Emily is our guest speaker. Is recovery REALLY a possibility or are self-injurers doomed to a life of misery and self mutilation? Emily is an 8th grade teacher who started self-injuring when she was 12. By the time she was a college senior, she was battling anorexia and severely injuring. The only thing that could help her was a treatment program. And it worked. Emily shares her story of pain and recovery from self-injury.
David Roberts is the HealthyPlace.com moderator.
The people in blue are audience members.
Self-Injury Conference Transcript
David: Good Evening. I'm David Roberts. I'm the moderator for tonight's conference. I want to welcome everyone to HealthyPlace.com. Our topic tonight is "Recovering From Self-Injury" and our guest is Emily J.
We've had several conferences where doctors come on and talk about recovery from self-injury. Then I get e-mails from HealthyPlace.com visitors saying that recovery is really impossible. It doesn't really happen.
Our guest, Emily, has recovered from Self-Injury. Emily started self-injuring when she was twelve. By the time she was a college senior she was battling self-injury and anorexia. She says that while she was able to recover from anorexia, recovering from self-injury proved far more difficult.
Good evening Emily. Welcome to HealthyPlace.com. Thank you for being our guest tonight. So we can find out a little bit more about you, how did your self-injury behaviors begin?
Emily J: Good Evening . I really can't remember why I started, except that I was under a lot of stress at school.
David: And how did it progress?
Emily J: Well, my injuring was not severe until my senior year in college when my fiance broke up with me. I was in a lot of pain and I was looking for anything to lessen the pain.
David: When you use the word "severe", can you quantify that for me. How often were you self-injuring?
Emily J: It started out as very, very mild injury; for example, scratching my skin. Then it got to the point where I had to go to the emergency room almost every other day.
David: At the time, did you realize that something was wrong?
Emily J: I think I knew something was wrong when I was a very little girl.
David: What did you do to try and quit?
Emily J: I did not try to quit. It was my coping mechanism. I had endured sexual abuse as a small child and never learned healthy coping strategies. I didn't decide to get help, until my therapist threatened to quit seeing me.
David: Did you find that therapy helped?
Emily J: Somewhat. I think it prepared me for when I went to the S.A.F.E. Alternatives program (Self Abuse Finally Ends) in Chicago last year. It was only after attending and completing the program that I was able to quit.
David: You mentioned entering the self injury treatment program, and I want to get to that in a few minutes. What about self-injuring made it so difficult to quit on your own?
Emily J: Like I said, it was my main coping mechanism. I wasn't able to handle my overwhelming feelings and emotions. I wasn't able to confront people or set personal boundaries. I became severely attached to authority figures, like my therapist. I liked self-injuring because it provided me with a sense of relief. Of course, that relief did not last very long at all and then I had large medical bills to deal with.
David: Here are a few audience questions, Emily:
lpickles4mee: How were you self-injuring?
Emily J: A boundary I would like to set is not to mention how I was injuring because it was graphic and I don't think that will serve any purpose for this chat on self-injury recovery. I will say that most people injure by cutting themselves.
Robin8: How did you get the courage to enter into recovery?
Emily J: My life was totally falling apart. I had lost so many relationships due to my self-injury behaviors and I almost lost my job over it. I knew I needed help because my life was one big mess. I hated myself and everything in my life and I knew the only way I could go, was up.
meagain: What was your family's reaction to your self mutilation?
Emily J: I was terrified to get help, but now I'm so glad I did. My family didn't know quite how to react. My mother got mad at me and my dad was sympathetic but didn't understand. I couldn't talk to my sister about it. I think my sister basically thought I was crazy and my parents didn't know what to do or how to help me. As they learned more about self-injury, self-mutilation, I was very fortunate to have a very supportive family.