Monday, 27 March 2017

The most taboo symptom of mental illness?

*TRIGGER WARNING* - discussion of self harm 

Arguably the most taboo symptom of mental illness, self harm is very real and can be very dangerous if it gets out of hand. This is not something I enjoy talking about or addressing but someone has to.

I had my first experience of self harm when I was 16, I was in a bad place and I wasn’t even sure what I was doing. I don’t think I expected it to help in any way, and I don’t think it actually did to begin with, it was just something I did. It wasn’t long before it became a part of my daily routine, and suddenly without realising it became an addiction. I'm embarrassed to say it was something I did once, twice, sometimes three times a day - whenever I could get the chance. It got to the point where I was sneaking off from class to the toilets to do it, it was already getting way out of control.

For the next few years I dealt with it most days. I would go through 'phases', there would be months when I wouldn't do it even once, and then in the next month it would be every day. I could never explain that.
There was a point when it was very minimal, I would even have considered myself as a 'recovered self harmer' (I hate the terms 'recovered' and 'self harmer' but I don't know how else to describe it). Of course, like any addiction there were urges that were for the most part kept under control, and of course the odd slip up every so often, but I was proud and even almost scar free.
As I spoke about in my last post, it was when I moved to university that the habit crept back in and I was entering the cycle again. It was a few months after leaving university that I had to take myself to A&E due to self harm, from then on the cuts were becoming more severe and a few times since then I have received stitches and been glued up, which I am so ashamed of.

As for now, its still something I struggle with and is very much a huge part of my life, but I feel like I'm getting better at using the energy in other ways. I'm doing my best to move on from this part of my life and hope that one day I will look back and be proud of myself for overcoming it.

Self harm is nothing to be ashamed of, and no one should be afraid to talk about it. It’s a tricky subject, I agree, but the more we talk about it the less stigma there will be. People who self harm are often called names like 'emo' or 'attention seeker' by people who just simply don't understand, it is also a common misunderstanding that only young girls self harm. Men, women, boys, girls, adults, teenagers, children, mums and dads, anyone can be affected, and everyone deserves respect and people to realise that it IS real and that they can be helped. People who suffer in this way aren't 'freaks', they have just reached a brick wall in their life and have resorted to hurting themselves to get by which is so sad.

One day I would hope that we can be open and honest about these kinds of issues without even a second thought, but for now, all we can do is keep talking about them and helping so many people know that they are not alone.

Some helpful websites:

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