Hi everyone! Today is Self Injury Awareness Day, so I thought it would be the perfect time to publish my first piece on self-harming. I think it is extremely important to discuss because it is very common yet there is such a huge taboo and stigma around talking about it. Even MORE so than talking about other aspects of mental illness. A very kind mental health advocate named Jessica Remter from the blog Flight of Recovery agreed to write about her own experiences. I am so grateful that she was so open and honest. It is a very powerful story. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Nine years ago I started self-harming. Three years ago I quit.
When I was thirteen years old, life wasn’t too bad- at least that’s how it looked from the outside. I’m not sure what planted the seed in my mind, but I got it into my head that self-harming would make me feel better. At this time of my life I was just starting to realize that things weren’t alright with me. Something was wrong. Self-harming helped me cope with that.
Right around the summer before eighth grade, my grandpa moved in. He had remarried after my grandma passed away, and did not get along with his new wife. When my dad went to visit him, he came back home with him. Grandpa’s wife did not like this at all, and did everything in her power to let us know. The worst thing she did was make a call to the DSS that my dad was sexually abusing me. He wasn’t, but they had to start an investigation. This was really rough on my family, as it tore us even further apart. My dad and I had never been close, but now he wouldn’t even look at me. My mom took it pretty hard as well, but she never let it show. I think I took the worst, though. I became scared that they were going to place me in foster care during the duration of the investigation. I thought that they were going to come to the conclusion that I was being abused, and take me away from my family. I began cutting more and more.
It started as a small cut. I can still point it out to you, that very first cut. The ones that followed weren’t much bigger, but they grew in quantity. At first it was just one at a time, then two, then four or five. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I didn’t really want to stop, but at the same time, a part of me did.
I went to my English teacher at the time for help. She informed my parents and nothing came of it. The only thing that resulted in was my father telling me to never do it again or I’d be grounded. You know what I did not five minutes later? You guessed, I cut.
Eventually the cutting wasn’t enough, and I began scratching my hands. It got so bad that I would do it in my sleep and without noticing it, only to find my entire hand scratched up and bloody. Even though I quit self-harming three years ago, I still struggle with scratching my hands without noticing it at times, especially when I get stressed out and am not doing well.
But I was able to quit self-harming, after all. It took lots of hard work, and it definitely wasn’t done overnight. The last time I cut, three years ago, I cut my entire arm up, the worst I had ever done it. There they were, nine cuts all lined up next to each other, worse than ever before. It scared me, and it was the final straw to get me to quit.
It took me four years to quit self-harming. I had no support from anyone in my life, and while people knew about it, none offered any help. I turned to online resources and message boards to find the help and support I needed to get me through the days. I found coping skills that I began practicing, and with time, those took the place of self-harming. As I was working at overcoming self-harm, I messed up. I messed up a lot- I fell down, sometimes harder than others, but I always got back up. That’s the thing to realize: even if you fall down and relapse, get back up and try again. Try again and again, because eventually you’ll get it.
Just because I quit self-harming three years ago, though, doesn’t mean I still think about it. It’s not every day, but at least once or twice a week the thoughts creep into my mind. How good it would feel, even if just for a moment. How it would make everything better, even if just temporarily. Those are all lies, though, and I recognize that. Today I am able to acknowledge those thoughts and move past them without taking any action, but it took a long time and a lot of hard work to get to that point.
My advice to you is, if you self-harm, to reach out to someone. Anyone. If you think that no one in your life will listen or be able to help, reach out to someone online. You can always message me. Support is key in overcoming self-harm; without it, it is just that much harder to quit. But there is hope, remember that. You will overcome this in your own time.