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! 
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