Thursday, February 28, 2013

Self-Harm Awareness Day

Apparently tomorrow (March 1st) is self-harm awareness day, and it's also national eating disorder awareness week, which is also a form of self-harm. Are you planning to participate? I have never fully participated before. I would write "love" on my arms where I cut, but then cover it with long sleeves or a jacket. So, this year, I'm participating. I haven't decided exactly how just yet, but below are some ideas I'm kicking around. I realize I'm posting this a bit late for very many of you to participate, but I hope you'll consider trying out some of my ideas whenever you read this.

Writing "LOVE" on my arms (in marker so it'll stay put all day). This idea originates from an awesome organization called To Write Love on Her Arms. Go check them out! They deal with depression, self-injury, suicide, and related issues.

Being brave enough to discuss the issue with someone new. This doesn't have to mean sharing my own struggles, though it could.

Leaving encouraging notes around the library (where I'll be practically living tomorrow) for others to find, including the url for this blog. Sometimes, we all just need an unexpected positive surprise, don't you think?

Plastering my Facebook and Tumblr with positive messages and links to help for those dealing with self-harm issues.

So, what are you going to do? Leave some comments!

And don't forget to answer the positive self-harm song challenge!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Lies We Believe

First, a teensy bit of housekeeping. I hear some of you have submitted comments, but they have not actually come through to me. I've addressed this with Google and they told me that it must be that your browsers are either old, buggy, or have third-party cookies disabled. Whatever that means. I do know you should make sure that you see the little "your comment is awaiting moderation" message. So, if no comments come through in the next couple of days (Please load up the comments section so I can test the changes I've made on my end!), I'll probably set up an email for y'all to send comments to. Okay, now that that's out of the way...

Today has been rough. I've felt triggered, or on the edge of triggered, all day long for no good reason. Ever have days like that? Days where something just feels wrong?

I've come to the conclusion that these days are frequently a result of our believing what someone else has told us. For example, I am overweight, and my believing what society tells me, that this makes me unattractive, can send any day into a tailspin. I also sometimes fall into believing that my marriage defines me, which would not be a good thing; that my cutting, depression, or other issues keep me from being worthy of anything; and, even worse, that my weaknesses mean that I can't be Christian, that I can't be saved.

So, let's address the one common theme, here: shame - shame about our bodies, shame about our beliefs, shame over recent actions, shame about our relationship status, shame about our job, shame about our illnesses or struggles. In the words of one of my favorite songs, "Let no one caught in sin remain inside the lie of inward shame" (Matt Maher, "Christ is Risen"). Did you catch that - the lie of inward shame. That shame you feel, it's not true. Should you ask forgiveness for things you do wrong? Absolutely, but then it's over. No shame. Should you strive to be healthy in all ways? Yes, but that does not mean being ashamed of your current body or mental health state.

What lies have you caught yourself believing? Do you have a way to combat them? Share away in the comments!

Oh - and don't forget the song challenge! Find any song, any genre, that addresses self injury, depression, and/or related issues in a positive way and share the title and artist below. You can also create a song and share the link to a recording of it!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Challenge Time!

My life revolves around music. There is always a song in my head, even when music isn't playing. My tastes are extremely varied, from country to rap to Christian. Basically, if it's good music with good lyrics, I'll listen. 

It occurred to me today, while listening to music at work, I realized that only the heavier genres explicitly address self-injury. (At least in my experience. If you know of other songs that do, please leave me the info in the comments!!) However, the songs that I know of that address self-injury and its common causes, such as depression and abuse, do not do so in a positive or helpful way. Some even glorify it. Take these lyrics from Eminem's version of "Love the Way You Lie," which addresses abuse, for example:

I apologize, even though I know it's liesI'm tired of the games, I just want her back, I know I'm a liarIf she ever tries to f****n' leave again, I'ma tie her to the bedAnd set this house on fire

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn?Well that's alright because I like the way it hurtsJust gonna stand there and hear me cry?Well that's alright because I love the way you lieI love the way you lieI love the way you lie

We can quibble over whether or not this is a good song. I do appreciate its rhythm for sure, and it's a pretty realistic window into a mutually abusive relationship, in my limited experience. But I think it's pretty clear that the "characters" in the song are not moving toward a healthy relationship. (Lies, arson, murder, acceptance of those things...Yup! Sounds healthy to me!)

So, here's my two-fold challenge to you:
  1. Find me songs about depression, self-injury, or related topics that deal with the subjects in a positive way. Leave the details in the comments below!
  2. If you're so inclined, write a song and publish it to Youtube and share the link with us in the comments!
  3. (I know, I said two, you can deal with it) Remember to leave me comments about the things that make your life worth living.

