If you are sensitive to reading about self injury I must warn you know that you might not want to continue reading this. I will try to not get detailed, but this will require at least a little bit of detail.
Since today is Self Injury Awareness Day, I want to share my experience with self injury. It’s the issue most close to my heart and the one I am most passionate about. When I hear Disciple’s song “Scars Remain” and that line “When I see you, I see scars that are matching,” is sung I always think of all the people who share the same scars I do. All of you who share in this battle with me, you will always have my heart.
My battle with depression started in high school over 15 years ago. I say began because the battle still rages even with the weapons and strength I have gained along the way. However, this was the beginning, and I was unarmed and unaware of what I was facing. My depression spells were very long and very intense in high school, which I theorize is because of the fact that I was a teenager and it’s a tough transitional period so it made it all the more difficult.
I remember one day just trying it out of the blue, the thing that would come to consume me for several years to come. That thing is self injury. There are different ways to self injure one’s self, but the one I always did was cutting. I fell into self injury like an addiction because of my natural tendencies to becoming addicted to what gives me pleasure or relief. It started with a few wounds once a month, and over time that increased to once a week and then even more wounds. At first scratches were fine, but over time that wasn’t enough.
You see, when it comes to addiction, the feeling is trying to fill in a hole inside you that you believe is there. There is emptiness inside you so unbearable that it has to be filled. The problem is that in reality, there was never a hole there to begin with. So instead of filling a hole, we are digging a hole in ourselves. That is why an addiction can never fill you, because you are a digging a hole. Deeper and deeper you dig this hole the farther you go into your addiction. And if you don’t stop digging, that hole will become your grave. I feel that once this hole is dug that your own hands can never fill it back in. The hand of God is the only thing that can fill this void you have created in yourself. You have to have faith that he is there though, because the evil one is going to tug at that hole your entire life and try to convince you that you are still empty when you never were empty. Even when God himself is in that void, evil will still try to convince you he isn’t there.
So, I started digging a hole with self injury. People saw that I was doing it. I remember so many people at my job telling me to stop hurting myself like that would magically make me be able to stop. That doesn’t help by the way, just telling someone to stop hurting themselves. I continued into college still self injuring, with the wounds that still scar me being some of the last cuts I ever did.
I wasn’t able to stop until I met my now husband, but the battle wasn’t over yet. I did not actually quit for me at that point so I was angry for several years afterwards about having to stop. You have to quit for yourself over everyone else. Eventually I was at peace with this decision to quit, and I was able to say I did it for myself.
When it comes to addiction I’m sure everyone is different, but for me the urges never fully go away once I let myself give in that first time and let my mind be convinced that this one thing is the path to happiness. Even when I figure out that it is not happiness, my mind never fully is able to let go of that pathway I have carved into it. Chemicals and addictions mess around with your brain chemicals and rewire how it finds pleasure, and it always makes things worse. So part of me will always think back to self injury when I get depressed. Part of me will always start wanting it again, being convinced that we could be happy again if we just caved in this one time.
It’s never just one more time though, is it?
So in honor of Self Injury Awareness day I am here to tell you that you are not alone if you self injure. When I see you, I see scars that are matching.
I want to tell you that it’s possible to quit self injuring. The road isn’t easy, buts it’s doable because I am on that path now. If you take my hand and come with me you won’t have to be alone on this journey to quitting self injury. There are many of us here that will be walking beside you.
I want to tell you that relapses are a part of recovery. I’ve relapsed too, and it’s hard and it makes you feel like you are back at square one. You’re not at square one though. All the amazing progress you had before a relapse is still valid and amazing. I’m proud of you! I always will be no matter how many times you relapse.
I want to tell you that I believe in you, and I always will believe in you. I went through this and made it through with God forever at my side just so I could sit here and tell you all this!
You have my heart always, all of you who share these scars with me.