Self-harm, a term attached to when a person purposely inflicts harm on themselves.
Often people associate it with cutting but it’s also burning, drinking, smoking, eating habits, over exercising and so much more. Please do not take these as suggestions but we do need to remember that self-harm is much broader than you may think.
*Explicit Self Harm Trigger Warning*
I started self-harming at the age of 14, this is apparently extremely common, which really hurts to know.
I didn’t know what I was doing to start off with, I just developed a nervous habit of itching the back of my hand; it got pretty bad.
I don’t know why or exactly when it happened, it just became a thing for me.
One day, someone saw my marks and told me how to do it properly. It was a joke to them but to impressionable young me, I was curious and my mind seemed to want it. Please never ever make joking suggestions on self-harm, it does a lot of damage.
It became a daily thing, I would harm myself. At my computer desk and in the bathroom. I spent hours watching the toxic blood flow from me and it felt good. It was a routine for whenever I was alone, as I never wanted anyone to see me.
At the time, it seemed like my only option. I had no safe space, bullied at school and a bad home life. I had no friends, no one to talk to; I was truly alone.
Where do you turn when you are in that situation? This is a situation I am sure many addicts can relate to.
To be honest, self-harming was a release, it was cleansing.
In the same way, I became an alcoholic, I was trying to fix the problem myself, so I didn’t have to be a bother to others.
It made my life difficult. I couldn’t go swimming, wear shorts or leave the house without a jacket.
I couldn’t even change in P.E and I hated sleepovers. What was a secret became a double life and it was consuming me.
I didn’t want to die, that was not the intention. In a way, I was trying to attack the problem, punish the bully, which was in my own head. I needed to feel something other than the anger and hurt bubbling inside of me.
What I know, is that I Self Harmed because I had no healthy outlet. I was trying to be strong and survive.
I did not see it as a bad thing, it was something that allowed me to carry on, much like protein shakes or coffee.
I believe also my lack of understanding of myself and my mental health had a huge effect on me. I had no idea I had an illness or a disability. I just thought I was a problem, I was different and no one could possibly understand that.
If I had someone to talk to and if someone informed me about mental health, I’m not sure I would have self-harmed.
Imagine how many teens can be helped of parents and schools taught about mental health, if there were counsellors and safe spaces. It could save lives, it could have helped mine.
My advice to you is this:
I suffered alone for so many years when I did not have too.
I assumed that I would be rejected by my family if they found out, I didn’t want to disappoint them and yet, I wouldn’t have wanted them to find out through anyone else.
My parents found out when they caught me, but what happened was my dad sat next to me and told me to be safe and that he loved me; I needed that.
This event didn’t stop me but it’s a reminder that you don’t need to fight this battle alone, you don’t know what people’s reactions will be.
I still have days where I relapse, just like many other people in recovery will.
But what helped me was talking and letting out my feelings through writing and my online family.
Words can be the most powerful form of support and they are free.
Most importantly is that self-harming can be stopped or at least minimized.
Keeping productive, self-respect and mindfulness are all tools that have lowered my risk of self-harm.
When you find a healthy outlet, the bad outlets will fade away, which is why it’s so important to focus on yourself and what makes you feel happy – even for a moment.
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