a self harm q+a

Trigger Warning: Mentions of suicidal ideations, self harm.

I couldn’t talk about this topic without putting a trigger warning because I do share my own experiences in here but I promise you reading this will do more good than it will bad. I hope that by speaking about this you realise that you are not alone and you realise that there is hope even if you can’t see or feel it.

I love you.

What was the moment that you first felt you had to take your pain out on your body?

I’ve always been the kind of person who was in my head in a lot. When I was younger (I’d say from the age of 8) I was really social and bubbly and extroverted but I also spent a bunch of time in my room, thinking about everything and feeling overwhelmingly sad for reasons I didn’t understand. I have this distinct memory of being in my bedroom and looking out my window (it had bars) and feeling like I was trapped. And my thinking process was kind of like I’m trapped in my room, in my complex in this country, on this earth, inside the universe. I can’t get out

I had a little bench in my room and I’d sit there looking out my window just thinking that over and over again. And I was 9 when I first stumbled upon the phrase depression, I was reading The Sisterhood of The Travelling Pants at the time and I was like ‘that’s it, that’s the word for how I feel.’ and I went on Google and looked up the symptoms and looking at the symptoms for me was the same as you checking off every item on a to-do list.

And I told my brother, and he thought I was being dramatic. I totally don’t blame him for this at all, I did drama every day of the week whether it was at school or practicing in my bedroom, I had a dramatic flair and I had a habit of diagnosing myself off the internet (turns out I did not have cancer the one time I had a headache). And I never, not once until I was about 12 did I give any signs that I was depressed. I was happy in front of people, I smiled, I laughed, I danced, I sang and watched movies and played dress-up. So there was no way he, or anyone other than myself would have known.

I was sad for a very long time before the pain became increasingly worse. The first time I self harmed I was 12, and I had a friend at the time (we’d met online) who self harmed too and at first I was the one trying my best to be there for her and support her and we’d talk everyday after school (we both lived in Joburg, and had mutual friends) and we’d bond over our love of Hayley Kiyoko and Halsey.

And then over that period I just started to feel more depressed, worse than I ever had before. I cannot describe it in any other way than my soul hurt, picture yourself being stabbed and you can feel the pain but it’s kind of numbed and dull, and that’s a fraction of how I felt. Everything was heavy, I cried a lot, didn’t want to get out bed, wasn’t hungry or was overeating, could barely bring myself to even brush my teeth, fought with my mum nearly every day. And then one day I couldn’t feel anything. And a part of me was scared, because when you are that young or any age for that matter there are few things worse than being numb. You don’t care about yourself, you don’t care about people, you don’t care about the world.

And so the first time I cut myself I did it to feel something.

Times after that were either to feel or to get rid of an urge.

And if you’re wondering what urges are like, from a poem I wrote “A hot fiery, sense consuming urge to rip myself to shreds because I didn’t want to breathe.”

 

What is the first step in the road to recovery?

I will be the first person to admit that I don’t talk about recovery often because I still have a lot of days where I feel like recovery isn’t an option for me and I’m not going to go into much detail because I am still figuring this out.

But I will say the first step, for me at least, was admitting and understanding that the way I was and was feeling and what I was doing to myself physically, emotionally and mentally wasn’t okay.

Step two, this wasn’t the order in which I did it but the order in which I wish I had, was realising that recovery doesn’t happen overnight. You might relapse, more than once (I have), medication won’t suddenly fix your problems nor will rehab, recovery looks different to everyone and recovery doesn’t just start outwards but inwards as well. Recovery is not linear there are high and lows and in-betweens, and you are allowed to feel hopeless and miserable and hate everything about yourself  BUT YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO STAY THAT WAY. Don’t you dare stay that way.

The rest of the journey is different for everyone. Coping tips help. Therapy helps. Youtube helps. The right people help. Medication helps.

 

Do you hide your scars?

It depends. Fresh cuts are never seen by anyone until they are healed because that’s potentially triggering. But the scars on my arms I don’t hide and I still wear shorts despite my heavily scarred thigh. And at the end of the day whether or not you show your scars is up to you, but they are nothing to be ashamed of. Everybody copes differently and at the end of the day that is how you coped and nobody has any right to make you feel bad about that, a big F*UCK YOU to anybody who makes you feel anything less beautiful because of your scars.

There are ways of hiding your scars and still wearing short sleeves and shorts, and at some point maybe I’ll write a list that I hope you use for the right reasons because I understand what it’s like to have people judge you and have to listen to comments about your trauma like it’s the next bit of celebrity gossip (which is wrong btw).

Hide them if you want, but please get help. If not for yourself, then for me, the girl on the internet writing this who has been there and continues to go there but is trying really hard not to.

