So, it's been ages since I've logged onto RYL, and I'm honestly surprised to find myself here. I'm not who I used to be, and that's a good thing, overall. I've fixed a lot (not all) of my self esteem issues, I finally have a goal in my life, friends, I'm doing really well in school, etc. I'm a bit older, a bit slower, and a bit less driven than I used to be, but that's mostly because I don't feel so inadequate, so I don't push myself as hard. I'll count that as a minor side effect of an overall positive change.
So...how do I find myself here? I haven't consistently self harmed in years, now. It was something that I absolutely needed to get under control for myself, and that I committed to fixing before I went back to school. But I still slip up every year or so, and mostly I forgive myself for that and move on. Things happen, and if I've gone from every few hours to every day to every week, month, and now year or so, I consider that consistent progress; it just takes longer to see improvements once you've made it here. Last year, I had a slipup during a very stressful week or so with a lot of social things going on at once and an argument with my best friend (which is always the biggest issue for me). I figured my sh¡t out, apologized, and told one of my other friends I'd slipped up.
Now, though...I'm backing off of my friendships. I wasn't doing them right, so I'm taking a step back, setting boundaries, and focusing on schoolwork. My friend needs more space, so I'm giving that to them. And overall my life is going well right now. Except, a few weeks ago, during yet another fight with my good friend, I got a bit drunk and cut myself and...it didn't work. Granted, I chickened out and didn't do a good job of it, but still. That freaked me out more than a little. Honestly, that's been the cause of a few of my longest streak losses - the fear that it's been so long that it wouldn't work for me anymore. Anyway, this bugged me for a few weeks, and then today I finally, calmly, decided what the hell and went back to my original trick (pins). I didn't do anything impressive, but it did work, and I remembered just how much I missed it.
And I realized...I have my life together, a perfectly normal social life by normal people standards (better than average, actually), I'm successful, and I'm not uncontrollably emotional or self-hating as I used to be when this was a problem for me. My method doesn't cause permanent injury or scarring. It hurts as much as I want it to, for as long as I want it to, and no more or less. Nobody knows about it (I didn't tell my friends about either of these instances, unlike past ones). I'm not in emotional distress and doing this because I'm miserable; there's nothing really to fix on that front. So what's so wrong with it, done this way? What's the problem? I used to fit pretty firmly into the obvious SI boxes, but now I...really don't. And I guess I'm having a harder time seeing why I shouldn't do something that works for me, that makes me feel good, that challenges me, if it's just a me problem and doesn't affect anyone else and doesn't mess up my life.
Anyone else found their relationship with self harm change over the years, particularly with a long, fairly successful recovery period in the interim?
Hey there I'm sorry to see that you're struggling right now. The hardest part of self harm recovery is knowing that it does work sometimes (for me anyway). Don't look at yourself as a coward for not wanting to harm in that way anymore, you could look at it as growth. It's okay to get better, and it's okay to slip up. It seems like you're doing really well in terms of identifying things that cause this urge for you and most of the feelings surrounding it.
I've noticed with my own self harm that it has changed over the years, different methods and reactions, after heavy periods of active SH and long periods of being SH free. After over a year I returned to self harm very hesitantly in fear that I wouldn't be able to stop again.
Do you have any distractions that work better for you? Anyone to reach out to? I know posting here can help. I am proud of how far you've come in your recovery and I wish you well. Reach out at any time.
Yeah, thanks...I ended up talking things out with a friend, which I generally try to avoid (it's a little needy and pressure-y). I guess I just don't really see a downside? But I'm not falling apart or anything. I just want to do this. I think it's how I challenge and distract myself to help me shut everyone out, which I probably shouldn't be doing, so I guess that's something to work on. But I guess I don't see why the ideal goal isn't shutting everyone out, so there's my next project.
