Today is Self-Harm Awareness Day. I want to share my own story with self-harm today on this blog from a chapter from my memoir. This is an important topic to discuss because self-harm is such a significant part of mental illness. This is often a silent struggle, but if you are self-harming now or have in the past know that it gets better. It is possible to get to a place where you no longer have the need to self-harm.
Cutting and Self-Harm – My Story – PT 1
I am not advocating that cutting and self-harm is right or wrong. For some, it is just a way of life because for a time in our lives before we get help this is the only escape. Sometimes you get to a point where the emotional pain gets to be too much—self-harm is the only answer.
This subject means the world to me. The scars on my arms and legs are a constant reminder of who I was, and how far in the last ten years I have come. It’s a sensitive subject, but I would rather talk about it then push it to the side. It is important that others like me know that eventually you can get to the point where you no longer need self-harm.
Today I decided to touch a subject that most people hate talking about (or hearing about), and that subject is cutting and self-harm (I will for the most part call it self-harm from here on out.) I saw some interesting posts today on social media that prompted me writing this chapter in my blog.
I always believe that if people knew more about this subject, people would be less likely to ridicule someone who has lived through something so traumatic that they chose to cut on their skin. Even more so that someone has the courage to talk about their self-harm, which is never easy.
Humans are more connected than ever before thanks to social media the the technology of our time. With so many people connected, it opens a floodgate for people to be more open about their lives. Our little lives are just out there on display for all to see. And yes, I realize people don’t have to put their lives out there on social media, but I digress.
Some people want to post their every thought and emotion on social media merely to make a connection. At times the result of people posting these types of stuff on social media is that people can be harsh. I have seen people bullied because they need to talk about “self-harm.” The comments that people leave are part of the problem, but the issue is more profound and darker. It saddens me because I understand, I have lived it, and people making horrible comments only makes it harder for people to eventually get help. When I was not so in tune with my mental illnesses I too stopped talking about self-harm on my social media because of the negative backlash from the people that called themselves my friends (and some family.) They didn’t understand, and I get that now but it still hurt.
People at times hate what they don’t understand. When the subject if self-harm comes up on social media, people tend to attack it in vicious ways. Most are on one of two sides: the people that cut (I will call them us) and the people that criticize. In this world, there is not much grey area, and people see us as attention seekers. This is an untrue judgment, the posts we make might just be what gets us through a day. It might be what we need to not self-harm that day. There is always a history for someone who cuts, and most people don’t know that person’s past. If you knew this history would you still judge us?
So that’s where this chapter is headed. I want people to know some of my own experiences with self-harm. If you see the history of one us, you might understand what leads us down this path. It is not pretty, and it’s a subject that is in the past I would rather not talk about here, but at the same time, it has to be discussed.
Emotions have always gotten the better of me. Being bipolar, my feelings are heightened to the extremes. It is a cruel world, and most people prefer not to hear about your problems. They have issues of their own, and that’s understandable. That is how it was for me since I was a teenager and into my twenties. People saw the side I let them see, the me on the outside, I was an okay kid. I got decent grades and interacted with people the best I could. On the inside, I was much different.
Dealing with my problems was never my strong suit (it still isn’t.) I prefer to shut my issues inside, and never deal with them head-on. I have never been a people person, and I prefer to be locked inside writing than out socializing with the world. In school, I had people I knew, and I guess you can call them friends. I could never talk about how I felt about self-harming in high school. Most days life just passed me by. This made me different, an outsider. My problems compiled in my head. I never talked about how I felt. I allowed my pain to keep building until it left emotional scars, and those are the worst kind of injuries.
Emotional pain can be an unbearable experience. The world disappears. You get lost in your mind, and escape seems impossible. You feel tired. Alone. It is a dark place. You feel like you are holding the weight of the world. I would lay there for hours doing nothing but staring into space lost in my mind. Social media was my way of escaping. People that experience emotional pain in their lives it is a part of life, but for me, my emotions were magnified by a thousand some nights. The emotional distress would go on for days, weeks, months, and yes, sometimes years. The toll it took on me, it always led me to the wrong solutions— self-harm.
It was emotional pain led me to do things like cutting on my arms and legs for some of my teenage years and my early twenties. Physical pain, compared to the emotional pain that comes with a mental illness, is easier to deal with because at least physical pain can be healed. That is why my solutions led me to self-harm. My arms and a razor became my sanctuary. When I cut, the emotional pain was pushed out of mind for a short time. Physical scars heal over time, but emotional scars may never recover. My past was always difficult to deal with, and in the present moments I was in turmoil.
I would hide my scars with hoodies that I never took off so that people couldn’t see what I was doing to myself. For years no one knew that I turned to self-harm. It was easy to hide, and it was just easier to deal. When self-harm became too much, there was always the last resort—suicide. If I am honest, there were so many times that self-harm kept me from committing suicide. The suicidal ideations would appease when I turned to self-harm. I am still here, so there is something positive in the negative.
The point I am trying to make is that life for some people like me, life can be very harsh. We are human just like everyone else. It has been many years since the last time that I cut. I got to a point where I could manage my emotional pain at a level where I didn’t have the need to self-harm. I look back and I realize that my scars made me who I am today—a better person with a mental illness.
I have come a long way, but the scars on my arms are still the reminders of a time where I couldn’t deal with life. It hurt. It cut deep. But ridiculing someone because they would rather have physical pain instead of emotional pain it can destroy that person even more. I know it did for me. There is no shame in being so strong for so long and finally giving in. I believe those are brave people in my eyes.
There are so many people out there, especially at the teenage level (when I started cutting) and I speak to them now. It will be okay. If you haven’t already get help. It would mean the world to me if you got help. If you would like to share your story with me, please do. I will not share it with the world. If you need someone to talk to, I am always there for you. Cutting is not the end of the world.
Always Keep Fighting
I wanted to say first, thank you all to those who have already donated towards upgrading The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog to the business level. There have been some fantastic large donations and also amazing small donations that have brought us closer, but we are still not quite there–as of today we have made close to 300 dollars, which is really amazing! I think this final push will help us finally achieve our goal.
What is the Goal?
The next level. Upgrading The Bipolar Writer blog to the business level for the next year and a half. This will give the blog more options on getting the collaborative work out there into the world. I also want a place where authors can showcase and sell their work on here (I am working on how this will be possible.) At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to spread the stories and experiences of those in the mental illness blogging community with the world and end the stigma.
This campaign will end on Sunday, March 3. I hope we reach our goal, of not I will put that money into savings until I can reach that goal with my own money. Every penny will go towards the upgrade.
This blog has always been self-funded by my own money, but the community has also helped me with funding from time to time. Every penny that I raise is going towards this blog and spreading the many stories that feature on this blog. It takes just small donations (significant donations are also welcome) and with the 11,100 plus followers of this blog donating 2-3 dollars we can finally reach the goal! The final goal will be $425.