"Do you ever come close to relapse?"

I can't tell you how many times I've started and restarted this post. The question hits right in the metaphorical gut. Eventually I just jumped on Facebook live and talked it out on-camera so I'd have a recording of everything that was running through my mind.

The short answer to this is yes. Yes I do come close to relapsing, especially on the self-harm front. More often than I'd like to admit, actually. In fact, on Saturday, World Suicide Prevention Day, I had to fight with every ounce of strength I possessed to not find a blade. I got through it. It is possible to fight relapse, and to win. So far, I'm winning, and that's the only reason I've been "clean" for nearly 2 and a half years.

Now, I'm going to get into why I think I found it so hard to type that. I think it boils down to shame. I'm ashamed of the fact that thoughts of self-harm still plague me from time to time. Which is silly, when that's the exact thing I'm trying to combat with this website; nobody should ever be ashamed of their illness or the things that their illness drives them to do to themselves.

So why am I ashamed? Expectations. I think. Expectations are powerful things, because when there's expectation, if you fall short, you're letting someone down. What are the expectations I'm trying to live up to? I feel like I'm supposed to be healthy and happy now. I'm supposed to have overcome the negative self-talk, and the urge to hurt myself. But who expects that from me? Myself or others? Be warned, this is where it gets a little complex.

I don't know if it's others' exectations or my own. Or do I? If it's others' expectations, then in reality it's my perception of their expectations, because nobody's said to me "I expect you to be a perfect human being who never has to battle any addictions because you're healthy and happy now." And if it's what I perceive to be their expectations, then am I just projecting my expectations of myself onto other people?

It's an interesting dilemma, and one that whilst confusing, has distracted me from the thoughts that have been ricocheting around my head.

Of course there's still one question unanswered: regardless of where the expectations are coming from, why do they exist and lead to shame? This can be answered with one word: stigma.