I received a phone call to write about my experiences with self-harm, it was ironic because only the night before, in a moment of insanity, I had self-harmed for the first time in 7 months.
The first time I started self-harming was at 13 years old, I’m now 23 and in that ten-year period I have self-harmed with varying frequency. At my worst, just before a suicide attempt two years ago, the need to cause self-injury was huge.
Now you may wonder what posses a person to take such drastic action? For me it was simple, I needed a distraction and some relief from my own depressions, anxieties and suicidal ideations. Pain provided a focal point. Pain was empowering, it demands overwhelming attention. This provided me with the necessary distraction and warped sense of respite to quieten my own thoughts. I reasoned with myself that harming myself was the better option over killing myself.
Mental ill-health makes you feel isolated, alone and a burden and that is what makes part of the solution so difficult; You need to reach out, create a support network and develop healthy coping mechanisms. I found myself a fantastic therapist and attend weekly therapy sessions. I also spoke to my GP and after my last suicide attempt, I have a team of wonderful professionals I can count on. I also have a very supportive family (who I still find difficult to be open with) and an indescribably brilliant best friend who is there for me. The struggle does not have to be singular, support will lessen the burden and you will be surprised at how much people do care and want what is best for you.
A final note for anyone who does self-harm, a nurse gave me a helpful suggestion; wear an elastic/rubber band and when you have thoughts to self-harm pull the band away from your wrist and let go. It will on impact provide a pain like sensation without being too harmful or leaving marks. I wear a colourful band on my wrist that way if anyone asks, I can just say it’s a fashion accessory. If I’m feeling open and confident, I can use it as a way to start a conversation on mental health.
If you need support, speak to someone. Contact your GP or call one of the helplines below –