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Relapses happen, it's true.

 

A relapse doesn't take away or negate the time that you had that was free from self harm.

 

Relapses are good opportunities to look at our support systems and coping strategies and figure out where they need some shoring up.

 

Self harm is a coping strategy. We don't do it if it doesn't help, even a bit and even though it causes more problems than it solves in the long run.

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Same age range as you, Mr Yuk and I just had a bout recently. I was "relieved" to see a thread in the forum recently for adults who SI. It made me reconsider SI as a coping mechanism that affects people of any age. I'm guessing that yes, if we don't come up with effective coping mechanisms, than we're going to be vulnerable to relapses.

 

During treatment for ED I was repeatedly told that relapses are part of a cycle - sort of a two steps forward, one step back process. I don't know if that's true or not, but I took it to mean that I could pick myself up and dust myself off instead of nurturing those behaviors. 

 

In the meantime, consider not beating yourself up for it. For me, beating myself up always makes me feel worse and I become more likely to hurt myself.

Again, that could just be my experience, but hopefully it helps.

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There is a perception that self harm is a young people thing or that adults ought to have a better ability to cope.

 

This is a myth. Pain is pain, at any age. Plenty of people use self harm, it goes on irrespective of age, gender, ethnic group, religion. If you are still struggling, then that must be really tough, from your sig you have a lot to deal with. But we all start life with gaps in our abilities to deal with pain, there is no magic age at which you have to have figured all this out and be perfect. If you are still trying to deal with life without self harm, then all credit to you. That takes strength.

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Its like an addiction. Once an addict always an addict. Doesnt mean you have to still use or practice these methods it just means its always there and you are more susceptible to it. This knows no age oe gender. I had a lot of trouble when the term "emo" became a laugh and cutting was the butt end of most jokes.

You had long periods when you didnt they will come again. You didnt for ten years thats pretty solid. Did you push it aside in a healthy way or another destructive way. Are you ready to deal with why? Sometimes asking these questions can open up a new can of worms. Be prepared just because you fall doesnt mean you cant get up again. As corny and cruddy advice as it sounds a therapist is awesome its a good start being here and talking to others a great medium where you dont have to feel judged.

You can do this. We are here for you

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Self-harm is a coping skill, so if you don't learn different ones, then yeah, it's entirely conceivable that you'll end up dealing with it "in the nursing home," as you put it.

It is possible to get to a place where you don't have to rely on it, however. What has worked for me has been a twofold approach: first I work on spotting the gaps in my coping skills that self-harm fills. That has been a surprisingly more involved process than I initially thought. Then, I try to cultivate other, healthier ways of thinking until they are equally reflexive. I also have stopgap methods to help myself when I do get stuck in the moment. Distraction works particularly well for me.

I realize that's generic, but self-harm is individual, and can fill different roles for different people. Thus, your eventual progress will look different from mine in its details.

Slips happen, and so do relapses. This is more than just a behavior; it's a habit, and a pattern of thinking. It takes time and patience to learn to think differently, and yeah, the knowledge that self-harm is there, and works, doesn't ever evaporate completely. It's a matter of giving yourself preferable methods to achieve the sane results, or better.

There are a lot of distractions here, and you're always welcome to come hang out on the "I Wanted" thread pinned here.

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