You are an incredible being, you don’t deserve to hate yourself, and I will love you until you are ready to love yourself and continue to do so after.

I write for you, nobody else.

What advice would you give someone in the same mental state you were in when you began to self harm?

Talk to someone even if it’s not your parents.My friends were amazing to me and they supported me when I couldn’t support myself but if that isn’t an option for you, there are resources. My DMs and email are always open. I promise you I will not think you’re a nuisance, or a bother or irritating or any of the other irrational things your mind is telling you right now. I have a disorder that causes my mood to change so frequently I could be at an ultimate low and wouldn’t message anyone because I’d be manic pretty soon, and please DON’T DO WHAT I DO. It’ll pass yes, but in that moment when you feel low, I don’t want you to scroll through your contact list and feel like you have nobody to call or message.

I can tell you the number of times a friend has told me they were sad/ depressed/ considering self harm/suicide/ having an urge/ anxious/confused and I’ve turned them away:

ZERO!

And I can guarantee that number will stay at zero for as long as I am breathing.

Find people to support you, even if it’s people who don’t know you. I watched so much Youtube back then and even now I have a folder called for the bad days full of videos, I watched Dodie, Jenna Alexis, Zannah, Isabel. Find people who make you feel like you’re not alone, make you smile (even if you’re not ready to get out of bed yet).

Start a blog. Walk around barefoot. Draw. Rip paper to shreds. Organise your books according to colour.

DON’T WATCH ANYTHING TRIGGERING ON PURPOSE. Stay the hell away from searching self harm accounts, watching videos of people talking about stays in psych wards (if you think it’ll trigger you), showing self harm, anything that could trigger you needs to be kept very far away from you.

I used to watch those because a part of me enjoyed feeling sick, feeling bad, feeling like the trash of the planet, a part of me couldn’t imagine a day where I didn’t want to die and so I’d watch those on purpose IT DOESN’T HELP.

I know you don’t want to feel alone, I know you want to feel understood, but there are ways that aren’t going to hurt you emotionally and mentally.

What support should be provided for vulnerable young people?

  1. Therapy needs to be made more affordable and more accessible and so does medication
  2. Mental health needs to be talked at in school(NOT JUST ONCE A YEAR) and at home
  3. We need to do more to listen and support instead of judging
  4. Encourage people to talk about their feelings, say no to toxic masculinity, say no to the idea of perfection
  5. We need to stop making people feel more broken than they already feel.

What should you do if a friend is self-harming?

I’d say research what self harm is and why people self harm, try to understand why people self harm and then taking what you’ve learnt speak to your friend and ask them what’s going on. It’s not always going to be this big event that caused them to feel this way. Listen, try to understand, support them in the best way you know how and I don’t mean smother them with advice or force them to go out.

Be there for them. Show them the love they can’t give themselves at the moment. Don’t be judgmental, don’t make them feel guilty, don’t give them ultimatums or expect them to go into recovery overnight.

And I’m going to be 100% honest with you, sometimes telling an adult or their parents does more bad than good and other times telling them does more good than bad. And it differs in every situation, so really it’s up to you to decide but whatever your choice is you need to try your best to make sure that your friend is going to get the support they need.

If you have any more questions leave them in the comments, it’s kind of hard to trigger me so don’t worry about asking anything personal.

xxxChips

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20 thoughts on “a self harm q+a

  1. Heyy, thank you so much for answering – it was really good for me to hear your perspective on this. I can totally relate to the feeling of being inside your head way too much. I am naturally an extroverted, social, smiling person, but there’s always SO much going on underneath that people just don’t understand (positive and negative). I definitely struggle a lot with that sense of feeling trapped within myself and the world getting me so down sometimes. There’s so much negativity and, when you’re struggling to find solutions, that can become really overwhelming. I find it so hard to see so much pain (especially in my generation) and nothing being done about it. People just accept things the way they are when things are actually so stupidly wrong and messed-up.

    I just try not to let it drag me down and just to be there for people (I can’t put into words how important it is to me that we stuck together through this).

    I actually talked about all of these feelings and pretty much poured my heart out into a spoken word poem that I posted in my blog a couple of days ago if you wanna check it out.

    The fact that young people (my friends, my generation) self-harm breaks my heart, but hopefully things will change and get better. In the meantime, I just wanna be there for anyone who needs someone to talk to – you included. So reach out whenever, ok?

    Love you 💙❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re so welcome, if you have any more questions let me know, I’d be glad to answer them!!

      I totally agree and I think it’s so important that we continue to refuse the idea that the way things are in the world at the moment are okay, because they’re not. You’re a light, you continue to spread love and empathy and be there for people despite the darkness, and that’s really amazing of you!! You’re absolutely incredible and I hope you know that! I just listened to the poem and I don’t even have words right now because there was a point where I started shaking, you have such a way with words.

