It’s been 103 days since the last time I took a blade to my skin in order to distract myself from the horror of my own mind. In November, it will be a year since I tried to commit suicide which landed me in a mental institution. In honour of National Suicide Prevention Week, I’d like to take the time to blog about a few illnesses that consumed my life for over 11 years (and counting). This particular post will be about my struggle with self-harm.
*******I will try to keep triggers out of these coming posts, but I know everyone is triggered by different things, so please be cautious! These posts are about awareness and my road to recovery, so the last thing I want to do is cause anyone to harm themselves.
The earliest I can remember doing any kind of self-harm was in middle school (either seventh or eighth grade). It began with a mechanical pencil. I would use the ones with the metal ends (or the lead in the regular plastic ones) and draw shapes on my wrist and hand. At first, I only did it hard enough to leave a mark for an hour or two, but soon it progressed to me drawing them over and over so as to make myself bleed a little and leave a mark for days. I can still see two scars on my left hand from doing this. I didn’t do it often. Only when I felt I needed to or just wanted to.
My freshman year of high school was fairly uneventful in this aspect. I had started high school, and I went to a magnet school, so I was mainly focused on my studies. It slowly started again during my sophomore year. In May of 2010 marked the first time I can remember truly wanting to end my life. I can still remember laying in bed one night, staring at a pocket knife, and contemplating dragging it down my wrist. I started to do it several times, but thankfully I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I never told anyone about that night until the end of my senior year.
My junior year was completely full of school, church (I gave my life to Christ in February of 2011), and overwhelming stress. This is when I began struggling with an eating disorder (but we’ll talk about that some other time). I hadn’t done much in the way of self-harm since that night in May, but it started again then. I started back with the metal on a mechanical pencil. It was worse this time. My scars from this have faded by now, but I can still remember where they were. I never even considered the fact that I was harming myself; I could only think of the fact that it distracted me enough from the immense amount of stress and pain I was in.
For the most part, I managed to stop until July of 2014. I gave what remained of my virginity to a guy I’d only known for a few months. I was driving home from his house that day when I experienced what would the first in a long series of suicidal ideations and tendencies. I came so close to driving my car off a bridge because of how ashamed I was and how much I hated myself. I ended up quitting my job about two weeks after. I think that marked the moment of my down spiral into total depression (I’d suffered from it since I was about 10 years old, but this is when it began to manifest itself in a total life consuming manner).
In August, I began actual cutting. It started with a pocket knife, but that quickly became not enough. I found razor blades in my mom’s sewing kit. I knew that no one used them, so I knew no one would know if one was missing. I live in Texas, so there’s no way I could wear a long-sleeved shirt in August, so I cut on the tops of my thighs where my shorts could cover. That first cut with the blade was all it took; I was hooked instantly. At first, I only cut once or twice. Within a few days, however, I felt the need to cut again. After a week, it became a daily event. For a while, I only cut at the most ten times a day. Soon, I had cutting sessions two – sometimes three – times a day. I became so addicted to it that I started cutting anywhere from 20-40 times in a single session. It got so bad that I began looking for reasons to cut rather than just doing it when I felt the need to; I would purposely look up pictures and posts that I knew would trigger me to cut.
My family finally began noticing the signs of my depression worsening and the signs of being suicidal. Even though I absolutely refused to relay how bad it actually was, I did agree to start seeing a therapist in September. After about a month of weekly hour-hour and a half long sessions, she managed to convince me to stop cutting. I didn’t want to, but in the back of my mind, I knew I needed to.
Stopping would prove to be one of the hardest things to do. Cutting had become the only reason I could cope with life. I was using it a crutch. I had lost the will to survive, but I didn’t have the heart to cause my family that much pain. Through therapy, I learned to take the day one minute at a time. At first I could barely manage to go a single day without cutting, but I did it. Then I managed to go two days without it. Then three. I still cut, but I was finally able to begin recovery. I started wanting to stop cutting for myself and not because my family wanted me to or my therapist told me I should.
Then came November 2, 2014. It was like all the progress I’d made in the last month was null and void. It didn’t matter. I decided to take my life. I couldn’t see an end to my pain. I hated every aspect of myself and my life. I still had one blade left. It was all I needed to off myself. I’m so glad my sister found me and stopped me before I could succeed. I committed myself to the hospital on the 5th. That decision was definitely the turning point in my road to recovery.
I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder with panic attacks, mild Agoraphobia, Bipolar Disorder type II, and Insomnia. I began taking medications, and after a week of being inpatient, I switched to the outpatient program until January. I still struggle with cutting. I still get triggered almost daily, but I’ve managed to overcome my addiction and being triggered.
I don’t know when I’ll be triggered next or in what way, but I know that I can overcome it. There may come a day when I do relapse and cut again, but if I’ve made it this far once, I know I can do it again.
If you are struggling with any kind of mental illness, self-harm, or just need to talk, please feel free to reach out to me. I don’t mind giving out my e-mail to anyone who needs to talk. If you are currently feeling suicidal in any way, please reach out to someone – whether it’s a family member, friend, or stranger. Please get help. Call 1 (800) 273-8255. There are people waiting to talk to you!