People are often confused when I tell them I am in recovery.
I’m not what anybody would call a druggie, I only drink when I want to let loose at Way-Ho, and I barely smoke cigarettes.
But I am an addict in recovery.
Despite several celebrities recently stepping out about the issue, self-harm is still an issue that has a lot of stigma attached to it. For a very long time, I was scared to talk about my struggle with this dark issue.
Scared that I would be judged.
Scared that I would be dismissed.
Scared that I would be put on a pedestal and wilt under the pressure.
But if there’s anything I have learned through my journey with self-injury, it’s that keeping it silent only feeds the addiction. It helps it grow stronger while you grow weaker, and I refuse to give it any more of myself than I already have.
Self-harm isn’t what most people think: an attention scheme, a political statement or a suicide attempt (although it can often precede one). Self-harm, for me, was the only way to release my pain without completely falling apart and ruining the façade of my life that I worked so hard to build.
I was the president of several organizations, I consistently performed as a lead in school performances, I was the clown of my friend group, and I was supposed to be a role model for so many. I cracked under the pressure of this and a crumbling home life. I couldn’t make sense of the depression taking over my body, so I released my pain onto myself. I thought this was the most effective and secretive way, but looking back, I also know I couldn’t have hated myself more.
After keeping my struggle a secret for 8 years, I finally realized I couldn’t continue living with the long sleeves, constant secrecy and lame excuses. I had to reach out.
Choosing recovery was the scariest decision I have ever made, because it meant I had to swim like hell against the currents that had drowned me for so long. I had to give up the one thing that gave me relief from self-hatred and depression. I had to come clean to the people who thought I had it all together.
It was the best decision I have ever made.
If you are struggling, know that there is hope, healing and help for you. If you have ever been tempted by the idea, know that looking back on my wasted years breaks my heart, and I would give anything to get them back. If you love someone who struggles with self-harm, know that they can recover from their addiction.
Recovery is an ongoing and constant process, but I am not walking this road alone. I was with thousands of others who are fighting to love themselves, to stay in the light and to reach out to those around them. We walk down this road because we decided drowning wasn’t an option, because we’re fighting the current, because we want to break to the surface.
And trust me when I say, the fresh air has never felt so good.
Tori is a sassy college feminist with a passion for all things caffeinated. She is a big sister to the two coolest humans on Earth, a professor in sarcasm, and someone with a deep obsession with Broad City and English Bulldogs. You can find her many ramblings at http://www.mouthofasaylor.com or on Twitter @tori_saylor.
(Photo via Shutterstock)