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11/09/2011 06:02 PM

Self-Injury later in life and the recovery process

tiff0089
tiff0089Posts: 220
Member

Hello all!

I had a question about recovery from self-injury and how late in life people continue to self-injure. Many books and online articles I read tend to classify self-injury as something only teens or those in their very early twenties struggle with. Nothing much is mentioned about older adults who struggle with SI, and I have found nothing on the recovery process of those who used to SI. I myself am 27 years old, have not cut in almost four years, but still have very powerful urges to cut. I know this sounds negative and pessimistic and I do appologize, but it is my thought that this is an urge I will always have to fight against to some extent throughout my lifetime. What are your thoughts on this?

I realize this post is a little convoluted, hopefully I can simplify what I am trying to ask: basically I want to know if people in their 40s and 50s self-injure. I also want to know what the recovery process is for those who used to self-injure. Like I said, I have gone almost four years and it is still something I have to talk myself out of doing.

Hopefully I've made some sense here. Thank you guys so much for your support and insight. This website is a big reason why I have been able to refrain from cutting for as long as I have, and has been a great resource in helping me understand my self-injurious behaviors.

You all are absolutely wonderful Smile Smile Smile

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11/09/2011 10:22 PM
Torres15
Torres15  
Posts: 5085
VIP Member

I am in my late 30s. In high school I used earings and cheese slicer to try to SI. Then for a long time I was depressed but didn't SI. Then I went to biting and pinching. I found this group after using scissors. And I haven't SI'd since.

But to answer your question, I don't know. I don't think there is a limit, or a magical age when you suddenly stop being tempted.

**had to edit triggering content**

Post edited by: peasha, at: 11/13/2011 05:34 AM


11/13/2011 05:58 AM
peasha
peasha  
Posts: 1374
VIP Member

The recovery process is always going to be the same no matter what age it is that we are because we are all trying to recover from the same stuff. We all have urges, wants, dreams, stress, guilt, shame, horror, and a number of other feelings that are associated with SI. So no matter what age we are we deal with the same topics, feelings, and urges which makes us equally likely to have trouble as the years go on. I feel that bieng older is harder because we are supposed to "know better" and have the wisdom to control ourselves. This is why I feel that having a support group is sooo important to our recovery process. Without support we tend to fall off of the wagon over and over again. So don't pay attention to the statistics say about whos most prone to this behavior. What is "most" common isn't necessarily mean anything other than the older we are doesn't change how our urges and come and go just how well we have learned to deal with them and control them. I am personally 28 and everything is just the same and I know that I will have to deal with them the same way as time goes on. Not sure if that answers your question or not but thats my best way of describing what I was feelings on the matter.

11/15/2011 02:08 PM
tiff0089
tiff0089Posts: 220
Member

Torres and Peasha: Thank you very much for your responses. They really helped me a lot!

I do receive a lot of heavy criticism for being my age and still having urges. It is really hard when I have an urge to SI and I have to try to fight through it myself without anyone to talk to about it. I tried talking to my boyfriend about it once, and I will never do that again. He did not see SI as a real problem, only something that high-school emo kids did to get attention. It hurt me to find out he felt this way, and since then I have not been able to confide in him.

I guess SI beyond teenage years is something that most people simply do not talk about or acknowledge. I hate feeling so alone with this problem and I am bitter that I cannot talk openly about it or admit to past SI because it is commonly veiwed as a silly adolescent problem. SI is still so very taboo and it saddens me that so many of us have to hide and suffer in silence.

I guess this post did not really have much to do with anything, just venting. Maybe this is something I will always struggle with and maybe the next step in my recovery is acceptance. I have had almost four years without SI and I should be proud, not self-depreciating. I should not dimish my efforts simply because a great many people view SI as something only teens deal with. I still deal with it, and I will continue to be victorious in my fight Smile


11/16/2011 10:46 PM
peasha
peasha  
Posts: 1374
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I get so tired of hearing people refer to it as bieng an "emo kid" or "high-school kid" problem because people don't realize that the problem is an addiction not adolesent behavior. Its just like when someone starts smoking as a kid they are more likely to do that into adulthood. Maybe the next time you tell a significant other or family member about it you can use the addiction approach because thats what it is.

For me I tell everyone that I am a self-injury addict and I have been recovering for over 4yrs now. When they ask what that means I am honost and just tell them that I am a cutter but havn't done anything for 4yrs and when they don't understand I let them know that it is like any other persons addiction to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs only for me its SI.


11/17/2011 07:34 AM
AsianGoddess

It is sad that people who don't understand addiction can be the most judgemental and simple-minded regarding this issue.

