There is Always a Choice

TW: self-harm and suicide

I wrote this in my hospital journal towards the end of my stay. A few days ago, I published a post about self-compassion. The two seem to go together, in my mind.

drawing of landscape with tree and river and words about self-compassionThere is always a choice. Two therapists have told me this independently. It took a little while for the meaning to sink in after the first therapist said it. I had gone a few weeks without self-harm at that point, and I still felt utterly controlled by it. The question of whether to do it or not didn’t seem like a choice; it seemed like an inevitability. Over time, the less trapped by it I felt, and the more sense that statement made. Although the choice of whether to self-harm might have been stacked in favor of doing it, the choice to take steps to change that was still mine.

I relapsed and eventually ended up here, in the hospital. On the surface, I’m likely to view all of that as a failure. However, I didn’t make the wrong choice. I experienced the symptoms of wanting to self-harm and having suicidal thoughts. I made the choice to be honest and to go to the hospital. I’m making choices every day to participate in groups and to work towards stability.

Was cutting a choice? Yes, but it’s about more than that. It’s about larger choices. When my disorder makes resisting those urges and thoughts too difficult, agency over my life as a whole is still mine. I can decide to work towards taking back control in all areas, however slowly I have to do that. It’s about the choices I make to be honest with my loved ones, to go to therapy, and to take my medication, that will affect my recovery from an illness that makes me want to hurt myself, that makes me want to disappear, that tells me that I don’t matter.

I do matter. I choose to work towards self-love.

There is always a choice.


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