*All comments are moderated, so if you want to leave a comment just for me, I can absolutely read it without publishing it! (Just leave me your contact info so I can respond.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Simple Things

I've had a rough couple of days. I almost didn't write about them, but I promised you a hopeful recovery blog, not one without any struggles. Plus, if I (or any of you out there trying to recover) pretend things are always okay, the odds that I get overwhelmed and relapse again increase. Isn't it fascinating how the simplest things become triggers? As one of my dear tumblr friends said, self-injury is such a funny, ambiguous thing. So, here are the simple things that have triggered me the last couple of days. Can you relate?

Yesterday, I helped throw a baby shower for one of my dear friends. I am aware that, due to my medical inability to have children, all things baby are triggering. However, I had prepared myself and was genuinely having a good time. Until my friend mentioned that she couldn't wait to throw showers for some of us, and told me that she thought an adoption shower would be fun. For several reasons, this is not an option at the moment, and it was physically painful to have the option brought up. Definitely triggered. It wasn't my friend's fault. In fact, those offhand triggering comments from people are rarely, if ever, intentional. I think that's what makes them so hard to deal with, because I can't prepare myself for them, and I can't relieve the trigger by being angry at them. But still, I would rather think carefully about the situation and realize that my friends are not intentionally hurting me than to assume that they are. Are there any friends or situations that you need to give the benefit of the doubt?

Today, I got up and started my day as normal. Mondays usually involve little human interaction (which is good for everyone, because I am not a Monday person!). However, I remembered that I was supposed to have lunch with a friend today. A friend who does not know about the SI. I went back into the bedroom to change, since I would need long sleeves because I am not yet comfortable enough with this friend to share my story. (I know, I see the irony - I'm perfectly willing to share with all of you, most of whom I have never met, but I'm afraid to tell a newish friend.) Suddenly, my day was centering around my SI again, which is never a good feeling. What causes your day to suddenly center around your SI?

Although the last two days have been difficult, I've survived them without resorting to self-harm. I've even taken time out to intentionally find the good in things. For example, work is going extremely well - my bosses appreciate my work and regularly tell me so. I also have a fantastic group of friends; so fantastic that I truly believe that those who don't yet know about the SI would be supportive if they did. And today, I realized I'd finally regained my faith when I encouraged a friend in his.  I won't tell you my life is perfect. The above post proves that. But my life is certainly still worth living. What makes your life worth living? (I'd love to make a future post of all the positive things y'all see in your lives! Leave me enough answers to do so!)

Leave me some comments! Answer the questions above, ask some of your own, share your story, whatever you like. I'll read every comment and post them if appropriate or, if private and you give me a way to contact you, I'll respond.

Love you all!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sweetly Broken

"We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreparably broken." --John Green

Before you dismiss that quote as pointless dreaming, as I did the first time I heard it, let me give you some examples of people who, just like you, once thought they were irreparably broken but discovered that they were not.

First, one of my lovely tumblr friends, posted a story about her venture into town to hang out with real people for awhile (really, who among us hasn't been guilty of shutting out the "real" world when we're struggling?) which resulted in the realization that she was not permanently broken:

I saw a guy who I’d met a few times and recognized. He rolled a fag for me because I’m really awful at rolling, and as he did so, I noticed masses of self harm scars up his arms, going right up his sleeves. I was a little shocked at first, and I had to look back a few times, although I was scared he’d notice. I realized that he must be proud of his scars, because he didn’t put a jacket on all night, he stayed in his short sleeved t-shirt, showing his scars off to the world. It really made me think that one day, when I’ve stopped and fully recovered, I will wear short sleeves and shorts, and I will not care what anyone thinks. I’ll be open about it, and I’ll tell people what I did to myself and why, and I’ll tell them that I recovered and that I’m proud of myself.
You can find and follow this lovely woman at WellWouldYouBelieve. She is fighting to recover from self-injury and, understandably, her tumblr does contain some triggering posts, so look with caution. 

Second, a blogger who, unfortunately I can't seem to find again (I'll post a link if I ever do), was considering what to tell her children about her scars when they were old enough to ask. I read on, but honestly expected her to come up with some elaborate excuse. Rather, she concluded that she would tell them the truth. Rather than broken beyond repair, she views her life experiences as teaching tools for her children. Now that's what I call seeing the good in things!

Finally, there's me. I thought I was broken beyond repair. I had given up my faith. I had given up most of my friends. I had just flat given up on life. I thought I had nothing left to offer and that there was nothing meaningful left for anyone to offer to me. Then, at my lowest, I reread some texts from an old friend. They made me realize that people did care, that my friend had both contributed valuable things to my life and thought I had valuable things to contribute to others. Now, I blog to let you all know you're not alone. I'd like to think that is evidence that I am not broken beyond repair, either.

