TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains information about self-harm and addiction.
So, it’s 6:30pm on the evening of the April 13th, 2019.
Just over an hour ago, I was fighting a battle with my own mind. This had been going on for about two hours, maybe longer. Yesterday afternoon, I had experienced a less extreme incident with my mind. The battle I’m talking about is the decision on whether to relapse with my self-harm addiction or carry on in recovery. On the April 16th, I will be one year and three months strong since the last time I cut myself.
I remember coming across a quote from the internet that said, ‘This is what addicts do. The second they start making progress, they screw up, because deep down they think it’s only a matter of time before they fail. They’d rather fall from the third floor than the penthouse’. I can relate to this. Every time I got to one year or longer in the past, the urges would tend to make me more anxious than the urges after one month or three. I think this is because your brain lies to you, once you’ve already relapsed, you find it easier to carry on that pattern because your thinking says, ‘Well you’ve already given in recently, so why not carry on?’ It can become more difficult when you’ve gone a year or longer because the guilt is worse if you are to fall, just like the quote says, ‘it would be like falling from the penthouse.’ The disappointment is more tense when falling from the penthouse, compared to coming down from the third floor.
Some people who have an addiction to self-harm or any addiction may relate to what I’m going on to say. When you’re in the midst of urges and your head is full of noise, it’s like weighing up whether to listen to the devil on the shoulder or the angel on the other. They are both fighting against each other. In my case, one tells me how much better I’ll feel afterwards, but the angel says how much regret, guilt and shame I’ll feel. The devil tricks me into believing that ‘it will be my last cut,’ but it’s not as simple as that. The angel responds to this by reminding me that once in that cycle of dependency again, it’s not just ‘one cut’, it’s one more, then one more after that, until you are in the depths of destruction. I have to constantly force myself not to believe the lies the devil tells me, which is easier said than done in the moment.
The destructive part screams out at me, it wants to win, it wants to have me believe all different kinds of things and it preys on my insecurities. It’s a whirlwind of emotions, having to try and stay strong when all you can think about is tearing your skin open, picking up the next bottle of alcohol, finding the next drug, whatever it is that numbs the pain or sometimes, makes you feel alive. The pain people inflict on themselves doesn’t just affect them, it affects their loved ones, their family, friends and one of the worst parts is we harm ourselves because we don’t like harming and upsetting others, but consequently the people around us hurt to.
That’s the thing about addiction, it only ‘helps’ things for a short time before we’re back to square one and having to repeat the same actions or worse in order to get the same effect. The battle within my head is never easy, it’s very hard to describe and leaves me feeling mentally and physically exhausted hours, if not days later. However, there one thing I will always try to remember in recovery is that the pride and courage you feel from fighting against your mind and the devil is 100 times better than the relief you feel from giving in to cutting, drinking, etc.
As I’ve said previously in my writing and will always say, recovery is an everyday battle, it never takes time off, but I will continue my road of recovery for the sake of myself, my loved ones and for my hopes and dreams. I’m worth more than hurting myself and you are to.