My friends and family don’t know this, so if one day they happen to read this article I’d like to say I’m sorry I never told you.
After my dad died I had major struggles with myself. I was riddled with what ifs and the guilt I felt from his death took over my life. I hated myself. I felt like I could have and should have done more and maybe things would have turned out differently. I was mid way through Year 8 (about 13 years old) and there were rumours going around school about a few other people in my year ‘cutting’ themselves. Over time more and more people started trying it out and it sort of became a trend for people in the same year as me. It was that popular in our year that some people did it just for the sake of doing it. It was very much the norm for people at my school. It was coming up for the anniversary of my dads death and I was really struggling. I was in my bedroom one evening, sat on my floor in floods of tears. I hated myself so much. I wanted to punish myself. I didn’t even think it through, I just grabbed some scissors and used them on my forearm. I didn’t ever go deep into my skin. I didn’t want any permanent scars and I didn’t want other people seeing the cuts and it getting out that I had joined onto this ‘trend’. At first it was weird. At first I knew full well it was wrong, but I couldn’t seem to stop. After about 5 minutes I sat and stared at my arm. It was bright red and very sore. It was the punishment I felt I deserved. It helped me release my anger but I was very ashamed of myself. I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t know how else to punish myself and to get this anger out. A few days passed and my arm was starting to heal but I wasn’t. I was still broken. I still felt guilty but I swore I wouldn’t do it again. I was too paranoid about what friends/family might say if they ever found out. I didn’t want to hurt them and I didn’t want them to know I was hurting.
Mid way through Year 11 and I had perfected the art of putting on a brave face. To others I seemed pretty okay, but on my own I was still very much a broken soul. There was one day that was absolute shit. I was preparing for my GCSE’s and the stress wasn’t mixing well with my underlying issues. I got home from school and that evening I lost my shit. I full on broke down, grabbed the scissors and just went to town on my arm. Again, I never cut deep, but the cuts I was doing wasn’t giving me the pain that I needed to feel, so I gathered myself, went downstairs and got myself some water. I then added shit loads of salt to the water, went upstairs and on poured it on my arm. The sting and the pain that I felt was horrible but it gave me relief. I was still ashamed, but I felt that I had given myself the punishment that I needed. However, because of the pain release and the relief I felt afterwards, I carried on doing it and it was getting harder and harder for me to hide my arm. One of my friends at the time called B, she had her own experiences with self-harm and we were sat in McDonalds talking about it. It was hard to talk about it because I was so embarrassed, but I felt at ease listening to her knowing that someone else gets it and isn’t judging me. Summer was approaching and I really didn’t want anyone to see the state of my arm, so I tried to stop. I fell off the wagon a couple of times but by summer I had stopped…again.
Skipping forward to my second year of college. I was in a relationship which at the time was good. My boyfriend also lived at college so we pretty much moved into the same room and we were together almost 90% of the time. I was about 18 years old and I was still struggling with coming to terms about my dads death. It was something that I still felt guilty about. Not as guilty as what I did, but the feeling was still there. I was in counselling that was helping me release some emotions but it wasn’t helping me deal with them or learn how to process them. So after my sessions I usually broke down but I was sometimes unable to pick myself back up again. One weekend I hit a major low and once again I found myself crying on my bedroom floor. Looking back I don’t quite know why I reached for the scissors as it had been so long since I last cut myself, but I did. This time I didn’t go for my arm. I did not want anyone at college knowing. Nobody, except my boyfriend knew about my past with self harm. I was still ashamed by it. So I decided to cut my ankles. The pain was still the same but I didn’t have to worry so much about other people seeing the cuts. They weren’t obvious cuts unless I pointed them out. I went back to college once the weekend was over and told my boyfriend. I felt awful. I knew that I could not keep doing that as a way of releasing pain and anger.
I never did it again. Never even thought of doing it again, but at the time it was something that I found helpful for how I was feeling. The guilt that I felt about my dads death took over me and I ended up convincing myself that I needed to be punished. That my dads death was somehow my fault.
Self harm is a subject that I care deeply about. I know how hard it can be to stop. I know how it makes you feel afterwards. I possibly know why you might do that to yourself, but nobody ever deserves that. Your body doesn’t deserve that. When it comes to self harm there is only so much someone else can say or do. If you don’t want to do it anymore that has to come from you. Sure people can tell you how bad it is and what not, but when you find something that gives you pain and anger relief it’s bloody hard to stop. You have to take the first step yourself and I can guarantee that there is someone (even me) out there who has faith in you, who isn’t judging you and who will support you.
Remember that you are a strong person who could one day conquer the world.
You got this!