I can relate to some of what you’re saying, cweed. For years I’ve been SI-ing, in various ways, nobody knows (apart from those I’ve told). The way I do it is not dangerous, I’m feeling ok and have made a work carrier during this time. Apart from the first years I’ve been fairly stable and the only reason for stopping is that it’s socially inept. Which is a good reason for stopping and, for me, the only one.
But if so, why be on RYL? Something is wrong with cutting beyond social deviancy, I realize that. But that’s all I understand and that’s not enough for me. Hope you find better reasons.
I've actually never told somebody before, at least not somebody who could just listen, ask a few questions, and leave it at that. People have known, or I've had to ask them for help for first aid reasons, or they've kind of 'caught me out', but nothing like this. It was...surprisingly helpful. Made me realize some things that I hadn't before, like the fact that a large part of my motivation is proving to myself that I am strong enough to push everyone away and not rely on them. Or even just the change in perspective from hiding it defensively, because it'll be a big deal...to just wondering how things would seem from my friend's perspective as someone who was there, aware, but not trying to interfere. Like, they're not overreacting to the fact that it's SI itself, but how would this seem if they knew as much as I do about what's going on, how would it look from that angle? Makes some of the ridiculousness stand out to my own self, and made me aware of how problematic it could end up being for our friendship and their comfort/concern level when hanging out with me, if they were just aware even if they didn't feel responsible for changing anything.
Interesting stuff. I think it's quite helpful. Not sure which direction I'm gonna go, yet, though.
You know the other big difference? It used to be, I'd get all of these negative thoughts and spirals and whatnot and being depressed or anxious kind of stemmed from that. Now, it's like...I've addressed the thought patterns, but I still feel...sh¡t...sometimes. And then it's easy to fill the old bad thought patterns back in, but whether they come or not, I'm still miserable. I know that if I give in and start cutting, I'll end up in a bad place overall. It's tiring, it takes up a LOT of time and mental energy, and with the way my school and my job work now, it would be difficult to hide (and even more crucial to do so).
Anywho, I think I've found a new method that will be easier to keep under the radar and works decently for me. Here's to hoping.
Trying to get into therapy, but I don't hold any hopes that it will be helpful. It never has been before.
Everyone feels crappy sometimes. It's perfectly normal. It's just that our habits of dealing with feeling crappy aren't the best, really. The best is to address the source of the problem. What makes you feel miserable?
It's a good thing that you realize going back to cutting isn't going to achieve anything and will only bring you additional trouble. I think you're very wise and mature about that part of the issue.
The thing is, there are different methods of SH. Some are more noticeable and some are more discreet, some are more risky and some are less, but they all are bad for you and non of them gives any closure, any long-term relief. They just put you into a position where you're doing it again and again, until it stops working and you amp it up or switch to something else. It doesn't do anything with underlying emotional problems, it's just sweeping them under the rug and under the furniture where they keep accumulating like trash in a room of a teenager that refuses to clean. And well, those do need to be cleaned out. I understand feeling disappointed in therapy, but it can really work. Maybe this therapist is different, maybe this time something else will change, but please, never stop hoping that you can find help. Because you really can. Good luck!
It just doesn't WORK. Seriously, I've gotten to the point where I don't even have the thought spirals or negative thoughts and I still just have weeks where I feel so low it's like I'm dying. It ruins my productivity, it ruins my relationships, and it honestly ruins my image of me, because it's surprisingly less terrible-feeling to say "OK, what were the explanations I used to have for this?" and think those things than to just be like "well, I'm eating healthy, I exercise, I have a robust social life, I am academically successful, and I have good, close friends that I can count on in any situation but who draw healthy boundaries for themselves so I don't have to worry...and yet I still feel like crap." At least if I think I suck, I have a reason, and I push myself harder and am more productive. Now it's just...I get sad. Really sad. For no reason. And nothing I have done, no matter how much work it's taken, has stopped that.
So yeah. Cutting doesn't fix anything, long-term. But I don't know that this can be fixed. So why not tackle short-term, unfixable, with short-term, non-fixing?
Sorry...it's been a rough week. Despite that my life is going great right now.