So, when you find yourself getting down or thinking that you couldn't possibly go another day, remember - you are not broken beyond repair. You may not see it yet, or even for awhile, but you have something to contribute to this world. You are here for a reason. And you can be used, scars and all. In fact, those scars may be exactly what you can use to make this a better world. So take a deep breath, put away your blade (or whatever you use), and and do something nice for someone else. Trust me, it feels awesome.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

One More Try

Last night, I read my nightly devotional. It talked about just fighting to "stay in the race," so to speak, referencing Philippians 3:14 "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Honestly, the concept of pressing on toward the prize of heaven is not a concept that motivates me on my worst days - it frequently does more harm than good. However, the idea of just trying one more time does appeal to me, and I thought it might help you out, too.

Consider this: I began this outreach within twelve hours of self-injuring. Typically, I spend at least twenty four hours after self-injury beating myself up for it, feeling guilty, and just generally feeling hopeless. This time, though, I decided to forgive myself and give it one more try. I had made feeble attempts at beginning an outreach via my other blog before, but I always stopped. So, I decided to try one last time to make a difference for myself and for others who struggle with SI. This time, I put my heart and soul into it. This time, I confessed my struggles to people, shared the blog address, and begged them to share it with those in need of it. Now, thanks to really throwing my whole self into recovery and outreach, I haven't thought about injuring myself in at least twenty four hours, and I'm watching my blog views, followers, questions, and comments increase at astounding rates.

None of this would be possible without my putting the blade down and deciding to give recovery one more try. Initially, it was a second by second decision, but now it's stretched into days, and I feel certain that it will continue to improve. Now, I am free. I don't mean that I'll never struggle again, but that I now know how I'll deal with the struggle when it comes. (More on that later, hopefully.)

So, please, give it one more month, one more week, one more day, one more hour, one more second. Please. You never know when "one more time" will catapult you into freedom.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Relationships & SI

I've done no formal research, but based on my own experiences and my conversations with fellow self-injurers, it seems that there is a strong link between relationships and self-injury, both positive and negative. Those of us who self-injure seem to tend to define ourselves by our relationships. If someone tells us we are ugly, we believe them. If someone we expected to help us out ignores the wounds they clearly see, we assume we are invisible. But it's not true. And lest you think I say that lightly, let me tell you a little story.

The initial trigger for my self-injury was a boyfriend who seemed distant at best. When I started self-injuring, he didn't notice the bruises or cuts, or said nothing if he did. The self-injury continued through our engagement and marriage. He still said nothing. About four years into our marriage, I was diagnosed with depression, and I sat him down and talked to him about my depression and self-injury. I asked him to keep me accountable, to simply ask how I was doing with the SI and to ask if he saw suspicious injuries. He never has. Not once. The man who is supposed to care the most refuses to even acknowledge the cuts and burns he saw on my arm yesterday.

Depressing, right? Except it's not anymore. I've come to the conclusion that who I am married to says nothing about who I am or what I am worth. Yes, I chose him, so it says something about who I was when I married him, about what I wanted back then, but the way he reacts (or doesn't) to my SI issues does not mean anything about me. Rather, it says something about him. He is, for some reason, incapable of dealing with these issues. And I can't blame him. SI is scary stuff.

So, here's the thing. How your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, family, friends, acquaintances, classmates, teachers, coworkers, or anyone else reacts to you does not indicate your worth. That being said, surround yourself with people who do reflect your worth. My husband may unintentionally convey to me that I am not worth his time, but I choose friends who do care and make the time to help me without getting annoyed or overwhelmed.

Find yourself one person who will always react positively. Message me here if you need it to be me, though I encourage you to find someone you can meet face to face. Find someone like this: One of my friends is actually a former drug addict, which has been helpful. He understands how hard it is to give up an addiction. And when I relapsed a couple days ago, his response was "Time to start again. Forgive yourself and move on."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Who I Am

I write to you today covered in both recent wounds and faded scars, married to a man I have no feelings for, but I have hope. How? I couldn’t stand here on my own. On my own power, I’d be dead. (Stick with me - this will be explained in more detail in later posts.)

I wish my life wasn’t this way, but if it wasn’t this way, I couldn’t do what I’m doing. I couldn't try to reach out and help people like me, struggling with depression and numerous other mental health issues. I couldn't try to give people someone to talk to and uplifting posts from someone who really struggles.

And, eventually, even if it takes the rest of my life, I’ll see something good in this life. For now, it’s enough to know that my wounds, both fresh and faded, don’t define me. Jesus’s wounds define me. I am not perfect. I am not always happy. But I am His, and He will not let my pain be for nothing.