Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cutting Out Self-Injury, Year 3

My name is Christi, I'm 23 years old, and I'm a recovering cutter.

It has been six months since my last post. A lot has happened in that time - I began and ended a relationship, I graduated university with my English degree, got into graduate school, and as of today, made it to three years without self-injuring.

Looking back at my post from two years ago, Cutting Out Self Injury, I continue to face many of the same struggles outlined there. I compare my cutting to fighting an addiction. It is not uncommon for an alcoholic or drug addict to be sober for years or even decades and still consider themselves in recovery because, chances are, they had to try and fail a number of times before getting to where they are today. It doesn't mean the struggle to steer clear of old self-destructive habits and behaviors has become any easier because there has been no relapse in years. I view my situation in the same way. From the ages of 15-20, cutting was my go-to response for coping with my GAD and depression. I became dependent on it after multiple failures to stop, convinced that it was simply a necessity in my life. I saw it as a clever escape instead of the trap door that it was.

I vividly remember the night I was escorted in hysterics to the county mental health department, sitting in that lonely police car in the dark. It clicked for me that night that although I had tried in the past to quit, NOW was my time. I am unsure to this day exactly what about the situation reawakened my determination to get better: the threat of institutionalization, the realization I had so much to live for, the fear that I was on a slippery slope that could end in death...take your pick. I arrived at the same mindset regardless.

The stigma of mental illness is slowly fading. My story is by no means unique, but I have no shame about my past and am here to put a face to mental illness. Eight years after my initial diagnosis, I am still mentally ill and battle my disorders every day. The urge to go back to my old ways haunts me on a regular basis. Knowing that I have made it three years without giving in to their tempting promises of solace and relief through cutting makes me incredibly proud to say that while I continue to fight, I'm the one winning now. There is hope out there, and I am grateful to be alive to tell how I rediscovered mine.