You may remember Matti? She has already written a post for the #SpeakUp series, but she wanted to cover more than one topic, and because I was so impressed with her last post about anxiety and paranoia, which you can read Here, I couldn't really say no! I'm so proud of Matti for sharing not one but two personal stories of hers to help raise awareness for the #SpeakUp series. She's honestly so brave and deserves all the love and support.
In today's #SpeakUp post, Matti is going to be talking about self-harm but in particular the reality of self-harm. How there is a lot more to self-harm than the stereotypical image of a teenager cutting their wrists. Self-Harm is serious. There are so many different ways of self-harming than just cutting, which Matti goes into during the post. People also have lots of different reasons for self-harming. I also have personal experience of self-harming, which is closely related to my OCD, which I don't really talk about much on my blog. Matti's post really spoke to me and helped me feel less alone; I hope it does the same for you if you have or are self-harming.
It goes without saying that this post carries a massive trigger warning. Matti does go into detail about self-harming, so if you do think you will be negatively affected by reading this post, please don't carry on reading! If you need to talk to me about any mental health problems you are experiencing my emails and DMs are always open.
TRIGGER-WARNING - This post talks during its entirety about self-harming in all different sorts. If this could be at all a trigger for you, I strongly encourage you to click away now. Fighting*!
The image of self-harming has always been the same - a teenager, crying and cutting their wrists with a razor blade. Today, I’m here to talk about everything surrounding self-harming, seeing as I self-harm myself, but not in the way you’d think, nor for the reason which you would immediately think of.
I started self-harming in November of last year. I’ve got a history of anger management problems, and I’m not a stranger to random anger attacks and moments where I’m furious for no actual reason. Even though I managed to keep my anger under control and manage to learn to control it to the best of my abilities, I still have moments where I’m furious, and I have no way of released that anger. That is until I started scratching my hand.
At first it was only lightly, almost a way of staying calm, barely even grazing my skin, but then as the anger started to intensify, I found myself scratching harder and harder and harder, to the point where I had taken the first couple of layers off, and it was rather sore and red. Then I kept doing it, whenever I felt stressed, anxious, annoyed, or anything, I would scratch. It started becoming a bit of an obsession. I’ve always liked filling things in (don’t ask, even I don’t understand why), and it’s a bit of a compulsion, so as my scars and marks started to increase in number, the compulsion for me to keep scratching so that it would fill the top of my hand.
I got called to the head of my department in school and the nurse also called me in after a couple of teachers became concerned. I felt like they were telling me off for it, insisting I tell them why I did that to my hand, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell them. How could I tell them that I was so full of anger and built up fury and that if I didn’t take it out of myself then I was going to start having anger attack after anger attack and that isn’t something I’m willing to put up? They’d just tell me I need to hit a pillow, but I’ve already tried that, and it doesn’t work. It’s so easy for them just to push it away and tell me to start doing sport or finding something to exteriorize this anger, but putting it into practice is something totally different.
It’s after I started getting problems with school that I started to move to my arm and my back. I do still scratch myself from time to time because sometimes I need to. I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to self-harming, but sometimes I do need it to keep focus. It’s hard to explain, really. Though I have my friends (namely one who also used to self-harm) who help me avoid doing it.
Today I wanted to talk about everything surrounding self-harm, in the form of a list because who doesn’t like a list?
1/ More people than you’d think self-harm.
2/ They don’t always do it for the same reasons.
3/ Even though a lot of people are, not all people who self-harm are depressed.
4/ Self-harm isn’t always an addiction. Sometimes it just helps people get through a hard time, but then once they’re okay again, they stop.
5/ It isn’t “cool” or “trendy” or an aesthetic. It’s a cry for help. Don’t romanticize that.
6/ There is nothing more soul-crushing and humiliating than when someone asks what happened when they see your scars or fresh wounds.
7/ You’ll immediately feel empathy and feel closer to someone when you see their scars.
8/ Self-harming isn’t just cutting. It’s also burning, biting, scratching, punching, hitting, to name a few.
9/ Your respect for someone who self-harms just to get attention magically disappears.
10/ There’s this odd feeling of affection and attachments to your scars that you will probably never understand.
11/ Getting help is hard. It’s hard to admit there’s something wrong, and it’s hard to have someone tell you that you need help. Because deep inside you don’t want to admit it. You just want to pretend you’re normal. That’s everything’s totally fine.
12/ The paranoia that someone is going to see your scars and start mentioning it and then giving you a speech about it is always real.
I hope you guys could relate to this, I didn’t want this to be a super serious post (even though self-harming is a serious thing), I kind of wanted to write it so that someone that does/has self-harm(ed) can read and hopefully see something that they can relate to so that they don’t feel so alone.
I know everyone always says this and that personally I always roll my eyes and think to myself ‘you make it sound so easy’ but please, if you are struggling with self-harm or any kind of mental illness, go and seek help. It doesn’t even need to be a specialist, just try and find someone you trust and talk to them about it. Teachers, friends, counselors, there are so many people who could help you if you just let them in (a note about teachers, I never dared talk to my teachers about anything out of fear of putting them out, but if you have a teacher you get along with, or that you like, talk to them. They’re humans too, and I’m sure they’ll try and help you as best they can. You never know, they may have gone through the same thing - which is a lesson I learned when one of my teachers opened up about having suffered from depression).
Just know that you are strong, and I believe in you and you are not alone and so loved.
I’m rambling now, but I just wanted to end this with a coping mechanism I found words quite well for creative people. If ever you have an urge to self-harm, draw on your forearm with a marker or a felt-tip pen. The skin on there is soft enough for most markers to show up on and using a marker avoids you just digging the pen into your skin, which is beside the point. But yeah, just doodle, squiggle, you don’t even need to be able to draw that well. Write quotes, sayings, doodles, anything. I found it really helps.
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.” - Ed Sheeran
*Fighting is a common South-Korean phrase to give someone courage and tell them that they’ve got this, and they can do it, which I really like.
I'm so proud of Matti for sharing her story; She's such an inspiration to me, and I hope she is to you guys too! If you would like to write a post for the #SpeakUp series about an issue that affects young people's health and wellbeing, then please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for reading, as always X