So I am not new to this site but I haven’t visited in a long time, so long in fact that I had to create a new profile. The title of my post is recovery because I am in fact recovering. However recovery doesn’t mean that you won’t get the urges to SI, it just means that you are choosing to move forward and enjoy, appreciate, and love yourself. I haven’t SIed since January. However, I came back to this site because I felt like I could handle it and that I could say something that would help others. I guess it would be helpful to give some background information.
I started SI in tenth grade when I was 14. Unlike some of you who struggle with confiding in your friends, I told two of my best friends immediately afterward (these girls had always had a huge impact on my life in that time). They weren’t quite sure how to handle it besides encouraging me to stop. I continued to SI. That summer was the worst of my life. I was in full blown depression, I began drinking, and I was still self-harming. I felt as though I was in a black hole that no one could understand or lift me out of. All I had to look forward to were the moments of relief I earned in my self-destructive behaviors. I met a boy that summer who had a huge influence on my life. We were just friends but he helped me out so much. I felt so entirely comfortable with him that I confided everything into him. That summer I confided in two best friends from dance. I just pulled them into the bathroom and showed them the scars. I felt sick I was so nervous, but it turned out alright. Although they did not understand, they still loved me and cared for me. They were actually happy that they now had a much clearer picture of me (they would tell me their life stories but I could never confide the same way in them with such a terrible secret looming over my head).
School eventually rolled around and I entered my junior year. It started out great until one night in ballet. The boy I had grown close with over the summer didn’t go to my school so I didn’t see him. When we talked it was weird, as though there was something between us. I was worried. One of the girls I had told my secret to over the summer went to school with him. That same day when things were weird between the guy and I, I texted my girl friend asking what was going on. She told me that one of her school friends had started injuring and had confided in her. When I demanded her to tell me who it was (so I could talk to them before the issue got worse) she refused. She said that he told his parents right away and he hadn’t gone to school because his parents took him directly to a therapist. It wasn’t until ballet that night that I learned the truth… It was my guy friend who had begun injuring. He had not told me because he did not want me to feel like it was my fault.
Guilt crashed over me like a wave. I felt as though I were suffocating in it. I confronted the boy and he claimed that he had not told me because he knew I would blame it on myself. Despite his affirmations that it was not my fault, I knew it was. He made me promise to go to a trusted teacher the next day and tell her my terrible secret. The other girl I told over the summer also gave me an ultimatum: tell someone or she would. I did as they asked. Little did I know, but teachers are required by law to report things of this nature. My mother is a social worker/administrator and knew all the guidance counselors in my school. I was not ready to tell my parents so I begged my teacher to tell the nurse instead. She did and the nurse gave me two options: either she would tell the guidance counselors or I could tell my parents and have my mom call to say that I was seeing a therapist.I was so distraught. I thought my world was ending.
For my whole life I had always been the perfect daughter, perfect grades, perfect image, perfect daughter, perfect extra-curriculars, loved by all and here I was going to destroy the perfect image I had modeled my life around for my parents. It was terrifying. I lashed out at the boy and the two girls, I absolutely HATED them for forcing me to do this. I don’t think I had ever been angrier in my life. That night my parents were going to a concert so my grandmother was coming over to take care of my little sister while I went to my college class. When I got home from school, I wrote a letter to my parents. They next day when my dad was dropping me off at school, I handed him the letter and asked that he and my mom read it together. I specified in the letter, not to call me out of school, I was trying to maintain my last day of normalcy. When I got home my parents were crying. It was obvious that I had broken their hearts (yet I wanted to scream at my mother for being a stupid idiot and not recognizing in me what she saw in the kids she worked with everyday).
That monday my mother called and informed the nurse that I would be seeing a therapist. The therapist she brought me to was the best one my mother knew and told me that I could say anything to the therapist about her, she didn’t care if I ruined her professional image. The therapist diagnosed me as being depressed and having an anxiety disorder. I didn’t tell my parents of this diagnosis. I didn’t believe it. I thought that this was how I was supposed to be and nothing was wrong. I only made it to about three sessions. I put back on my happy face for the world. I convinced everyone I was fine.
The truth of the matter is that I was not ready to heal. I couldn’t accept that I had a problem. To get better you must first want to get better.
I continued to SI and drink and my parents had no clue that anything was amiss; I kept bringing home straight A’s in AP and college classes and earned lead roles in dance shows and plays and started my first job and was in the popular group at school. No one could see that I was falling apart, that my world was crashing down. BUT THAT WAS BECAUSE I CHOSE THAT. I refused to let people in and lied to everyone. If you are scared of telling people you’re secret, don’t be. It is the best and most liberating thing ever. Sure, there will be some people who don’t understand, but why should you care? Obviously they are not worth having in your life or caring about.
