Over the years I have been through so much. I do not want to focus on what I have been through, though, because even though it may be important, what really counts is the path to recovery. A path that I am still walking along!
Over the years I have struggled greatly with both an eating disorder and SI. I have also been diagnosed with severe depression and borderline personality disorder. I don’t mind being labelled, although the BPD label got to me a lot. I still remember when I was first diagnosed with it. It felt like it was a lifelong sentence; it was something that could never fully be taken away from me… all I could do was learn to deal with it to the best of my ability.
As I have already mentioned, SI was one of the coping strategies that I used greatly over the years. For me it just worked so well. It enabled me to feel in control; free. By self-injuring, I felt so alive. I never liked how other people could just hurt me and get away with it. Or the fact that they could do it whenever they pleased, without anyone knowing. By self-injuring, I realised that I could control when I was hurt, how much pain I was in. It was my way to not focus on what was really going on, that being that I had been mistreated badly and had been hurt in the most horrific ways.
When people hear about SI, many assumptions are put forward straight away. Things like, ‘only attention seekers do it’, that by self-injuring the person is ‘trying to take their own life’, and so many other things. This is not true though.
What people don’t realise, is how quickly you can come to rely on SI. I remember when I first started on that sunny afternoon 9 years ago. I kept telling myself that it was ok, that if I didn’t want to do it anymore then I could just stop, just like that; but I was dead wrong.
What started as only self-injuring once a week, turned into self-injuring every day, and from self-injuring every day turned into self-injuring any spare minute I had, including at school and on my breaks at work. On many occasions I was almost found out by my parents and friends. But no matter how much I wanted to stop, I just couldn’t. I needed to SI in order to feel alive; I needed it to stay alive.
Over time though, I realised how much SI had taken over my life. I was withdrawing from everyone, I could no longer have fun, I couldn’t even be touched or hugged by others… in fear that they would find me out.
In many countries around the world, there is usually some kind of helpline or service that can help start the recovery process with you. With me living in Australia, I used Kids Helpline, a private and confidential phone service for young people – I still use them greatly today.
Making that first call was one of the hardest things I have ever been faced with. Because by calling, I was admitting I needed help, and by saying that, I was also breaking through my own walls to possibly let another person in to help me.
The first counsellor I spoke to was great, and I remember one day extremely well. I had a very strong urge to SI and something in me convinced me to try talking with her first. I had my tools and everything out that I needed, but the important part of this story is what I did throughout the phone session… instead of hurting myself, I forgot about the urge that I first felt which I didn’t even realise had lessened. When I did finally click though, the feeling was bliss!
Since that day, 8 years ago I have been able to let numerous health professionals into my life. Some experiences with telling them about my SI was absolutely horrible, but as someone quite close once said to me “if the first person you tell doesn’t listen or know how to help you, try someone else… somewhere along the line you will always find that perfect person!”
I am female. I am now in my mid-twenties. I started to SI when I was 15 years old. I wish I had never made that first cut. But I strongly believe that no matter what we may face as human beings, we are always able to take back the control and make our lives better. I strive best at my recovery when I am helping others or doing things that may help those people I may not even know.
Recovery is always possible; sometimes you just have to try a few different things to find what works best for you, something that gives your life meaning and a reason to keep going in this battle for recovery and of life!
Photo credit: fourstuarts
We are recruiting for a new Director to join our team! We would love to hear from you if you have personal experience of self-injury, are passionate about the work LifeSIGNS does, and would enjoy volunteering your time and experience to help direct our charitable organisation into the future. If you’re interested, please visit our recruitment page for full details including role specification, requirements, and how to apply. We hope to hear from you.