what allowed me to seem "normal", just like everybody else. I needed it in my life as without it I didn’t have the ability to function, I would not have been able to get out of the bed, I would not have been able to eat, to think or to sleep. It was the only things that at the time made sense in my life.

It got worse before it got better and even after it got better I still had some pretty rough times dealing with self-harm. I would make it a few months, three, or four, six at the most and then I would fall of the wagon, pick up a blade, and get the relief I had been longing for. It helped me get through the hard times but it didn't really! It didn't really make things better, for a moment or two it would make it seem like my life was perfect until that feeling wore off and once again I was left in utter despair, wishing for the pain to be taken away.  

It took five years of therapy with the child and adolescent mental health services, a four month in patient hospital stay in an adolescent mental health until, a correct diagnoses of Borderline Personality Disorder and six months on intensive outpatient dialectal behavioral therapy along with countless visits to the school chaplain, endless emails and after class conversations with Mrs. L trips to the college counselors, phone calls to friends and family and medication to help to get me to where I am today.  

It wasn't as simple as stopping self-harming or taking all the objects I could use to harm with away, it went deeper than that. I took many painful therapy sessions for me to understand why I was self-harming in the first place, it took hours upon hours reliving painful memories in order for me to deal with them, to put them into the past and move on, it took trial and error, finding new coping mechanisms and it took tine and patience. Self-harm cannot be changed over night, there will be setbacks, bumps in the road and falls of the wagon but it can be changed, it can be challenged and it can become a memory, it does not need to define you, it does not need to be in your life and not matter how bad you feel it does not make things better. After that initial relief, you will be back where you started and each day where you started gets a bit deeper, a little bit deeper into your depression, your anxiety or whatever it may be, slowly but surely self-harm creeps in and takes over, it becomes your drug and you become addicted and without addressing the root causes, no matter how painful, it will not cease to have control. It is up to you to take back control of your life!

One whole year without self-harm, I never thought I would see the day and yet here I am, self-harm free! I hope that this time next year I will be able to report to you that I am two years free from self-harm! It will always be apart of me somehow, I may get urges but I will battle through, I may get thoughts but I will push them aside because now, now I am the one in control! 

Fading Away

My self-harm scars are something, which I have a love/hate relationship with. At times I love them, they remind me of my journey, the strength it has taken to stop self-harming and to deal with the reasons why I would harm, they represent my story and have become part of me. Other times I hate them, I hate the very fact that I have destroyed my body, marked it for life, and created something for people to look at, for people to associate with mental illness and stereotypes. My scars are without a doubt a part of me.

I have never been the kind of person who has easily gotten into a routine of using creams and moisturizes and while I have used many different creams and oils to help with the appearance of my scars I have never used them for much longer than a few weeks. Why? Well besides forgetting and not bothering it is has always been something I wasn’t sure I want to do, it has very much been something which I wasn’t sure I could do, could I erase such a huge part of my life? Well as it turns out I haven’t needed to use any creams, oils, moisturizes or whatever else you might find to help reduce the appearance of scars as with time they have begun to fade away. They are in no way almost gone, they are still quite obvious but the comparisons from today with how they looked a year ago is something quiet significant.

My feelings about my scars fading away are somewhat mixed. While my scars do not define me I feel as if they define my story, provide proof in a way of what I really experienced. Without them did I still suffer? Yes, but without them is it clear to other people I suffered? Do I want people to know that I have suffered? Will people know I went on a journey? That I came out the other side? Without these scars how will people know that I am living proof that things can get better? Without these scars am I still Siobhán? While they don’t define me they are part of me and I feel as if my scars are fading away so too is a part of me.

It is hard for me to understand my thought process around this issue, do I want my scars gone or do I want them to stay? Do I want people to know I used to self-harm? Does it make me feel like I am part of a group? I don’t know, to be honest I really don’t understand it at all. It somehow feels that my scars represent that I am a survivor and without those scars am I still a survivor? I know the answer is yes, I know that just because there is no physical evidence doesn’t mean it didn’t happen but part of me needs that physical evidence, its almost as if I am clinging onto it, scared to let go, scared to let self-harm complete loose any hold it may still have over me.

I have come a long way over the past 4-5 years since the peek of my mental illness and while I still live with my mental illness everyday I feel as if I am in control but with my scars, somehow my scars still have some control over me, somehow self-harm still has the control I have being trying to take back. Don’t get me wrong, I have control over my self-harm, it no longer controls me in the sense that I must do it in order to function, it has actually almost been a full year since I have engaged in any self-harming behaviour but somehow the fact that my body is still covered in self –harm scars it is almost as if it still has some control over me.

I’m scared to read back over this post to see if it makes sense because there is a good chance that it doesn’t!

Part of me wishes that I no longer had scars, that they would continue to fade away so I could regain full control over self-harm, so that I can say goodbye to it once and for all but I know that may not happen. I know that self-harm may always be a factor in my life, it might not be and while I’m positive it wont be I am aware that even now, it still does enter my mind, it still does creep back into my head when I’m at my lowest and I still battle with urges, not often but I do. I’m realistic that there is a possibility I could go 5 years without self-harm and without urges and then suddenly something distrusts my world and I will find myself contemplating making that cut, I know that may happen but I feel that if all my scars faded away I could finally put it fully in the past, will that ever happen? I’m not sure.

Part of me wants my scars to stay and sometimes when I notice they are fading away I panic and I inevitably find myself contemplating adding a new scar, just to keep them there, so they never completely disappear. Why? Its hard to image my body scar free, its hard to imagine that one day I may have very few scars and without these scars will my journey and story have the same merit, will it still have as much meaning? Of course it will but I feel as if I need these scars to prove I have had these experiences that I have come out the other side. Its almost as if my scars fading away is like a piece of me fading away and I’m not so sure I want that piece of me to fade away.

I’m totally lost as to where I stand on this situation, I want them gone and I don’t want them gone, I’m scared that if they do go I will self-harm to get them back and I’m scared that if they don’t go they will define me and control me. It’s hard because at the end of the day they do have a significant meaning and they represent both positive and negative parts of me. How do I let something, which has such positive aspects fade away? Is it possible to let self-harm leave me altogether?

P.S I didn’t reread this post, I was feeling rather confused after writing it and I’m sure there are plenty of contradictions in the post! Sometimes I wish it was a simple as me writing that I hate my scars and want them gone rather than having such a complicated relationship with them.

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