I was 12 years old the first time I self-harmed I was sitting in class hypnotized
by the little shards of glass on my desk I just accidentally smashed
my new watch with my elbow but I wasn’t worried about that There was a new kind of focus in my mind
and without thinking I picked up a little shard and dragged it through my wrist For a kid, the feeling was hard to describe I mean, it hurt and watching the blood pool out onto my desk made me feel pretty woozy I even got sent home for the day but
there was something else there Another feeling I couldn’t quite put my finger on And I wouldn’t for a long time I did it for years without ever really knowing why All through my angsty teens It’s what angsty teens did, right? Just a phase? To tell the truth
I just liked the way it felt In the end I realized it was
about control It was about some semblance of power in my life
that I desperately needed You see I am a child abuse survivor. My power was taken away from me at a young age And I never really got it back Even now As I near 30 I’m always kind of afraid Always expecting the worst right around the corner Doctors call it anxiety And for me, they call it a few other things too For the longest time self-harm was my power over that It’s a confusing one, right? Well, for me it makes sense to talk about an ideal,
a way of thinking, to explain it better. It’s called nihilism and by definition is
the philosophical viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are
unfounded and that existence is pretty much meaningless If you’ve ever been in the receiving end of such wrongdoing If someone’s ever abused your trust and
certainly if you’ve ever felt low enough to hurt yourself this might make a lot of sense to you.
It did for me for the longest time. You see, my nihilism was my armor I couldn’t be hurt in a world that didn’t matter If I got sick of the way
things were I could always take the easy way out That thought never left my mind
and though it might be hard for people to understand, just having that option is probably what kept me here. Living life like there’s no tomorrow
can make you feel truly alive. I’m not condoning or supporting
any self-destructive behavior but it needs to be said that this isn’t crazy If you’re watching this, counting the scars on your arm. You’re not crazy. You might be someone who has had the control over your life, that you deserve, taken away from you. That doesn’t mean you’re just like me. Things aren’t that black and white. It might be a release for you, like turning a high-pressure valve when you’re feeling overwhelmed with emotion. Well, it’s your right to control that pressure. It might be the only thing left you can feel, when all else is numb and meaningless. Well, it’s your right to control your feelings. And feelings? Maybe they’re so strong you can’t properly express them, and this is the only way how. Well, it’s your right to control your expression. Or maybe you just want to punish yourself? Well, it’s your right to respect yourself enough
not to do so. I’ll be honest, I can relate to all of the above. It’s not a simple issue, it’s not a simple thing, and when you find yourself speaking to someone who doesn’t have experience with self-harm, you might feel like they couldn’t possibly understand, and you couldn’t possibly make them. But that’s okay. They won’t understand.
Think about it, how can they? They can however give you something very powerful. A promise. I’m just about twenty-nine years old now and have sixty-three permanent scars all over my body. Some of them nearly killed me. I thought I was being safe moving the habit to my thighs but nicked an artery on more than one occasion. I consider myself lucky to be here, and I’m here because I opened up to someone who loved me and made them a promise. It was a friend. Not a mother, or a brother, just a friend. One I loved, trusted and respected. I couldn’t feel the sadness in what I was doing Like I said, it felt good.
It gave me the control I longed for, it gave me my power. But I could see it in her. I’m not saying it’s easy, I had to work hard to put myself in her shoes and see me as she saw me. Self-loathing goes hand in hand with self-harm. It’s not our way for everyone, but it was for me So it was hard to see the damage I was causing. To really see it, I had to feel bad for myself, and that wasn’t something I was about to do. That felt weak. Weak is what I felt all those times I couldn’t stand up for myself, and now ‘self-pity’ felt weak too I mean, it was hard wired in me. But even if it feels weak, allow yourself that. Because it’s not weak in fact,
it’s a huge demonstration of strength but I can’t convince you of that, and you know what? It doesn’t even matter anyway. What matters is trust. Trust is a blind, made up human construct, right? Sure. So, make it up. Put it in someone deserving. If you don’t know who, just ask yourself. Who do you feel you can really be yourself around? Is there someone in your life you can say absolutely anything around? Like, the crassest, craziest thing, and they wouldn’t bat an eyelid? A friend like that is a good start.
