*trigger warning – self-harm*

I thought only teenagers did it. But here I was sitting on the floor of my room at 38-years-old with a scissor in my hands. A grown adult. The first time I drew blood was this past January. I was ashamed right after I performed the act. How could I do this?! I am a high functioning person… a wife… a mother. I had a full-time job where I was respected. Why? The why started earlier that day. My husband had expressed his feelings toward our failed attempt at adopting our former foster son… 4 years later. I had gone through EMDR therapy to reprocess this event as I had developed mild PTSD from it. Now I get hit with this. I should have been okay, I mean I was doing okay before this, but something happened within my brain when he said he was angry with me. I stared at my husband with compassion in my heart, wanting to cry because I hurt him, but I couldn’t. I did tell him he was and is entitled to feel this way, I just wish he told me 2-3 years ago.

I had mentioned my lack of expressing emotions to my psychiatrist prior to this event. But at the time, my medications were keeping me stable and I was content with my life. This event with my husband was the thing that broke me. I was now angry and annoyed that I could not cry. Four years on Lexapro… this medication is one of my saviors from my last episode of major depressive disorder but also the source to me feeling non-human, like a robot. Now, I cannot feel anything. I am so numb and appear to not care when I have always been a very compassionate and empathetic person.

This angered me so much, I wanted to do anything that would make me feel something, that would make me know I was a human being.

So, I cut myself. I cut myself to feel pain and to see blood. This to me was and is a way for me to feel alive.

I told my husband about my self-harm a few days later. He was feeling much better after he released his emotions that day in January. I showed him. Then I sad, “I’m scared, but I made a therapist appointment.” He was the first person I told. I then expressed this to my daughter. At 12, she is at a typical age of self-harm. I wanted her to know that I was getting help and that if she ever felt the need to self-harm, she could come to me, her father or her therapist to discuss it. I’ve always been open about my mental health with her so she would never feel the stigma especially after her being diagnosed with GAD.

The next person I told was my therapist. He was wondering if I should see my psychiatrist for a medication change. I confessed to him that I was worried she would up my dosage of Lexapro which would only make this numbness worse. He said that he thought about it too. So I started out only with therapy. Until one day…

Normally, my self-harm is limited to at home when I am alone. I had given my husband the scissors in my room and all the blades I had from college (I had to build models for my architecture degree). But I still found ways. This one day, though, I cut myself at work. This scared the shit out of me. Something was wrong with me and I was very afraid of what it meant. I spoke to an online mental health friend and he said I should talk with my psychiatrist. I made an appointment.

The good news is that this is the first psychiatrist that actually listens to me. I showed her my cuts on my wrist (nowhere near any veins). I told her the whole story. And then I told her my fears if she increased my Lexapro. She listened and discussed options for me. I chose to add Wellbutrin to my daily medications.

What I’ve learned so far is that I have two reasons I self-harm… one is the need to feel human because I am so damn numb and the other is to feel pain for those I hurt or let down. While I still have days where I self-harm, they have decreased. I am working with my psychiatrist and my therapist so there is no need for any of my friends and family to be scared (that means you, Mommy). Once I can fully process why I am doing this and learn to cope in other ways, I’ll stop. I know I will. This episode of moderate depression will not ruin me. I am still the strong fighter I have always been since I was 14.

Self-harm does not mean you are suicidal. Yes, you can become suicidal from it, but in most cases it is a way to feel something, punish yourself or control something in your life. I am not suicidal nor do I have suicidal ideations. I am under the care of my psychiatrist and therapist. I am proudly medicated. I am taking care of my mental health and I have a great support system.

Stephanie Paige is a 30-something who has struggled with Persistent Depressive Disorder & Major Depressive Disorder since age 14 and Generalized Anxiety Disorder since age 34, with Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety and PTSD mixed in there. She is the mother of one beautiful preteen daughter. With the strength of her husband, parents, and her child (& 2 crazy felines), she has survived 6 bouts of Major Depression and has become a huge advocate of Mental Illness. She wants to let others know they are not alone and that is her striving force to sharing her story. She advocates through words on her blog, spaigewrites.com, Stigma Fighters & The Mighty. Recently publishing her first book, Rising From the Ashes, you can also find her contributions in Stigma Fighters Anthologies II, III, & IV.