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My Experience With Self-Harm MAG
For as long as I can remember, I suffered from self-harming. I probably did it earlier than elementary school, but I didn’t know and didn’t realize what I was doing until ninth grade. By then, I was so used to it, it devastated me to realize how I was harming myself.
Self-harming is a mechanism of coping with emotional stress. I didn’t know why I self-harmed, and I was so ashamed of my actions that I didn’t want to tell anybody. I ended up telling a friend out of desperation. I needed a helping hand and a friendly shoulder to cry on. That friend told me to tell my other friends, though it took me a while to muster a modicum of courage to do so. I cried every time I said the word “self-harm” because I felt like a weak person. It was hard to acknowledge the lengths I went to hurt myself.
I didn’t want to get professional help at first. My parents didn’t know of my illness and I was afraid that they’d send me to an asylum if they found out. It was an irrational fear, but one that made me keep my mouth shut. I also thought I could solve the problem myself, now that I acknowledged it. So I kept a diary. I tried to jot down my thoughts and feelings and tried to dig deep into myself for the reason behind my terrible actions. What ended up happening was me finding out how much I loathed myself – for my mistakes that I couldn’t take back and the regret that piled up higher and higher each day. I cried very hard that moment I learned of my true hatred for the person I was, afraid of how small and weak and terrible I felt. I looked on the internet for articles on how to help myself, just as I looked for help on YouTube. I talked to my friends. However, despite me stopping for days or maybe a week at a time, I always returned to causing myself physical pain.
My self-harming practice was subtle enough that you couldn’t notice it at first; not unless you studied me and my behavior. I tightened my muscles to the point of pain, held onto them, and then released them. It created pain like lightning across my flesh, causing tears to sprout from the corners of my eyes. I dreaded going to the bathroom every day for the mental battle I’d encounter once I closed the door. I wasn’t surprised that nobody noticed, though I felt disappointed and sad inside. That sadness built every day as I saw my parents look at me with their loving gazes, but not notice my pain and sadness. I wallowed in isolation, hoping for the day my parents would notice and save me. They were great parents – loving and caring; they just didn’t notice my problem because my subconscious brain was too smart to let them.
Finally, my constant problem filled the cup of tolerance in my household to the brim; my parents decided to take me to a therapist. With her help, I fought against my
fears, gripped some courage amidst in the ever-raging storm of my heart and mind, and spilled to my parents the truth of my struggles. They heard me and promised to help me. I felt like I could finally stop harming myself for good.
I stopped for a few days. Then I self-harmed again. And again. And again. Going to the therapist cleared my head, gave me space to think, made me realize truths about myself I hadn’t known were there. Through constant sessions and meaningful conversations, I learned that I didn’t hate myself and my mistakes. I didn’t loathe myself as much as I hated the weaknesses I felt. I am not physically strong, nor am I big or tall. I am a short with small muscles and live in a world where I feel in danger of being attacked because of my gender – a world where strength is one factor that determines how cool you are. My friends and I are not popular at school. I felt inept and small. I hated myself for how weak I was, and how easily I could go down in a fight. I pretended to be tough; I acted like I was the toughest one in my friend group, always ready to tussle and brag about my skills and how much damage I could do with a pencil. But honestly, I felt like I could do nothing.
Because of the help I received from my therapist, and the support of my friends and family, I can now say I am more confident in myself. Though I am still struggling with self-harm, I can forgive myself for the mistakes I made in the past and can make myself stronger for the future. I am taking a martial arts class and am learning that I’m not alone in my struggles. I write this now to tell the world that even though we have awareness of kids and teens struggling with depression, OCD, ADD/ADHD, anxiety and panic, bulimia and anorexia, we also have kids and teens struggling with self-harm. These teens’ voices need to be heard.
I want my legacy to be an awareness for those who don’t yet have the courage to speak for themselves. I want to raise attention for the kids and teens who harm themselves because they don’t know what else to do. They have no idea how else to cope with what they think they lack. I lacked strength and power; I have found both, along with the confidence to raise my voice in a world that tries to maintain ignorance and silence about those like me. We need help. We need a voice and I am trying to spread the word.
I still struggle with self-harm, but eventually I will stop. I will be free of this problem. It’s taken me years, yes, but I am patient, resilient and strong. I am a survivor.