Self-Harm Is Not The Answer

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Self-harm is a battle I have fought for years. I cannot say exactly why I started or the events that led to me feeling the need to hurt myself, but I can assume that a lot of it was due to a lack of having a healthy outlet.

Growing up, I was not popular, I did not have a large social circle or anyone I could trust or talk to about my thoughts and feelings. To be completely honest, I did not understand mental health at this age and nor did I know that I was suffering from a mental illness.

All I ever wanted was to not be a burden to others, so self-harming was a way to attempt to ‘solve’ my issues without affecting anyone else. It turned out that I was doing so much more damage by protecting others above myself.

It is incredibly scary to have these desires to, in a way, punish yourself for feeling. Never understanding who you are or why you are acting the way you are.

It’s especially lonely when you can’t seem to find anyone who can relate; mental health isn’t a topic of conversation people bring up.

I started self-harming at the young age at 14, this was never something I intended, but it did consume the next 7 – 8 years of my life, the issue became chronic.

I can’t explain just how uncomfortable it is to live when you feel that no matter how many layers you wear, or how well you cover up, it still feels like people can see every one of your scars; I suppose I was ashamed of who I was.

At 22, I have learned to manage these feelings a lot better. I am not going to say that I never think about it, as that would be dishonest, and in truth, there have been one or two occasions over the last few years where I did become a victim to my desires.

I’ve learned that I should not punish myself for that, we all fight battles, this one is mine, and the important thing is that I have survived, and I am surviving every day.

I have gone from chronically self-harming in almost every moment that I was alone, to having skin that has healed and, in some places, you cannot tell that there was ever a scar, it’s just been that long since, but even if there was a scar, that’s part of me, a battle won because I am still here.

Fighting the urges to self-harm is hard, it can seem almost impossible some days. I know how easy it is to get caught up in those thoughts that make you feel like self-harm is the only possible way to remove them from your mind. Though, it does not mean that these voices cannot be turned down or even muted from time to time.

What keeps me going and keeps me distracted is not some extravagant coping mechanism. It is simply that I have found a healthy outlet, I write.

Talking about my feelings through words on paper, or a word document gives me a sense of understanding and acceptance for who I am. I have found a support network through this; I have people who can relate to me and are willing to hold me up when I am falling.

Most of all, I have found passion, purpose, and motivation, because helping others helps me.

The best bit of advice I can suggest to anyone who is self-harming or who wants to self-harm is that it is not the only way to cope with your mental health condition, there are healthier and safer ways. Finding something that will let out those emotions, such as spending time with friends, doing something creative or exercising can take off so much pressure and allow you to breathe again.

If you’re concerned that someone you know is self-harming, be there for them, listen to them and let them know they are loved because they need that.

When you find something that takes the weight off, you will find the confidence and ability to talk about what is going on in your mind, because you have nothing to be ashamed of. I spent so much time suffering alone, and I didn’t have too; the support was by the whole time, but I was too scared to see it.

On the days when you feel motivation is lacking, and when you feel that your life has no purpose or passion; think about the positive things in your life, your values, and morals. You could be a lifeline for a friend, the world’s best dog/cat owner, the diamond in your parent or sibling’s eyes. You could be skilled at something that seems second nature to you, you certainly already have a purpose, it does not need to be spectacular, so don’t worry if you feel lost right now, you are so important.

Written by Charlotte Underwood