TRIGGER WARNING: Self-harm, suicide
I began cutting myself when I was 12 years old. At the time I was struggling with life. Friendships were difficult. Perfectionism was crippling and I just hated myself. I hated what I saw in the mirror. I hated the words that left my mouth. I didn't want to die then but I didn't want to be me either.
Cutting became my way of coping and I would do it several times a day. It became my answer to everything. If I had an argument with someone, or if the bullies shouted stuff at me then I'd cut myself in the toilets. It was my private thing and it stopped me from bursting into tears all of the time. I began to cry in blood instead behind a locked door and I hid the evidence under my navy sleeves.
I can understand why people struggle to get their head around it. How can hurting yourself be a comfort blanket? Even as a self-harmer I find it difficult to answer. I think the first cut comes from a place of desperation, negative feelings and a lot of pain and then it turns into a cycle and the self-harming gives you control and punishment and it becomes your 'go to' thought.
I think there is a huge amount of stigma around self-harm. At school people would see the cuts when I was getting changed for PE and I was called an attention seeker which just made me hate myself even more. Self-harm is definitely not attention seeking, if I wanted attention I would do it in a better way than covering my body in ugly scars. If it was for attention I wouldn't have cut in the middle of the night, under my duvet in the pitch dark or behind locked toilet doors.
It's important to remember that self-harm is different to suicide. Not everybody who cuts wants to die. Sometimes cutting can feel like the only way to cope and stay alive. It can be easier to cope with the physical pain rather than the emotional pain.
Self-harm can affect anyone. It isn't just a teenager's problem. Any gender, any race and any age can be affected by self-harm. I never thought I'd cut myself and I don't think my parents expected me to self-harm either. It was never meant to be this way. I'm not proud of my scars but I'm not ashamed of them either. They are a part of my story and I can't change the past.
Useful websites and helplines:
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393 Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.) Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org