Fighting self harm and dealing with my demons (TW: Self-injury terms)
On a quest for complete self love, self-confidence, and internal peace…relapsing into a depression, even if just for a moment, is the most disappointing thing for a survivor.
I’ve experienced so many days during the last 11 months of my transition in a very zombie-like state, where I’ve had to completely shut myself off from my emotions to avoid diving into the depths of the self-harm itch. As an empowerment speaker who suffers from Major Depressive Disorder and Gender Identity Disorder, I’m constantly having to keep myself in check for suicide and self-harm tendencies. Everyday stressors do not make this an easy task.
When I feel weak and want to use self-harm practices to distract myself from the emotional stress and internal pain I’m dealing with, I remind myself of these three key things:
1) I’m working so hard to transition my body, and harming myself is a direct attack on the progress I’ve made thus far.
2) Feeling the self-harm itch is not the failure. Giving in to the desire is the failure.
3) Facing my emotions and taking the time to sort through them is where healing takes place. Harming myself only creates a constant pressure ache and visible reminder of the stress and pain I’m facing at this time.
As trans* individuals, we work so hard to build our outer appearance to bring balance to our spirit. One of the most detrimental behaviors for a trans* person are self-harm behaviors. When you are spending a major period of your life developing and perfecting your shell, and at the same time purposely breaking it down through cutting, burning, picking, etc. to mask emotional instability and depression (outward anger turned inward), there is major imbalance that can never be corrected as long as the self-harm continues.
Personally, I can go weeks and months at a time without dealing with the self-harm itch. Even in times of extreme depression, I am now in a place mentally where I can take time for self-care, which means purposefully processing through the pain via journaling or talking it out with a friend.
This week was extremely challenging for me. Stress, worry, fear, and feelings of defeat brought the self-harm itch back around after over a year of not cutting myself. I was immediately ashamed because I thought I was above and beyond that place of wanting to harm myself. Whether I did or did not give in to the habit is not what’s important, rather being able to be transparent, accountable, and open to reflecting and growing IS what’s important.
I am no less of a man, no less of a human being for struggling with self-harm habits. I understand that breaking this habit is going to take just as much time as it took developing the habit. I trust myself to continue growing and challenging this habit by speaking openly about it when I’m faced with the stressors that challenge my personal safety.
What I want my WHT readers to take away from this particular post is that being transgender is not a weakness. Understanding the added stress and bondage that comes from dealing with people regarding your gender identity will help keep self-harm behaviors in check. Knowing when to step away and deal with your issues rather than pushing them aside and allowing them to stir is the key. The itch always returns when you’ve neglected to keep prevalent areas of your life well-nourished with positivity, free-flowing thought, and continual processing.
Our transitions are too sacred, too revolutionary to sabotage ourselves with self-harm. We face oppression and pain from all sides and are just now learning to truly process through and rise above by staying mentally, emotionally, and spiritually sound within ourselves.
Let us continue to grow and shift from the life of victimhood that has been bestowed upon us in hatred. Let us love ourselves to LIFE.
In love and light,