[trigger warning for self-harm]
Yes. One year and one-month self-harm free.
Prior to January 2017, the last time I had seriously harmed myself was 2009. I made a promise, I kept the promise, and then 2017 rolled around and hit me like a double-decker bus.
Naturally, I turned to the razor. And yes, I mean naturally because, for me, self-harming is a quick and easy fix to sidetrack me from my current emotions. It’s my way of punishing myself when I feel like I have fucked up. For others, it’s all about releasing tension. And for some, it’s a sure thing to help one feel something when they’ve gone numb to the world.
But the one thing I think all habitual self-mutilators can agree on is that this incredibly destructive action is a full-blown addiction.
Like alcohol. Or drugs. Or shopping at Sephora.
I think that’s the piece “outsiders” find hard to understand. The addiction. Let’s get into the science of things really quickly:
Endorphins are released when one self-harms and it creates a high that basically resembles the high that is produced from drugs and alcohol. So eventually, after repeatedly experiencing this high, one tends to build a dependency on this “feel good” routine, and alas, the addiction is born.
Putting an end to self-mutilation is far beyond making the decision to stop. I can’t tell you how many times I decided this was the end and then found myself in CVS looking for anything sharp enough.
Quitting is all about the actions that follow. The commitment to actively making better choices, something I touched upon in this recent Instagram post.
The journey to being self-harm free this time was a collective effort. It was me telling my loved ones and my therapist that I had relapsed and was starting the process again. This included my boyfriend checking in to make sure I was not thinking of relapsing. I had to rediscover coping mechanisms that were stronger than the old ones and ween myself off of seeking out “quick fixes” for my unwanted emotions. So basically learning to trust the process instead of rushing it. I colored. Meditation became my best friend. I journaled. I fell back in love with creating. I bought myself a waxing pass at my local European Wax Center and threw out all of my razors (and his) until I felt like I could trust myself with them again. I learned to communicate my emotions like a big girl and sort through the emotions and labels others shifted in my direction. I can only own what belongs to me.
But most importantly, I am showing myself oodles of compassion as I commit to a self-harm free lifestyle. There is no sure way of recovering. This shit looks different for everyone. I celebrate each month that goes by, and I don’t beat myself up over my almost moments of weakness. I just continue to remind myself that I am doing the best that I can with each healthy decision I make. And that on its own is providing me with a brand new high and happiness.