Brighton Recovery posted an incredible and true story today of a an inspiring woman who spent over a decade addicted to self harm. She also struggled with codependency and drug addiction. After years of battle, she was able to find recovery and now helps others do the same through recreational therapy.
Quotes from: "Addicted to Pain and People"
"I had never seen or heard of anyone self harming, but it became my first addiction at the age of 13. I remember the first time I made the decision to do it, not knowing where I got the idea from. I had learned at a young age that I shouldn’t cry, yet I had all of this pain built up inside of me. I got to the point where I didn’t want to live anymore, but I also didn’t know how to die. Cutting became a way for me to release the pain. I couldn’t control my emotional pain, but I could control the physical pain. The moment I pressed a dull multi-tool blade against my skin, I became instantly addicted to pain.
The self harm was never about attention. I didn’t want anyone to know I was cutting, but because I was doing it on my arms, one of my peers noticed during gym class one afternoon and told the school counselor. As if the rumors from the trip weren’t enough, now I was some crazy attention-seeker cutting herself. I remember coming home from school one day and my mother was sitting in the living room crying. All she said was, “Why would you do this?” She didn’t even ask if I was okay, or try to talk to me about what was going on. Being addicted to pain became a way for me to survive. It was the only tool I had. Releasing the pain"
The story continues to talk about her childhood but eventually her life turns to sex and drugs as she moves to young adult and adult life.
"I walked into the treatment center thinking that I’d be out of there in three months because I knew what therapists wanted to hear and how to work the system. I made a good friend name Emily and we worked our way through the program, quickly becoming two of the leaders in the house. This awarded us extra responsibilities and privileges. We’d do all sorts of sneaky things to rebel against the program. We’d huff nail polish remover, one time we tried to smoke incense, we even drank toner. All of these were horrible ideas, of course, but we just wanted to get fucked up by any means. I was still addicted to pain and the self-harming continued, too. About 4 months into the program Emily and I made a plan to run. Of course, we failed in our attempt, which lead me into a deep depression.
We were both placed on “safety,” so we had to be with a staff member at all times. I was also placed on suicide watch, which meant I had to sleep on a mattress on the floor and wear scrubs. I didn’t have a room and all my possessions were taken away. I spent most of my time plotting my escape, whether that meant running away or killing myself. Once, I took a chance and ran down the hall to the bathroom, put my back against the door, my foot against the toilet, broke a hair clip and used it to cut my wrists repeatedly. I lost a massive amount of blood, and probably should have gotten stitches. To this day I still have scars from that hair clip. During that time in my life I found a release through journaling. I don’t recall ever writing anything inspirational. My journal was just complete chaos, but in one of the corners was a small drawing of a heart. I had that heart traced. It was my first tattoo and it sits next to my scars as a reminder."
Eventually rock climbing and recreational therapy became her outlet.
"I finally discovered at least one key to ending my addiction to people while I was in recovery, and it was simply rock climbing. It filled the void in its entirety and became the new love of my life. In the rock climbing community, I found the connection that I had craved. I didn’t have to show up and be anyone else. There were no expectations of me. All I had to do was be myself and climb, which I loved. I found that while climbing, I could live in the moment and not worry about anything else except where my next hold was. I was terrified of heights, but that just made the adrenaline rush even better. I hadn’t realized it before, but besides being addicted to pain and people, I was also addicted to the thrill of getting the drugs. More so than the drugs themselves. Rock climbing allowed me to seek that thrill in a safe setting, while also providing me with something to focus on and utilize to better myself. I began to create a life that didn’t align with my addiction. Getting high and climbing just didn’t make sense together."
To read the full story and find out all that happened to her along her journey, please go to Addicted to Pain and People.