The following post could be triggering to those currently struggling with self harm and/or depression. If you ever in crisis or need hope in a time of darkness, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US) or, for those not in the states, to a Suicide Hotline in the UK.
By Amanda Grace
#Fearless Family Writer
This is the first time I ever wrote about this, so bear with me.
I never imagined that one day I’d make a conscious choice to intentionally hurt myself. Yet, almost 9 years ago, at age 30, I found myself doing just that. It was confusing; what was I doing? What had I done? How did this happen? How did I let it?
One of the phrases that I cannot get out of my mind is, “I know better!!”. I’m a Social Worker, a Christian, a mentor; I’ve written safety contracts with children and here I was acting as if none of that mattered. It was and still is beyond frustrating.
Since that first time, I have learned so much about myself. I realize now that I never imagined feeling like I did in the moments before I made that unforgettable choice to cut/scratch my skin. I felt more overwhelmed emotionally than I ever had had. The scariest thing about self-injury is that it works, or at least that is what we tell ourselves.
Something else I have learned is that I have a choice. There are so many other options to express my frustrations, anger and sadness. I don’t have to hurt myself. That being said, it still hard to imagine my life without it sometimes. It is so much easier to SI than to sit with those uncomfortable feelings and emotions. However, I know the choice not to hurt myself is the best choice-always. I have distracting behaviors like journaling, holding an ice pack, taking a walk, changing scenery. Sometimes I just need to ride out the wave of whatever emotion I am feeling.
I have learned to reach out during those tempting times. I told my therapist about it, probably 5 months after it started. I have confided in my wife and she holds me accountable, especially when she sees me stressed. We have an agreement: when she asks me whether or not I have cut, I always tell her the truth. I still make mistakes; it is a daily struggle. But it can be overcome!
Today, I am a therapist working with children and families. I counsel children. I am a role model. This is terrifying and exciting simultaneously. I hear their stories and their secrets. I understand the temptation and urge. I understand the feeling of relief and then shame.
My advice for someone who struggles thoughts about SI is: don’t ever start. If you already have a history of self-injury, find someone you trust, preferably a professional, and make a commitment to be honest about your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
If you suspect or know of someone who is engaging in self-injurious behaviors, be kind, gentle, have patience and respect their space. They may not be ready to talk or ready to admit they have a problem. They may not even think it is a problem.
Thank you to Amanda for sharing her story!
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