All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…

30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge: Day 04

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The fourth day of the 30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge asks
Do you consider yourself “addicted”? Why or why not?

The first ever post I wrote about self-harm – (Some) True Confessions of a Self-Harmer [2007] – discussed my own personal belief that self-harm is an addictive behaviour.

Even though burning myself with that stick hurt like nothing else, I’ve still burned myself since. Even though I couldn’t sit down for a week, I’ve still whipped myself again. Even though I bled all over my school books, I still stabbed myself with a pencil again.

Like any form of addiction – gambling, drugs, smoking, chocolate, porn – you simply have to do it again, only with every new time you do it, it has to be bigger in order for you to receive the same “hit”. Cutting yourself once will do the trick, but sooner or later you find you need to cut yourself dozens of times to receive the same fix. This is where the problem hits, because sooner or later you’re slicing a pound of flesh from your arm and not even feeling it.

~ from (Some) True Confessions of a Self-Harmer [2007]

Ever since I was a late-teenager I’ve considered myself to be addicted to self-harm. On all the occasions that I have tried to stop self-harming I’ve had to deal with the same withdrawal and cravings that usually come with someone giving up cigarettes, drugs or coffee. I’ve also had to deal with the same relapses that often plague someone giving up these most addictive of substances.

Yesterday, I admitted that I am currently self-harming on a daily basis. This is primarily because I have decided I ‘need’ to self-harm in order to survive each day, in much the same way that I feel I ‘need’ cigarettes to get through each day. My body doesn’t need any of the harmful substances I inhale when I smoke, nor does my body need the daily dose of pain it receives from my knife, but it receives it all the same. Not because I’m weak or traumatized, but because I have (once again) become addicted to the emotional release I receive from self-harming.

Only by understanding what self-harm is to me (an addiction) do I stand any chance of controlling this behaviour in the future. And like any addiction, giving it up is plagued with unique and dangerous difficulties.

But I will get there, one day.

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