The Winding Road Through Self-Harm Recovery

July 21, 2022 Kim Berkley

The road through self-harm recovery isn't always an easy path to walk, and it's often full of unexpected twists and detours.

Detours on the Road Through Self-Harm Recovery

When you hear the words "road through recovery," what do you picture? If you've never walked the self-harm recovery path yourself before, you might think of a straight line leading directly from where you are now to where you want to be. The road is likely paved; maybe even painted with those nifty white and yellow lines to help you stay in your lane.

In truth, it's not quite that picturesque.

The road to self-harm recovery does get easier over time. But it's not a steady upward curve, where every single day is better than the day before. Sometimes, out of nowhere, you'll have a good day, maybe even a streak of them. And you'll get your hopes up. You'll think it's over; you're done healing. You're all better now, self-harm free.

Then a bad day will hit. Maybe you'll see it coming; maybe you won't. Either way, it will hurt. It will be disappointing. It's tempting to turn that feeling of disappointment on yourself, even if you make it through that day without hurting yourself. Just feeling like you want to can be frustrating, even if you don't act on it.

These days might come days, months, or even years into your recovery. The longer you've been healing, the more surprising—and disappointing—the resurgence of these feelings can be.

And if you do relapse into self-harm, it gets even harder. You might feel like a failure. You might hate yourself for letting yourself down, for letting down your friends, or family, or your therapist. You might feel like there's no point in trying anymore, like you're never going to get better—even if your history includes years of evidence to the contrary.

But it's not true. Relapse is not failure. You are not out of options, no matter how many times you relapse. And while your self-harm journey is your own, and no one else's, the road to recovery is not one that you need to walk alone. 

Support for Your Self-Harm Recovery Journey

Just like you need supplies for a long hike, support is key for self-harm recovery.

A therapist or other mental health professional can act as your guide through this journey. The support of a doctor that's right for you is an invaluable resource for recovery; such a person can provide much-needed medical insight into your needs as well as expert assistance with identifying your best route forward.

Trusted friends and family, meanwhile, can be there for you when you need a ride home from work or school because you're too distressed to drive. A best friend that will pick up the phone and talk past midnight to keep you from hurting yourself is a keeper, as is a family member who is willing to do whatever it takes to get you the help you need when you need it—when you're ready to receive it.

And finally, you've got the people walking beside you on the road to self-harm recovery—if not on the same path, then on one that runs parallel to it. These are the people who know what the urges are like, who dream as you do of the day those urges no longer control their lives. These are the people who can empathize with you as no one else can, who have had bad days like yours but also can tell you about the good days when you need help finding the motivation to keep going. You might know someone like this personally; you might also find them in support groups, either online or in your local area.

And then there are the strangers like me, reaching out in our own ways, through blog posts and videos and art and music to remind you, as often as you need to be reminded, that you are not a hopeless case.

The bad days can get pretty bad; I won't sugarcoat that. But the good days are worth waiting for and working toward—and yes, there will be more of them. If you walk that road through recovery long enough, they will begin to outweigh the bad, first a little, then a lot.

It might seem far away now, but that future might be closer than you think. Whatever else you believe, recovery is possible. And you are not alone.

APA Reference
Kim Berkley (2022, July 21). The Winding Road Through Self-Harm Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 16 from

Author: Kim Berkley

Find Kim on Instagram, Facebook and her blog.

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