You can’t start a new chapter if you keep rereading the last.
As a child, I was horrible at spelling. My parents told me that I would be better at spelling if I read more, because reading would increase my vocabulary. We were encouraged to read everyday, and for the most part we did. I would read Junie B Jones, The Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley High, Nancy Drew, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes… My love of reading grew with each book and is still growing today. Unfortunately I’m still horrible at spelling, but at least I have a killer book collection.
If you looked at my bookshelf, you’d see a wide selection. There are school books, books I purchased, books I’ve borrowed, and books I was given. There are books I’ve read for pleasure, books I’ve read for enlightenment and books I’ve read to gain knowledge. I have classics, awarding-winning novels, biographies, journals, mysteries, essays, short-stories, locally published, self-help, the list goes on.. I don’t only read books of one genre or subject, I read anything and everything. Reading different types of books allows you to explore different parts of the world and different parts of yourself. I think that’s why I love reading so much, you can travel the world and travel through time, you can escape.
One of my most difficult years with depression also happened to be the year I read 50 books. I read to escape my reality. I hated myself, so putting myself in someone else’s shoes, was a relief. I got to forget about who I was for a little while and be someone different. Looking back, I am so thankful I was able to find this escape in reading, and didn’t have to resort to alcohol, or drugs, which would have been so easy. That being said, reading wasn’t my only form of relief.
In 2013, whether it was due to depression or the medication, I don’t know, but I started to feel completely numb. No, I didn’t “feel” numb, I wasn’t feeling anything, I was numb. My emotions were muted, I didn’t know what was happening. All this anxiety and depression was crashing down on me, but I didn’t feel sad, or angry, or frustrated. I wasn’t living, I didn’t even know if I was actually even alive somedays.I needed something to make me feel something, anything. I needed something to help me realize I was still here. I turned to self-harm.
I started cutting myself. I could see the blade in my hand, running across my leg, slicing my skin, but I still couldn’t feel it. The blood was what brought me back to life. Seeing the blood pooling and running down my body making little red trails is what reminded me I was alive. If I could still bleed, I was still here.
It started out innocent, one cut was enough. But thats the thing with addiction, eventually you need more, you keep needing more. I needed to see more blood, I needed to see it spill out over the cut, I needed to see my leg covered in red. I moved to different parts of my body, started trying different techniques. I was obsessed. I won’t get too far into things, but what happened was I ended up not just battling depression but always addiction.
This continued for almost 2 for years. I’d try and stop, I’d go days, sometimes months, without even thinking about cutting, but then I’d slip back into my old ways. However, on May 12th, 2015, I stopped and haven’t looked back. I was finally finished with that part of my life. That’s not to say I don’t think about cutting these days, it’s just now those thoughts are fewer and less frequent. Even when I do think of cutting now, I can redirect my thoughts to something else, like reading, or writing.
For the past few years of my life I’ve been embarrassed of the scars on my body. I was terrified that someone would see them and think less of me, or judge me. I wore long sleeves and would never wear shorts, regardless of the heat. Now however, things are a little different. I’m not embarrassed of my scars, I’m proud of them. They show that I fought through the sadness. They’re battle scars, they show that I survived.
So here we are today, exactly one year later. One whole year and zero self-harm. I never knew if I would ever get here, somedays I didn’t even want to live another full year, but I did. I did it.
They say life is a story, but if you keep re-reading the same chapter you’ll never start the next. I’ve turned the page, finished the book and now I’m writing my own.