A friend you don’t want to lose. A friend you wouldn’t want to see self-harming either. Tell them what’s going on with you. Most importantly, show them your scars.
If you have a slip, give them a call, send them a message. Then make them a promise. The promise I made to my friend still stands. We actually fell out and I haven’t heard
from her in a long time but it stuck with me that somebody cared.
Somebody wanted me to be okay. I haven’t self-harmed in five years and I am immensely proud of that. I can’t say this works for everyone.
I wanted to share this with you because it works for me. Looking back now I realize it was such a
shame a tragedy how little I respected myself. When really, everyone should be
the center of their own respective universes. It’s like RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Now, I haven’t forgotten about you. You who might be completely alone. I was completely alone once too. I can’t say this put a stop to my self harm,
but on that night, it may have saved my life. I was in a particularly bad place at the time Post-breakup.
My partner had been cheating and I did not know how to handle the hurt involved in that. I was a bottle and a half of black rum deep Staring into a little mound of methylone on a DVD case, pressing cigarettes into my arm, trying to burn through to the muscle underneath. I burned myself for hours Toying with the idea of actually setting my entire arm on fire to see if I could kill myself that way. It left the biggest scar of my collection on my body and I look at it every day. I used to be a chef, so I always told people it was from a bad oil spill; but I never knew if they believed me. I passed out from the pain at some point. I woke up, disoriented, but with a clearer head. Instinct had me. The pain was white hot, pulsating through every inch of my body. I left a large patch of raw flesh, and while I’d passed out my arm had got stuck to the carpet. The blinding pain of ripping it up
was a bit of a wake-up call. I was eighteen at the time and still living at home. I couldn’t tell my parents.
Not a hope in hell of that. But this injury looked ambulance-worthy, and the thought of suicide looked more and more promising. How was I meant to hide this?
What would everyone think? Are they going to lock me up? I needed some answers without repercussions.
I needed someone to bounce these thoughts off so I phoned the Samaritans They’re an organization in the UK and Ireland who are there to talk, about absolutely anything. There are equivalents all over the world; suicide hotlines.
I spoke to this guy in disdain at first, mockingly almost. I told him what I had done. I spoke to him about finishing the job. To his credit he was one of the nicest people I’d ever had the pleasure of speaking with. He stayed on the phone with me for an hour or so, just listening, piping in occasionally and just keeping everything very calm. I didn’t finish the job.
Because I had someone in my ear asking me not to. Somebody cared. Now, I didn’t finish self-harming for years after that phone call either, but that’s just me. It’s not simple. It’s not black and white. Every case is not the same.
But that call did something for me. It can do something for you too. Just remember, it’s as anonymous as you like.
Someone will come on the phone and listen. You can give a fake name, you can lie through your teeth about what’s going on. It doesn’t matter. What matters is you’re talking. Letting this pain exist somewhere
other than your own body or mind. It’s a lot easier to look at and understand when it’s outside yourself, even in little ways. I can’t tell you what to do. When it comes to a self-harmer, no one can,
that’s kind of the point. But take it from me. as someone who came out the other side of this: The other side is there, and it will always be there. This can stop. You can be okay. So, make a promise you can’t break, or just reach out; anonymously if that’s what works. But, please, do something.
Nihilism is easy. If nobody cares, nothing matters, nothing can hurt you.
Well, I’ll tell you something. I’ve never met you, but I care.
I don’t want you to hurt yourself. You deserve more than that. You deserve the true strength that comes from
self-acceptance and vulnerability. You deserve a happy life
where you can manage your pain. You deserve a fresh start. It’s never too late, for a clean slate. If you can’t find anyone to promise.
Then please, promise me. Be safe. you