Sunday, 5 May 2019

1 Year Self Harm Free | Overcoming Self Harm

I can't believe that I am writing this post, the post that seemed impossible and the post that I thought would never come. I am one year clean from Self Harm, for the first time since 2012. Six whole years of blood, tears and a poorly brain with no hope that I'd ever be able to stop and here I am, around 365 days clean. I can't believe it.

Self Harm is an addiction, once you start it feels impossible to stop and I have therefore done too much damage to my body, my only body that is with me until the day I die. I can live with this body and I can live with my scars because I wouldn't be who I am today without my journey or without my past. 

Addiction is cruel, it is intense and it can become the most important aspect of your life, turning your lovely, innocent self into what often feels like a monster. This addiction has shaped me into the person I am today. It has been there through my highs and my lows and I depended on it more than anything, I knew it'd get me through each and every day but overcoming it is allowing me to be free. It hasn't been easy, there has been many times when I could have relapsed but something changed in my mind and I didn't want self harm to be part of me anymore, I didn't want the guilt, shame and endless trips to A&E anymore, I wanted to be free, I wanted to be able to live without it, I didn't want to continue using it as my coping mechanism whenever even the smallest of things went wrong, I didn't want to have to wear short sleeves in the summer because I had open wounds, I didn't want to have to look after stitches and staples and I didn't want anymore scars.

I lost so much to self harm but at the time it felt like the only option, the only thing that would make me feel better, even if it was only for five minutes until the reality kicks in of what I had done. I had multiple rounds of therapy, years of treatment for my mental health but throughout it all, the only thing that made anything better was being able to self harm. But I also knew deep down that I didn't want that life anymore, I just couldn't escape. I didn't feel in control of it and in reality, I wasn't, at all. I never wanted to have to go to A&E after each time I'd self harmed, that wasn't my intention but it was as if I blacked out and then all of a sudden I needed treatment. If someone would have told me when I first started self harming that in just a couple of years it'd escalate to needing treatment, something so severe that I didn't even know it was possible then I would have been too scared to continue using it as a coping mechanism. There are a lot of what ifs, what if I had stopped sooner? What if I didn't let it get worse? What if I wasn't covered in all of this scars? What if I did go and seek treatment for all of the ones that needed it instead of feeling like I deserved a huge scar? But we're not here for the what ifs, we're here for the now.

Quitting self harm was a challenge, I didn't wake up one day and decide that enough was enough and that I was never going to hurt myself again because I had tried that countless times before and it never worked, I took each day as it came and every time I got the urge to self harm I just thought about how much pain I was putting the people around me in, it wasn't just about me feeling better and causing pain to myself, I was also projecting the pain onto my family and friends because even if I didn't tell them I'd self harmed, they'd soon notice a new scar appear. It hasn't been easy but as the months went by, I wanted to reach six months clean like I had a few years prior, I remembered how proud everyone around me was and I wanted this time to be the last. Six months past and from there on, I didn't think about how many months clean I was, I just knew that I'd managed six months without it so I needed to keep going and then a few weeks ago it occurred to me that I am almost one year clean. The initially first few months are the hardest, but after that it soon becomes normal and now, I can't see myself ever going back to it. I don't understand how I managed to put myself through that much pain and damage and how it possibly ever made me feel better, but it did and that's how addiction works.

I have permanent scarring covering my body, especially my arms, I sometimes lose sensation in my fingers because of nerve damage, I have dents in my skin, parts of my body are distorted and my scars burn easily in the sun. Self Harm isn't something to brush off as it has lifelong consequences and can be so dangerous but I'm learning to live with my scars and to not be ashamed of them, when I am at home I don't even notice they're there. I know that they will never disappear, but they may continue to fade but as for now, they're a reminder that I don't want to go back to being stuck in the grips of self harm because you can learn to cope in other ways, it just takes some time, commitment and desire.

The UK has the highest rate of Self Harm within Europe with an estimated 400 in 100,000 people self harming however, these rates are likely to be much higher as many people keep it a secret.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

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