I was only 14 when I started to self-harm. I didn’t know what I was doing at the time, but it began as a kind of anxious habit to calm me down.
I was never intending to hurt myself. I was doing it for the sense of relief it provided. I felt like the only way I could function and leave my room was as if I had that release. I was so ashamed that I did it, and at school, I was worried I would be bullied for the scars on my skin. I didn’t want to be known for that, so I hid under baggy clothing.
It impacted my relationships too. I didn’t want a person I liked to see my skin or to see my scars. Even at school, I would find excuses not to do P.E. so I wouldn’t have to get undressed. If I couldn’t get out of it I would have to change in such a complicated way that I still managed to draw attention to myself. It was hell.
One day my father walked in on me when I was self-harming. I thought, “This is it, I am in so much trouble and I’ll be grounded.” On another level, I felt so worried about upsetting my father.
He meant so much to me and I never wanted to give him a reason to be hurt. Yet to my surprise he just sat next to me, calmed me down and told me to be safe. He then got me scar oil in case I wanted it – which was so thoughtful.
I am now 22 and haven’t self-harmed for over a year. I have no desire to harm myself in any way, I don’t even drink or smoke anymore.
So how did I recover from self-harm?
- I keep myself productive – I clean, write and trampoline to avoid those thoughts.
- I talk to people – because I know that there is no shame in my feelings or my past.
- I never overwhelm myself and take one day at a time – knowing your limits is important.
- I find a healthy outlet – expressing your feelings and finding a healthy outlet, be it a sport or an art, will help even if it seems impossible to do.
- I started small – you can start small and build it up with time.
- To start with I found writing hard, but now I don’t stop. It’s my therapy.
Looking back, for a long time I had suffered alone and didn’t realise I could ask for help. So my message to you would be: don’t let fear prevent you from getting the support you deserve.