Hello, my name is Jasmine. I am 24 years old. If you know me or have read anything I’ve written previously, you know that I have Tourette Syndrome. However, there are a few things about me you may not know.
For example, I have fought a battle for much of my life that a lot of people fight. Like others who fight, I have always fought in private. It is not a battle against others. I have defended against darkness, hopelessness and ultimately myself. Now, I am taking big steps to fight offensively, not defensively. I am not telling you all this for sympathy or for pity. I am simply sharing my story because I know how it feels to wish you weren’t alone. I know that it helps to know that someone out there understands what you are going through. Part of being human is having flaws and faults.
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the age of 18. The fear I felt at having a mental illness was almost as intense as the fear that it would never end. There is so much stigma in the world around us about mental illness. It’s sad, really. I find it sad that people create such stigma. It is such a negative thing.
Not only does it create misunderstanding, but it makes those who already feel so alone in the world feel even more isolated than they did in the first place. It keeps those who truly need help from seeking it out because they are afraid of what people will think of them. We become afraid of being judged and looked at differently. Sadly, that does happen … and it’s because of the stigma. Stigma is why a lot of people, such as myself, suffer in silence for far too long.
I suffered in silence until I absolutely had to find a means of escape. I searched desperately for a way to numb the pain I felt on the inside, so I created a pain I knew the source of and could control of on the outside. That is where self-injury entered the scene. Contrary to the stigma, it was never about attention. It was never an attempt to do permanent damage such as suicide.
In fact, it was something I desperately hid from everyone around me, from all those whom I loved. It was a way to cope so that I could stay alive. Even though it was only a temporary relief, it became an addiction that I couldn’t control and didn’t know how to quit.
In desperation, we never think of the consequences until it becomes too late. It was only after I came to find I didn’t know how to stop hurting myself that I thought of what was going to happen if I didn’t. I had ugly wounds and scars. Not only did they look bad, but they itched like crazy. There are some scars that will never heal or fade, I’m sure. The scars on the outside were never as bad as those on the inside, though.
I only got help when my parents found out what I was doing. I was lying, hiding and pushing everyone away. I pushed them all away during the time when I needed them the most. I was afraid to let my parents hug me for fear they would feel bandages. I couldn’t wear anything except long sleeves for fear that someone would see.
I visited doctors, counselors and therapists, all who tried to help me figure out how to stop. I was scared and was afraid that none of them would be able to help me. So, I never kept my appointments for long. I tried to stop on my own, but always replaced the self-injury with other things. I abused my prescriptions so I could sleep through the day. I thought that if I was sleeping, I wasn’t feeling, so I wasn’t hurting myself. This became more noticeable and I realized the dangers of it doing permanent damage and became afraid of an accidental overdose, so I started self-harming again.
I tried to stop another time and replaced it with starving myself. I felt so ugly on the inside that I thought I could starve myself and make myself look better on the outside. Inevitably, this became more noticeable and questions began flying at me from all sides about this, so I took to my original vise once again.
I was threatened inpatient treatment on a couple of occasions. I knew that I couldn’t stop on my own. I knew I needed help, but I was terrified of being inpatient. The fear was one that was drilled into my head by the stigma around mental illness. I realize now that it wouldn’t have been the worst thing that could have happened. It may have been something to start my recovery sooner. The fear to go inpatient did give me the push to start keeping appointments, though.
I don’t know how to explain any of this to anyone who has never been there themselves. It is hard to explain something to someone who has never experienced it themselves.
I did develop a support system. There are many people in my life who made some very hard decisions. It may have been uncomfortable to listen to my rants, but I thank every one of you who ever let me cry on your shoulders. There were many texts and phone calls late at night, and sometimes even at two or three o’clock in the morning. There were people who made the decision to inform others of things I said to them in confidence.
I was upset for a while, and in some cases there was bitterness and hatred at first, but I thank you for doing the right thing. There are many people who played a part in my recovery. In fact, every last person in my life played some part. No matter if that part was big or small, it was enormously important either way. Certain people made gestures just to make me feel accepted, loved and supported. You believe these small acts were insignificant, but in reality those are the things that helped save my life.
It helped the most just to know that I wasn’t alone. I was never the only person in the world going through what I was going through. There were so many people who opened up about their own struggles to help me through what I was struggling with. I realized that there were so many other people in my life who had dealt with the same problems I was fighting against.
We were all fighting the same battle. It was not only a battle against our illnesses and the darkness inside of us, but a battle against ourselves. We were all learning alongside each other how to love not only each other, but how to love ourselves again. We learned together how to trust in God again and give it all over to Him. To these people, I extend the biggest thanks, for those were the ones who made small gestures just to help me feel that I wasn’t alone. I believe that made the biggest impact on my recovery. That is why I am now telling my own story so publicly now.
I believe that everything that happens in our life, even if it is something that may have been avoided, can be used for good. Every negative can become a positive. We can use our stories and struggles to help someone else who might be struggling, even just by telling our story and letting them know that there are others out there who are going through the same things. We all need to know that we are not alone.
Honestly, I believe that recovery is an ongoing thing. It never ends. Recovery is about learning and strengthening healing. We never stop learning. We can always become stronger. We will always be able to heal our hurts, which come repeatedly in life. We are human. We all make mistakes. I know that I will fall down. I will make mistakes. I may slip in the future, scrap my knee, so to speak. I don’t have to stay down, though. I get back up and keep marching and fighting on the offensive in this journey of recovery and finding myself.
And I pray that God would use me as a tool in someone else’s journey and recovery as well.
My name is Jasmine.
I am not perfect.
I have Tourette Syndrome and OCD.
I fight a daily struggle against depression and anxiety.
I am a recovering self-injurer.
I am human.
I am a child of God.
My name is Jasmine,
and I am thankful for all these things listed.