“I hurt myself on the outside to kill the thing on the inside”
Today is self injury awareness day and I was not going to post. BUT losing Claire has sparked a fire in me. I am determined even more now to break down barriers surrounding Mental Health and to speak out to end the stigma.
So yes my name is Jenny and I self-harm through cutting. You do not know how hard it is to write those words down. Or even to say ‘I am a self-harmer’ out loud. But I am and have been since I was 14.
I did not really know what it was at first. I did not understand why I was doing this to myself. Punishment, for me, was a big part of why I started as it was also when my Anorexia first started to take over my life. I punished myself for eating. I punished myself for being ‘fat’. I punished myself for being me.
The negative thoughts bombarded me and I felt worthless, useless and a burden to others. It soon became my way of coping with day to day life. It gave me a release. The pain was a distraction from the internal pain I felt inside. It was not long before my friends found out and told a teacher. And it was probably the best thing that could have happened. I finally had someone to confide in and I could talk about my problems or what I was struggling with. It helped. She was by far one of the best teachers I ever had- and I am so happy to say I am still in touch with her today. She has seen me through some very dark places and continues to support me. I am eternally grateful for I do not know what I would have done without her support.
But unfortunately the self-harm continued. It became an addiction. It was soon out of my control. I have stopped for periods of time over the years. But usually when my eating disorder has been fully in control.
In the past few years my self-harm has gone from bad to worse. What started as a few scratches turned into deep cuts frequently requiring medical attention. I have even needed blood transfusions a few times.
HOWEVER, all self-harm should be taken seriously. I was lucky in the sense that the ‘minor’ self-harm I was engaging in at a young age was taken seriously by the school and I was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). I received help and the school continued to give me on-going support all through my teenage years.
I would have liked to be able to end this by saying I no longer engage in self-harming behaviours. But the truth is I do. However, I do not give into the urges lightly any more. I fight them with all my might. I try my hardest to NOT cut. But when it’s the only coping mechanism you have it’s incredibly hard.
I really wish I never started. I wish I had never made that first cut. My arms are a mess now. And I am ashamed of them. I have to wear long sleeves all the time – even in hot weather. It is uncomfortable. I worry all the time that someone might see them and be disgusted. I’m scared I will be judged.
But I shouldn’t be afraid. I should not feel ashamed. They are a part of me and a part of my story and while I may hate having them and wish for clean arms again I am starting to accept them. Slowly, but surely. In the same way I tell everyone to love their bodies no matter if you have cellulite or stretch marks or any other problem, I want people to not be ashamed of their scars.
I also want people to know that there are many ways a person may self-harm. I personally cut but others burn or insert objects into their bodies.
If you suspect someone to be self-harming please please step in and offer them your support. Listen to them but do not judge. You will likely have no idea what they are going through. Self-harm is an addiction yes but like all addictions it can be overcome. And I have faith that the day will come when I do not feel the need to self-harm anymore and where I am content in myself. One day I want to not feel that deep desire to punish.
I hope I have opened your eyes into why people self-harm – it is not a phase or a trend. It usually comes with Depression, Eating Disorders or Personality Disorders. And is feature of them.
Take care guys