When I first stumbled across LifeSIGNS eight years ago, I felt very much alone. I knew no one else who self-injured, and those in my life who knew of my self-injury had pushed me away.
That first night, sat in a freezing room, past midnight, reading post after post on the message board, was amazing. Here was not one or two, but a whole community of people who had experience of self-injury.
We were all at such varied points on our journey. Some right in the midst of it; some moving away from self-injury; some even who had left it behind and were still around to support those of us who just weren’t quite ready to move on yet, or even contemplate a moment when we wouldn’t turn to self-injury as a coping mechanism.
Before I found LifeSIGNS, I couldn’t even try. Now in front of me was an opportunity to properly explore why I turned to self-injury, and what I could, perhaps, if I was feeling brave, do instead.
I’ll never forget the encouragement I got the first time I’d managed to stave off the urge of wanting to self-injure. I’d spend the majority of the night / early morning distracting myself with playing on the ‘fun and games’ forum and answering posts around the rest of the board. I fell into bed, shattered, no energy to self-injure. But most importantly I didn’t want to.
The next day I posted my achievement. A plethora of ‘well done’ replies followed and that in itself encouraged me not to self-injure the next day too.
I’m not saying that was the end of my self-injury, but it was a first step. One I couldn’t have taken with the little power of just me.
Social media has moved on, and while the support forum may not be as busy as it used to be, our Facebook, tumblr and Twitter followers are growing. The community is still there, helping each other through. Even if it’s just through one night, or for one first step.