Amazing, is it not, how quickly time passes. It was one year ago that I decided self-harm would no longer be an issue, that I would stop and never do it again. And for 5 months, I kept this promise. However, this was done in my own strength without proper strategies in place and without relying on God. 5 months of willpower alone.
Just when I thought self-harm no longer had a hold on me, a powerful trigger re-entered my life and I fell into the trap of cutting once more. Clearly I was very inexperienced in the area of addiction, for I thought self-harm would no longer have a hold on me after 5 months of being clean. I have been known to rebuke and tear myself down, but not so destructively as I did after being chained to self-harm again.
From this moment onward, the snare grew ever tighter around me. 5 weeks later, I hurt myself again. Then again after 3 weeks, then 2, then 1 week. Previously I had managed to control self-harm quite well in my own strength, but the increasing frequency was disturbing. People tend to be concerned about me long before I become concerned, so if I begin worrying about myself, the issue tends to be significant.
I decided to make a concerted effort to avoid self-harm, and 1 month into this, I came across the film To Write Love on Her Arms. It follows the journey of Renee Yohe trying to get into rehab for alcohol and cocaine addiction, as well as self-harm. She needed to be clean for 5 days before she could begin the rehab programme, and the film documents her struggles and the support she was given. Each day, she would write on her mirror which day she was on. First day of being clean: day 1; then day 2, day 3 and so forth.
It was such a powerful tool that I began using it myself. Every day I record which day I am on, using a post-it note on my wall as a tally sheet. Following the suggestion of a friend, I began physically writing the number of days on the side of my arm, discreetly so that no-one would see but I would always know how much progress I had made. Recording the number of days makes time pass more slowly, but this has the benefit of making self-harm less appealing.
At the moment I am on day 171, nearly 6 months, but it feels like so much longer. Now, when self-harm tries to rear its ugly head, I stop and consider: is one short moment of pain and blood really worth undoing the days I have achieved? One small cut, and I will be back at day 1. It would mean waiting another 170 days to reach the point at which I am now, and for me it is not worthwhile.