This blog post is a long time coming. I relapsed a couple of weeks ago which isn’t ideal… I felt like I was doing well then BAM out of seemingly nowhere I self-harmed.
I was out with my old school friends over Easter for my birthday. I was so excited because we hadn’t been out together since before my first admission into hospital, over a year ago. I have to admit I had already drunk a bottle of wine and done a few tequila shots (it was my birthday!) before we’d left so I was drunk, which I know now is one of my vulnerability factors. It was a very stressful night that led up to my eventual self-harm. Firstly, one of my friends was refused entry to the club, by a rather aggressive bouncer, and instead of turning to leave what ensued was a very blown out of proportion argument over how ‘she’s not that drunk’ and demanding we be let in. This all resulted in my friends being pushed by the bouncer and (massively overreacting) my friend decided to call 999 and asked the police to come down as she had ‘just been assaulted by a bouncer’ outside the club.
During all of this drama I started to externally shut down, I was standing very still not speaking, but internally my mind was going crazy. I was getting so worked up and anxious about the whole situation; the arguing, the pushing and potentially the police turning up. To be honest, right then, I had the urge to jump of the multi-storey car park opposite – thank god I didn’t. But I did drunk call my therapist (which was fun to explain), smashed some glass in the bar we returned to and used it to cut my arm and leg. My friends were understandably upset, Amy* decided to call her dad to pick us up then went home rather than stay at my house as previously planned.
We didn’t really talk about it until I met one of my friends a week later and bluntly asked if they were angry with me. She explained that they were upset but also they were angry with what I had done. I understood up until that point. If I had relapsed due to stress with a physical problem they wouldn’t have been angry with me so why was this different? It must have been hard for them to deal with but I felt like I had no control over it, I felt compelled to hurt myself. So, I’m trying to take a step back and not be upset with their anger but try to rationalise it. How can somebody who has never been in that position of wanting to self-harm/commit suicide actually comprehend what it’s like being in that position? They can’t. It’s really that simple. So, rather than feeling offended or hurt at their anger, I have to reassure myself that they simply CAN’T understand it therefore have no idea what was going through my head and why I needed to self-harm. Don’t get me wrong, my friend have been amazingly supportive the last year and visited me in hospital etc, it’s just the understanding of my mental health that has put a bit of distance between us, even before this night.
That’s my friends dealt with, but then how did I feel about myself after the event? Of course after over 4 months self-harm free I was gutted to have lost my ‘streak’. I felt ashamed, sad and hopeless all at once. I’d let myself down. However, after a few days I was able to talk it through with my ‘mental friends’ – the super supportive lot I met in hospital, they reasoned with me that the thought I was back to square one wasn’t true. Yes, I had to start my ‘no self-harm streak’ from zero but I was still mentally in a better place. 4 months ago I would’ve thought ‘fuck this, I’ve failed, I may as well give up’. But I haven’t. I’ve talked it through with my therapist (after explaining the drunken voicemail, oops) and friends and realised I can keep going. The best way forward is for me to not give up, and next time aim for 5 months self-harm free, then 6, then 7, then who knows, maybe even forever?
I think the key thing that I’m trying to get across is how important it is to keep going. Yes, life can get rough, recovery isn’t straight forwards, and shit is bound to happen to knock you down. But what really counts is that you get back up again. You keep going – even though I know sometimes it feels totally impossible – you ask for help when you need it and I guess just try your best. As my Mum says, that’s all anybody can ask for. So remember, it might not feel like it but YOU’VE GOT THIS.