The problem with addiction is that we keep it a secret. Maybe that is why there are not much information on adults because people don't come forward and admit they have a problem. And it is easy not to see something when you don't want to see it or when you're simply not looking for it. It's easy for a parent to keep a watch on their children, responsible parents tend to overdo that. But most adults don't watch over other adults as vigilant and as a good unless someone comes forward asking for accountability.

As an adult, my partner and my therapist are my accountability partners. They ask me about my SI habits and I gave them permission to check up on me like literally look for proof. That was a big deterrent for me because it was embarassing to be caught with my hand in the cookie jar and it hurt to see their disappoinment and hurt in their eyes.

I also made a decision to stop hurting myself and others with words or with my hands. As long as as I remove SI and anorexia as an option to deal with my pain or problems, I force myself to deal with my issues in other healthier ways.

I also continue to monitor my thoughts and dispel distorted thinking. I manage my emotions and make a commitment to think before I say anything or do anything.

I also continue to pursue positive outlets, hobbies, interests and activities in my life. I make it a point to surround myself with positive and uplifting people who teach me to love myself unconditionally and support me 100%. It is surprising how you can change the way you see yourself when you start to see yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you very much.


11/17/2011 10:44 AM
tiff0089
tiff0089Posts: 220
Member

Thanks Peasha and Asain Goddess Smile Peasha- that is a very good point. SI is like an addiction. People who give up smoking still get urges to smoke even after quiting for several years. Just like ex-smokers, I get the urge to SI from time to time, some days beign worse than others. I think people have a problem accepting SI as having addicting qualities because they cannot wrap their minds around how something like that could possibly be addicting. They can understand how cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs may be addicting but not how someone could be addicted to inflicted harm on himself or herself. I know it should not concern myself with whether people understand and accept me or not. It hurts, especially when I cannot find comfort in friends and family members, but their closed mindedness or fear or whatever keeps them from understanding should not bring me down. Besides, I know I can always come here and vent whenever the outside world is unable to or won't listen to me Smile

Asain Goddess: Thank you for sharing the positivity Smile It's very contagious Laughing I agree that it is amazing how much you can change yourself by looking through the eyes of someone who cares about you. I am glad that you are choosing to pursue hobbies and other things that make you feel good about yourself. That has also been my course of action for the last several years and it seems to have been helping! I want to thank both you and Peasha for talking about your recovery processes. I think in the stage that we're all at, these types of exchanges are really helpful in continuing our recovery. Sometimes, recovery can be just as lonely as going through the problem itself. You both show admirable strength, insight, optimism, and determination SmileThanks again!


11/21/2011 07:59 PM
AsianGoddess

Some days - it's really good! Some days - not so much. It's taken a quite a number of years of literally fighting for my own life, sanity and good health to be where I'm at today. Thank you, your post encouraged me today. I really appreciate your kind words.

Lately, I've been thinking that anxiety fuels my SI more than depression. The more anxious I feel, because of some distorted thought or another, the more compulsive SI becomes for me. For awhile, I exchanged SI self-soothing behavior for a less destructive self-soothing behavior that I have done longer as a young child. I would roll paper and somehow, it would distract me and calm me down enough to use the energy that fueled my anxiety into creative outlets.

Today, I began to think, "what if?" Can I consider the thought of dealing with my anxiety instead of distracting myself with self-soothing behaviors? It seems like I use one self-soothing behavior just to replace/avoid another self-soothing behavior. Hmmm..anyway, just a thought!


11/22/2011 01:11 PM
tiff0089
tiff0089Posts: 220
Member

I understand. Some days are definately easier than others!! And your more than welcome. I'm glad I could help!

I find that anxiety is a big trigger for me too, as well as anger. I am actually a very angry person. It always disturbs me to find out how much anger I still have. It has a way of sneaking up on me too when I least expect it! I need to find ways to address and deal with my anger. Even if my anger is not causing me to lash out on others, it is still destroying me internally, and causing me to be unkind to myself.

It is hard to address our negative emotions, whether it be anxiety or anger. It's easier to distract ourselves from them. Is it a bad thing though to put our anxieties and anger on the back burner until we are at a more manageable place to deal with them? How can you tell when you should be addressing your anxiety versus finding a distraction from it? I feel like the same could apply to my anger. I know I need to deal with it, but sometimes I feel like dealing with it in its entirity would cause me to become really self-destructive. So I guess what I'm trying to ask is, how to we face our negative emotions in a safe and healthy way?


11/22/2011 06:40 PM
stand2endure
stand2endure  
Posts: 369
VIP Member
I'm an Advocate

I just turned 45 yesterday and I can say the urges do stop. I self harmed for years then stopped for years. I don't have urges like I use to when I was younger. I find myself doing things when I am nervous like biting my nails or picking but it is more a nervous habit when I worry, get upset about something. etc. But I have not purposely self harmed in years. I know the more I allow myself to feel the less I hurt myself.

s2e Smile

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