SELF HARM AND ME

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**Trigger warning.** Self Harm is a subject I have looking to cover for some time but have struggled to find someone to share their experience. Thank you Hannah Joy for doing that and helping others feel less alone, especially whilst still on a recovery journey herself.

  • The first thing you need to know is self-harm isn’t an attention grab. It comes from a place of brokenness, pain and desperation. And I’m writing this because I want people to know that. 

  • The first time for me was supposed to be the only time. I was already struggling with mental health issues, when it first happened. It came after a long and painful night during which I’d resorted to calling a helpline. In the morning it was a way of numbing the pain. Forgetting the night. I think in a way I was a little ashamed. I just always thought I’d be the one supporting people struggling with mental health, I never really thought it would happen to me. 

  • Then it happened again. And again. And again. It became my coping strategy before I even registered, I was doing it.  

  • It wasn’t a big thing in my head, I was using objects like safety pins, I wondered if I could even count it as self-harm.

  • Yes, I was hurting myself, but no it wasn’t with big objects. Self-harm seemed like an over dramatic phrase; it was more like self-help. A lot of the time I felt like I deserved it anyway. 

  • But it is far bigger than I acknowledged. The scars built up and suddenly I was terrified of people seeing my arm and asking questions I wasn’t prepared to answer.

  • So, I started to wear long sleeves terrified that someone would demand I role them up and that I’d have to tell the truth. 

  • I guess this was the first hint this wasn’t okay, my outfits went from short-sleeved to long and it narrowed my wardrobe right down because I barely owned anything with long sleeves.

  • I am dreading summer. I don’t know what I’m going to do as most of my summer wardrobe involves short sleeves. I guess I’ll have to wait and see if the scars stay.

  • The first person who found out was my housemate and I was shocked when they didn’t hate me. They told me lots of people struggle and they took away my safety pins, razors and any other sharp objects that I could use to harm myself.

  • Maybe this wasn’t as bad as I thought, after all now I couldn’t really self-harm. 

  • One night my housemate found me on the floor I’d smashed a glass so that I could use a shard to harm, I was holding a bloody shard hysterically crying, with broken glass literally everywhere in front of me. My housemate just picked me up, got me out the room and into the bathroom and cleaned the wounds. That reaction reassured me my housemate wanted to help me. 

  • Later that day my housemate took me to A and E. I answered all the questions, but I was shaky and the department was busy, it didn’t really feel like anyone cared. In my head, they were asking all the wrong questions…

  • No, it wasn’t a suicide attempt.

  • No, I haven’t been sectioned.

  • Yes, I think I do need some help.

  • Yes, I already have a therapist.

  • I guess I probably am safe tonight.

  • Sure, my housemate can probably handle me, never mind whether that’s fair on them. I had someone so I could leave. They never even looked at the wound. 

  •  The whole time I was waiting to be assessed, I sat on a cold hard plastic chair next to a drunk guy who kept mumbling and trying to chat me up and thought how is this me? How is this me? How on earth is this me?

  • After that it got a bit better. Yet it was still taking control. It was the little things that became a big problem. 

  • My housemate did a sweep of the kitchen and took out sharp objects, like knives and scissors. 

  • I found myself freaking out whilst drying up after dinner. I reached into the cutlery dryer and pulled out a knife, as they were hidden, I hadn’t seen one in over a week and I didn’t know whether I wanted to hide it again or use it. I just put it back into the cutlery dryer, wondering if something seemingly simple like chopping an onion, would be something I could do again. I don’t trust myself with anything sharp and that’s a scary world to live in. 

  • What’s scarier is nobody else trusts me with sharp things. “I’ll change the glass to plastic.” “Don’t worry you don’t have to even look at a knife.” I know they have my best interest at heart, but I feel like a child. A small dependent child, who’s reliant on others to survive. 

  • The thing is self-harm did work, in a strange way, it helped. Harming helped. I don’t feel embarrassed to admit that. Maybe I should. Before harm started, I’d been having panic attacks, after I started harming, they stopped. And so, the harm escalated. 

  • It’s like having two minds, the rational, where everything is going to be okay. If I harm in the rational I do it safely because I am aware of myself and what I’m doing. Then there’s the irrational, where nothing is okay. It’s the irrational that’s scary, because I’m not in control and so if I harm it’s without thinking about safety. 

  • It still happens. I want it to stop, but it’s like an addiction I can’t magically stop overnight. Trust me if I could, I would. 

  • I told no one, but when I was more rational, I did show the people in my life who I knew would help me if I admitted I need help. Just a few trusted friends and my parents and sister.

  • I know it hurts these people and I don’t want them to hurt, but I can’t help it. If I could stop for their sake I would. I really would. 

  • The people I trust the most through this are the people who don’t tell me to stop, they tell me be safe and they clean the wounds and hold me if they find out I’ve hurt myself. I know can come to them anytime. In any state. 

  • I’m so unbelievably grateful for that. Grateful for them. Grateful for the fact they’re willing to fight this for me and with me. 

  • I know I’m so lucky. Not everyone has someone to tell. Not everyone has someone to pick them up. 

  • I also have professional help and slowly it’s getting better. I know I can be free of this. Eventually.

  • Help is out there, but it can be painful to look for and even more painful to stick with. I’m currently waiting while they find the right support for me and it is hard to deal with. It doesn’t feel like help, but I know it will help in the end.

  • Self-harm is a complex issue, I know people do it for so many reasons. Yet I’ve never spoken to anyone else in my life who self-harms. I don’t think that means that no one else in my life does it, but it’s not a thing anyone wants to share and I know exactly why. 

  • I know people have lots of different opinions on it. Even worse they have lots of opinions on why people do it but what they need to know is there’s a person hurting in the middle of it all. That’s what it comes down too, someone who needs help. 

  • I know it can be overcome. I hope one day I’ll overcome it. 

  •  More than anything I know that finding people to cling to through it all is the biggest help possible. 

 

 

 

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3 Comments

  • Reply Jade Bowen March 7, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    This is such an important story to tell! Thank you for being do honest and open and acknowledging that it really is an addiction.

  • Reply Lucy March 8, 2020 at 10:08 am

    Thank you for this, knowing I’m not alone

  • Reply Jo March 8, 2020 at 7:09 pm

    I found this such an emotional read. I have self harmed for a long time. I have used razors, glass and boiling water. I have been a patient in two psychiatrist hospitals in the past where the attitude was hugely different. The staff in one made me feel such shame for harming. The others dressed my wounds and cared for me without judgement. My own mother slapped me across the face for doing it. I haven’t done it for so long now but the longing at times of desperation is still as strong. I hope I can always fight it but if I can’t I will feel no shame.

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