National Self-Harm Awareness Day

Two serious posts in one week – crazy huh? I promise to get back to shopping and clothes and mayhem and foolishness next week!

Today is National Self-Harm Awareness Day. To be honest, I didn’t even know there was a day for this until about 3 days ago. However, I am insanely happy to hear that there is a day that brings attention to this widespread and serious issue. Why is this so near and dear to my heart? Let’s back up and bit and I’ll tell you a story……

It’s real – it has a ribbon!

I’ve shared my personal struggles rather openly on my blog. The way I see it, the more I am willing to share, the more others will know that they aren’t alone. I’ve lived with chronic clinical depression since I was a teenager; I take medication, I see a doctor, I have seen many therapists, and I’ve learned to live with my illness. It’s not weird or strange or bad – it’s just learning a new normal. I accept that my “normal” is much different that other people’s and I have to be ever mindful of any slight variation of that normal. It doesn’t take much to send me into  a deeply depressed state and I do my best to stave off this instances. But they happen, and I have to be gentle with myself and give my brain time to regroup. It’s not easy, but it’s life.

I have once mentioned that I was a cutter (sorry, the video was deleted – here’s a link to the song I posted), but I didn’t really go into details. I started cutting when I was 14 years old and until about 4 years ago, it was my go-to method of coping. I am well aware that it’s not healthy but it made things more bearable at the most difficult times in my life. I’m not proud of it, and I certainly avoid it now, but I no longer want to be ashamed. I do get a lot of questions and comments when people find out, so let me clear some things up and respond to them.

1- Doesn’t that hurt? Of course it hurts. I don’t have any super-human powers. It hurts just like any other time you get injured.

2 – You just did it for attention. That is correct and incorrect at the same time. I did it for attention in the sense that I needed help and I didn’t know how to communicate it. There was nothing visibly wrong with me so how was I supposed to explain my “symptoms” to a doctor? However, it also provided a comfort to me; finally I could see something that hurt. All of the pain that I felt – the sadness, the depression, the frustration and anger at myself- was in my head. I badly wanted something to point at and say “look, it HURTS!!” to validate the fact that I wasn’t insane and there was a reason to be in pain. I didn’t do it for the attention from others. Rarely did people (other than my family) see my injuries. I worked hard to keep them hidden.

3- That’s so bad for you. Promise me you’ll never do it again. This one is my favorite because it’s absolutely misguided but comes from a place of love. First of all, I know it’s bad for me. Trust me, I understand that dangers and the fact that I have to deal with an open wound. But asking me to promise never to do it again is sort of setting me up for failure. Now, I do not ever plan on harming myself again. I have found other ways of coping and I don’t plan on ever going back. However, if push comes to shove and I do, I have no desire to be bogged down in the guilt of letting YOU down. So when you meet someone who self-harms instead of trying to extract a promise, make them an offer like “If you ever feel that low again, I want you to call/text me. No matter what time it is, I will talk.” Set up a code word that they can send so that if it’s the middle of the night you know that it’s important and not just a drunk dial.

4- Can you get rid of the scars? This one is my favorite! I will admit – I am a bit self-conscious about my scars. Meeting new people has opened me up to many queries about them. If it’s a casual social setting where I’m meeting acquaintances, I will usually make up some random story about a wayward mountain goat with rage issues. Usually they understand that I don’t really want to discuss it and they change the subject. However, when it’s someone I’m close to who I trust, I will level with them. While I am self-conscious, I am not ashamed.

If you take nothing else away from this post, please take this; self-harm is not something to be ashamed of or something that needs to be hidden. If you or someone you know has an issue with self-harm, know that you are not alone, you are not a freak, and there are people out there that can and want to help.

Thanks for letting me talk about this today. I promise we will return to purses and shoes and dresses next week!

Love/hate what I wrote? Feel free to comment, sound off on Facebook or talk with me on Twitter. I love chatting with all of you!

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  • Thank you so much for sharing this!   I can’t even tell you just how much this post means to me. You are a brave individual for coming to terms with this enough so that you feel comfortable sharing about it.

    • Thank you so much! I don’t know if it’s so much as brave as a need to show others that it’s not shameful. The more it’s discussed openly, the more people going through the same thing will feel comfortable coming forward and asking for help.

  • Sableandsage

    I know it’s hard to reveal the most intimate details of ourselves, so thank you for sharing. I went through some hard times as a teenager, but there is no way that I can image what you’ve been through. Thinking of you!

  • Mom

    You have helped someone today with your story….someone who doesn’t understand why they do it and someone who doesn’t understand why their loved one does it.  Thank you for your courage in sharing your story.  I love you, honey.  

    • Thank you Mom, I love you too. Thank you for loving me during such a painful time in my love and giving me the strength to be able to share my story.

  • deb

    Thank you for posting this.  Not only have you helped me to better understand why my daughter cuts but I now understand it’s not my fault. Oh yes, I am sure I have contributed to the issues but I know I am not totally responsible!  A weight has just been lifted off my shoulders. Bless you and all cutters!!!!!

    •  I am so happy that I can offer you some comfort. I know that my own family struggled with my self-injury and I hope that I can spare other families the same heartache. Always remember that no one is responsible for another person’s actions; people choose to do what they want. I hope your daughter finds peace and help. Lots of love to you and your family!

      • Deb

        Yes, she spent approximately 18 months in treatment and was able to graduate high school on time.  She is healthy and continues to be strong!