      It’s definitely hard to hear and be both directly and indirectly involved in all these things but I’m so proud of you for doing your best to change that and be a source of inspiration (and relatability) to so many people. Love you girly❤️️

      Liked by 1 person

      • I definitely will 😊
        Yes, yes, YES! That is so important and it feels so good to connect with people who feel the same way. Reading your words, words that echo so much of what I’m thinking and feeling, gives me hope 💙

        And girl, thank you. I literally have no words for what that means to me ❤️ all the same right back at you, seriously xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • I feel like once you find your thing whether that’s science or art or whatever you find your people so it means everything to know that I’m connecting with people on a whole other level than I normally would about my thoughts and feelings because I’m not as open about certain things(things I have no problem talking about on here) unless I trust you fully. I’m glad you’ve got hope angel, my DMs and email are always open💙💙 xx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. All I wanna say is thank you for making this post! I know it’s a difficult subject matter to talk about and it’s difficult for me to understand why people do what they do when it comes to this. I totally relate to feeling in your own head and started feeling like this since I was 8. I’d have panic attacks where I overthink the universe too much but it brought me back to my purpose and what I need to do. Sometimes I feel trapped but I’m happy that I was able to turn to healthy coping methods and cry whenever I needed to. I feel like no matter how sad I felt, I wouldn’t cut myself but that’s probably just me. If I felt numb, I’d do something like skydiving or adventurous like that because I hate the idea of cutting so much like augh it feels like nails on a chalkboard. It’s just something I personally won’t resort to but people sometimes feel too much or not enough and I understand that. It annoys me a little when people don’t ask for help and instead post scars on their stories because apparently depression is cool now. Like no, it’s not. But I can tell from this post that you’re sincere. I feel like us youth lack resilience and resort to bad habits quickly but thank you for this post! It truly helped educate me and if you ever need to talk to anyone, I’m here for you too! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re so welcome. You’re right by the way, everyone copes differently, it’s just not always in a healthy way. And I totally get that, I’ve seen so many pages on instagram dedicated to showing self harm in a triggering way and it bothers me loads. It’s not cool, it’s never going to be cool no matter how much people try to turn it into a trend. It’s scary and horrible and a whole bunch of other unpleasant things. I’m glad you learnt something from this post❤😊 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so brave of you to share with all of us. I have never dealt with self harm but I suffer from anxiety too. Sometimes I was thinking about hurting myself but I can’t as I can’t deal with seeing blood. Maybe, this sounds silly but it’s how I feel. It’s a topic most people don’t want to talk about because of the stigma and taboo. It’s so important to talk about it. Always remember we are all in this together 💪 You write beautiful and I loved your tips as they help me with dealing with anxiety too. Lots of love to you 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly it’s not silly I get it, and I’m glad you’ve never felt the need to resort to self harm💙 I used to struggle with anxiety pretty badly, I’d get frequent panic attacks etc. but it hasn’t been bad in a while. It makes me so incredibly happy to know sharing the tips I’ve learnt is helping you, you’re strong beyond words. Sending so much love💙💙 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t dealt with self harm and I hope that I never have to, but I do have a friend who’s been facing depression pretty quietly and just recently she’s owned up the courage to talk to me and tell me about it. and this post is definitely giving me a perspective I need to help her if I ever have to. This post was very much needed because it helps both people dealing with this and those that aren’t by giving them the information they need to help others. I’m so happy you decided to share this with us. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love you. I feel like these are some questions I may have to sit myself and ask myself one day, almost as a little therapy session. Reading this was definitely therapy for me and thank you so much as always for sharing things so personal, it really does mean a lot to people (aka me) who need it because it’s something that’s not spoken about enough and you simply offer the truth, which is hard to find in the world these days .xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t even put into words how much reading this means to me. I’m so sorry you’ve ever had to experience self harm, I know how hard it is and it breaks my heart to know you’ve been through that. You’ve been there for me so many times whether it was reading your writing or talking to you and I’ve said this before but I’m still breathing today and I owe a huge part of that to you, so the fact that sharing my experiences helped you in some way makes me feel so happy. I can’t not overshare and be vulnerable in the way that I am, not when I know that I’m breathing today because people did the exact same thing for me. I love you endlessly xx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. thank you thank you for this post and for all the good you’re doing. it was really helpful to read this post (i’ve recently met someone with a fresh scar on their hand..) – please take good care of yourself, you beautiful soul ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m just glad people are finding it helpful!! Can’t say I’m the best at the whole advice thing but if you ever have any questions my DMs are always open. Love you❤

      Like

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