Beth's Story - Self Harm
Looking at me you wouldn’t think that I’ve had countless
breakdowns, numerous suicide attempts, self harm, crippling anxiety and endless demobilising depression.. I have struggled internally since I was a child. There wasn’t an obvious trigger for the way I felt. Even to this day I still
don’t really know what “flipped the switch”. I have had many things happen over the years that have contributed to the way I have felt, but the initial trigger
is still unknown.
I always had two sides to myself.
In public I would come across as confident, outgoing, fun and generally happy. I would love to go to parties and getting dressed up and dancing the night away with not a care in the world.
Some days I was genuinely happy, but some days I just needed to keep up the façade I had created. When on my own I would be numb. Overcome in darkness. I would sometimes lie for hours on end in the dark, just staring into space. No thoughts running through my head. Not able to feel a thing. I would often spend days on end in bed, only getting up to go to the bathroom. I didn’t wash myself, bush my hair.. nothing. I just didn’t have the energy and it seemed so pointless. You might be reading this and think this is disgusting or laziness, but this is the true face of depression. Everything is an effort.
For me it was almost relaxing. A familiar. Something with no surprises. No pain brought on me by others. Just me, myself and my blade. Yes, my method of self harming was by cutting myself. It sounds like such a dramatic cliché of teen angst as that’s how it has been portrayed in the media. To me, it was the only way I could get through the day sometimes. I would mainly cut myself on my arms and wrist, but when I ran out of space I would move on to my stomach and upper legs until my wrists healed. It started off as just once in a
while to let out some of the frustration and anger. It was like a release. An instant relief washing over me to get me through the next few hours of sheer misery.
At my worst, I was cutting myself almost every night for weeks on end.
As time went on I started keeping a “supply” of blades, knives and broken glass hidden around in my room and the bathroom along with a lighter, antiseptic, cotton wool, plasters and bandages at the ready. I was careful and managed my wounds well. The thought of it getting infected and someone finding out what I was doing was terrifying. I hid my wounds from everyone. I learned ways to prevent anyone from finding out. I wore sweat bands, thick bracelets, held my sleeves so that they wouldn’t ride up when I reached for something in public. I’d never reach for something with my palm up as it would show my wrist. Even to this day I still do that. Even blamed the poor cat for the odd one that was accidentally revealed to someone.
I look at my body sometimes and it’s like a map of my past. If you point at a scar I can tell you the events leading up to that scar. Each and every one is a reminder of how far I have come. I haven’t self-harmed in over 12 years. Sometimes I feel like I want to, but I don’t. Not often, but it comes and goes when I get very down and stressed. I have learned healthier ways to manage my depression and anxiety though lost of self exploration, therapy, medication and help from certain individuals in my life. Some were fleeting characters, some were life long friends. I feel very split about my past. It’s a big part of me and each scar is a story of my life and what I’ve gone through to get where I am today. I would be lying if I said I’m totally open about my mental health journey. I still fear being judged by others. I still feel shame to a certain extent.
In an ideal world I would not have to hide my scars. I’m working on it. One day I will wear them with pride. Each one made me the person I am today. It’s been a long and heartbreaking road. I’ve learned so much about myself and what I am capable of.
One thing I want to end on is that if you are reading this and you are in a dark place – don’t give in. It doesn’t feel like it now and maybe it will take years, but you WILL come out the other end one day. Don’t feel ashamed to say “I need to talk”, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
We all need a little help sometimes. Reach out to someone you trust, be that a friend, family member or your GP.