07 March 2015

Self-Injury Awareness

March is Self-Injury Awareness month & this hits close to home. I was never that open about this part of my life and I always looked down or ignored the subject when someone brings it up. I never flaunt my past addiction and try not to make my scars visible or the point of a conversation. But as I get older and an aunt to teenagers now, I feel that it is best to be open about it because I don't want them to suffer the same way.

I never had an open relationship with my strict parents and was not comfortable talking to my friends about what's going on.

So here it is, I self-harm from 2003 - 2013. Between 2003 - 2008 were the worst because it went from 0-100 real quick. It became an outlet, then a habit, and turned into a real addiction. After 2008, it became an occasional outlet when stress became, too much.

*** This post is a little sensitive for me to write. No research was involved and all are personal experiences. I am not condoning self-harm and do not wish others to start. I just want to reach out to those suffering and remind you that you can overcome it. I have always wanted to share my story on this matter because it consumed me for almost half of my young life and it slowly mold me into the person I am today. ***

I was a shy middle school student in 2003 who followed the crowd. It was a trend when everyone had little cuts on their wrist and I tried it. I didn't like it the first time until I had my first heart break. I started with little chicken scratches every other night and eventually got over it. In 2004, I had my first big break up where I was lied to, treated like shit, and left hanging. That's when the real addiction started, I was sitting on the corner of my bed under my bed side lamp and crying every night. Each night, the line got deeper and deeper while overlapping the same line from the night before. It got to the point where my skin would split open and it bled once the blade swiped pass.

In late 2005, I was bullied by people who called themselves my "friends" from rumors spread by one person. I felt like it was me against the world and I turned my focus on getting good grades during the day, but at night I felt so worn out that I turned to self-harm. Sometimes I even brought a tool with me to school and often excused myself to the bathroom in between classes to get my "fix".

By 2006, I was using self-harm as a way to get away with feeling pain and stress from everyday petty dilemmas.

What triggered it for me came from feeling like I was binge eating to feeling so low. I didn't show much emotions growing up so no one really knew if they were getting to me. I brought all my pain home and saved it for bed time because I did not let anyone know that they can actually make me cry. After years of crying alone, I began to not feel a thing because I started getting numbed to people's hurtful words and actions. I self medicated to let myself know that I'm still "alive" and it was a way to focus my stress into something else. It helped me forget how cruel people can be because with each line and each drop, it stung and I was crying from that physical pain rather than what I was feeling inside.

Anxiety attacks

What was once my occasional outlet became an addiction because what was once something I turned to for all the stress I faced, I began using it when I am bored. It became a nightly routine even on days when I was having a day. I did not need a reason to turn to it because I was turning an outlet into a habit. A bedtime routine was not complete without it. The habit became so bad that I started hating myself for it. I even tried to do cold turkey and tucking away my "trusty friend" to help me forget, but I felt like I was alone and lost without it. I did not know how to function without my tools and found myself searching for new things to experiment with. There was even a time when I did not know what to do with myself that I swallowed an entire bottle of iron pills and fell asleep on my carpet floor and woke up the next morning disappointed that I was not dead. I wanted to stop self-harming so much that there were nights when I would write letters to my family members in my journal and stand inside my closet staring at a tied up rope that I found in the shed. I hated myself for a long time because I felt like I was different and carried such a taboo secret that everyone flaunt in school for attention, but at the same time no one talked about. 

I thought something was wrong with me because all we learned in school was substance abuse, don't do drug, and use condoms. No teachers ever taught us that self-harm was also an addiction. 

How I overcame it:
Even into my adult life, I still turned to my "trusty friend" 5 years out of high school. Life was getting complicating because I was stressing about the future, and I did not know what I was supposed to be. It took me 24 years to realized that I am capable of controlling how I faced each stress and where I should focus on. I learned to love myself through trial and error. I found my happy place and where my presence was appreciated. I finally found peace when Joel told me that he loves me so much and begged me to never hurt myself again. 

All I needed was someone to say that when I hurt myself, they share that pain I feel. I just wanted to hear someone tell me that they care as much as they showed it. I overcame this part of my life by finally  realizing that I needed to surround myself with people that cares, makes me happy, and never ask me to be someone else other than myself. 

Today I live by Mahatma Gandhi's "No one can hurt me without my permission."

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