Today it has been 461 days since I last harmed myself.
This weekend, an old friend of mine came to stay. Recently she has been going through some issues (obviously I will no go into them here as they are her issues and not mine) but to cut a long story short, I want to tell you about something that will rock your world.
Image courtesy of Julia Pearlman, The Site.Org
On Sunday evening I noticed that familiar pattern of cuts across her forearm. Funnily enough, I wasn’t even looking for it, and if she didn’t bring it to my attention by mentioning the fact she didn’t want to wear short sleeves, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed it at all. The fact that I wasn’t subconsciously scanning her arms for any signs of self harm is a revelation in itself. At some point in the last 12 months I must have stopped this habit, and it makes me wonder why. Perhaps being happy in simply being myself is enough to stop me desperately seeking out others who share my secret shame? Perhaps if you stop cutting for long enough, the need to be in that ‘club’ slowly goes away too?
The second thing which was equally surprising was my reaction to actually seeing the cuts on her arm, and the way I felt about it. Previously I would find seeing wounds on other peoples arms (particularly fresh cuts) very triggering, and then would struggle with my own intense urges to cut myself. This time – nothing. I felt compassion and empathy for her and her situation, but I felt nothing in terms of my own urges. For the first time since I starting harming myself nearly 14 years ago, I was not triggered by the sight of self harm.
I have been amazed how I have been coping recently with life events such as my Dad’s illness or the death of my Aunt Thelma. I have been so proud of myself, and I believe I am now well on the journey to loving myself, and looking after myself. All through these events I have not given a second thought to self harm, which makes me wonder whether the way my disorder has been treated in the past was the right form of treatment for me after all.
Therapy and medication did nothing to stop my self harming behaviour, however concentrating on improving my quality of life through diet, exercise, hobbies, quality time and a new relationship has appeared to heal me in a way nothing else before has been able to. Perhaps forgetting about the self harm and concentrating on the important basics of life is the best way to treat Borderline. Similar to the phrase, “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves” – Perhaps improving your quality of life is enough to stop the cutting behaviour once and for all. Perhaps taking away the REASONS for self harm, will take away the behaviour as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have ‘down’ days, and struggle with certain things. I know that I need to work on the things I find hard, and will probably spend the rest of my life working on them. I know there will be times where my life may return to darkness, and I need to be prepared for that. However, I fully intend to live my life to the full. I am not willing to waste any time given how much of my life has already been swallowed up by mental illness.
I hope I can bring as many people as possible along with me for the ride. My journey has made me who I am and given the chance, I probably wouldn’t change it. Keep strong guys.
Image courtesy of http://oraclesandhealers.wordpress.com