I have come to realize that I have this double standard, I care so much for others and am willing to do anything to stop their pain, but I can’t let anyone in to fix me. When one of the original girls (who was friends with that boy) injured herself, I freaked out on her. We got in a huge fight and I made her stop. But if I felt that it was so bad for her to do, why couldn’t I care about myself? Why was it okay that I harm myself? That guilt that I had caused her to hurt herself came crashing down on my head. It hurt me to look at her because every time I did, it hurt me more and caused me to injure more. By the end of junior year, it kept getting worse. I wasn’t telling anyone. I couldn’t. I also found out that I had injured myself dancing, and injury that was so bad that if I didn’t stop dancing and go to physical therapy ASAP I would never walk again. As you can probably guess, I began to drink and SI even more. I didn’t have the support of that boy anymore because he said he was done with me if I couldn’t even help myself. I had pushed everyone away.
On the outside I was fine…. On the inside I was a mess.
I met a boy that summer. A boy that would play a large part in my life. He cared about me so much (as a friend). He also suffered from depression and understood what I was going through. We supported each other. Things began to look up. I was not SIing although I continued to lie to my parents and drink.
It was October when my life changed. I went out the night before Halloween with a girl I wasn’t really close with. All I remember that night is arriving to the party and flashes of boys and falling and a medic saying that I could die and my friends (they had been called by people at the party) holding me and crying…
I had gotten alcohol poisoning. Hypothermia. And I broke my front right tooth…
I woke up that Saturday morning in a bed I didn’t recognize with a swollen face, and no tooth.
Telling my parents everything was just as bad as telling them the first time I injured…
I was grounded for three months. Being stuck in my house 24/7 (without dance or friends) caused my depression to worsen. I had become friends with a boy in school who was in therapy for depression and he urged me to seek help. It wasn’t until January that I did. It was right after I had my last episode of self-injuring. I had gone to a film festival at school and my friend had made a documentary on bullying. I had been bullied so bad in sixth grade that I had switched classes. The subject was always a tough one for me. In her documentary, she interviewed my tormentor (she didn’t know that I had even been bullied let alone by him. When she had asked me for an interview during the filming of it, I had evaded her). He didn’t even care what he had done to me, he thought it was funny. I ran out of the auditorium and cried in the bathroom. That night was the last time I SIed. Some good did come out of it though, I was able to confide in some school friends about everything. I approached my mother after we had come home from a holiday party and asked to go back to my therapist. I was finally ready to beginning the process of forgiving myself and healing.
I went to therapy for about two months. Even in that short amount of time I made immeasurable progress. I am no longer so frustrated at my parents. I able to enjoy not being in control all the time and just go with the flow. I appreciate everything I have and I love my family even more. I’ve forgiven myself for all the mistakes I’ve made and learned to love everything I am, even my flaws. When my friend tried to commit suicide, it made me realize that life is too short. My therapist also helped to relieve my guilt I felt from being the only one my friend confided in about her plans and my frustration at not being able to do anything to help her. I rarely have the urges to harm myself anymore and I’m not even medicated.
NO ONE IS PERFECT AND THAT IS THE BEST PART OF BEING HUMAN. Accept yourself for everything you are, life is too short not too.
YOU CAN DO THIS!!!! YOU CAN MAKE IT THROUGH ALL OF YOUR STRUGGLES IF YOU JUST ASK FOR HELP!!!!
I know that it seems as though everyone is encouraging you to confide in someone or seek help and if you are anything like I was, you would think that you were beyond saving, that you didn’t nee help and could handle it on your own, that no one understands, that nothing’s wrong, that nothing anyone else can say will make any sort of difference, that you don’t like talking to people…….etc etc. But honestly, those are just excuses. BE HAPPY AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE! Professionals can help you, I promise!
I know that this is a really long post but I just wanted to say what I needed to. If I can help one person then I have made a difference.
What my mother once said to me is that she was worried for me being around kids who were feeling just as poorly as I. I couldn’t understand her concern at the time because to me these kids who were depressed were helping me. Hindsight has given me the ability to see that she was right. Sever friendships with those who feel as poorly as you, they will only bring you down more.
My last piece of advice is that you shouldn’t enter therapy or a rehab with the thought that everything will be magically okay now that you made the step to change. Therapy is emotionally hard but satisfying, yet it is not an instantaneous process. I still have really bad days. I still use substances and have lost friends because of it (including the boy I met over the summer). And I haven’t been to therapy in a while. But I am not willing to change my alcoholic ways.
As Oscar Wilde said: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow.”