Im ashamed to admit it but, I used to self harm.
When I was in my mid teens I was struggling to cope emotionally, I wasn’t sure what I was doing with myself. I was struggling at school, I was struggling to understand myself, I wasn’t comfortable in my skin. I did a lot of stupid things, I didn’t do things I should have done, I didn’t take care of myself. I contemplated suicide but, ultimately was too scared to do that. I considered the different ways to do it, I thought about taking I considered deliberately stepping in front of a car, I didn’t consider jumping from something. I didn’t want my death to be a spectacle. I didn’t even want my friends and family to know what had happened I just wanted everyone to think it was a horrible accident. I wanted my death to be poetic, I wanted it to be beautiful, I wanted to leave a note but then again I didn’t. I considered the content of said note but finally decided against it. I didn’t want to hurt anyone else, I just wanted to stop hurting me.
I started cutting myself out of frustration, it was a punishment for being an idiot, or for not doing things I said I was going to. I had become more of a recluse over the last year, this became especially clear when my friends started sneaking out to nightclubs and I always had an excuse. I lost friends through my lack of “commitment” but I didn’t really care. I didn’t think I needed anyone, and I thought it would be easier for everyone if they already hated me when I died.
Cutting myself was never about attention, it was never about bleeding, it was about punishment and it was about being in control. I couldn’t control my feelings, I couldn’t control my emotions, I couldn’t control my brain. What I could control was forcing my body to understand that I was not happy with it. I cut myself a lot and I’m surprised I don’t have more scars in fact looking over my arms now I have 4 and one of those was from a relapse.
To cut myself I would take cheap sharpeners, unscrew the blade inside them and use that to cut myself, I had a collection of blades, I had them in my glasses case, I kept them in weird places so they wouldn’t get found. I couldn’t hide it from every one of course, my boyfriend saw the cuts and wasn’t exactly ecstatic to see what I had done. So I refused to show him my arms, which wasn’t exactly easy.
The worst time I ever cut myself, I was absolutely distraught, I as so angry and depressed. I felt alone and frustrated. I was going through a “rough patch” educationally as well as in my relationships with my boyfriend and family, so much was happening in my life, but I wasn’t ready to talk to a doctor about this yet. I didn’t want my family or friends to find out about how I felt so I kept it bottled up. I took a nail file and I plunged it into my arm, then I kept doing that over and over, scratching at my arm in anger until I had created a gaping wound on my arm.
I refused to wear anything sleeveless for around a year the reason for this was I was embarrassed by that scar. it reminded me of the time I let my brain take over, the time I let my depression win.
Nobody noticed my scars, but then they didn’t really have much chance, I hid my arms. the only person who did notice was my doctor. I was (and still am) petrified of doctors, my blood pressure used to spike when I saw a doctor, regardless of the reason. Because of my weird blood pressure and maybe because my doctor wanted to check up on me, because they knew I was unstable. I could only get 3 months prescription of the pill at a time. The first time I visited the doctor post the nail file incident. My Doctor asked me what had happened to my arm, I didn’t just have the large cut from the nail file, I also had a lot of superficial cuts from sharpener blades. My instant reaction was to my cat had scratched me. I know the doctor didn’t believe me, but what could she do?
If anyone asks about the scar now I say it’s a burn mark. but I know the truth. and every time I see it I know what I did. I know that I wasn’t ok when I was 17 and that the only thing that is stopping me doing it again is knowing that it did absolutely nothing for my mentality.
But I can’t pretend the nail file incident was the last of my self harming journey, I did try it again, for old times sake. Earlier this year, I took a pencil sharpener blade to my wrist. It didn’t help me, it didn’t make me feel better and so I didn’t carry on. I haven’t done it since, I don’t need to not because things have gotten easier but because I have found new ways of coping, for better or worse.
The Elephant in the Room