It’s still hard to share this part of my story and I have written it several times, but I know someone needs to hear it and I know I must free myself from holding onto it…
My personal story with self-harm began at age 6. Most people wouldn’t think a 6 yr. old would think about harming themselves. I can remember standing next to the dishwasher and grabbing a knife then turning it towards my abdomen feeling both scared and confused. I didn’t know why I wanted to hurt myself or even potentially die, I just needed to feel better than I did. Now, skip ahead to age 10 and I stood atop a bridge wanting to leap off…I didn’t clearly, but it was thanks to a friend who insisted I come down and to “stop messing around.” It wasn’t messing around to me, I had this deep overwhelming emotional pain and didn’t understand why I was so sad. After several suicide attempts in my teen years I did successfully attempt suicide only to be pulled down from a hanging rope and saved last minute.
The pain didn’t stop there, and with a family constantly in strife, I had no one I felt I could turn to. I met this girl at age 19 that had struggled with self-harm in form of cutting, and she taught me every trick I would need to effectively sabotage myself for 2 years. Even though she went to treatment and she stopped, that didn’t stop me from doing it. I was determined not to feel this wrenching pain, I wanted the pain to end and to feel like I belonged somewhere. At the time, I knew I would eventually kill myself and then I’d be okay. Little did I know I would find that place I belonged, want to live, and go on to become a teen self-esteem expert that would be helping teens just like I was…to be that Someone that Cares when I needed someone so desperately.
There are many misunderstandings regarding mental health and it causes many people to hide their feelings for fear of judgment and shame. These misconceptions exist with nearly every facet of life, but mental health continues to be an issue and the direct connection to self-harm needs more attention and understanding. My goal with The Someone Cares Campaign and through sharing my story through my book and here is: that I can perhaps help even one person who feels alone or is struggling with self-harm or feelings of overwhelming sadness/depression to know they are not alone as well as help others gain a new perspective on self-harm/cutting/suicide attempts.
Many believe self-harm is attention-seeking behavior but that is a misunderstanding of what is very personal and some keep very private. Cutting can be attention-seeking but not in the way people think about attention seeking. See most people think attention seeking is like wearing funky clothes, or selfies, or a drama queen. People that cut or hurt themselves actually feel alone and scared and need someone to pay attention in a very different way…Someone to listen and Care. These people are seeking attention to their pain and suffering not to the action they chose to deal with it. Also, not every one that self-harms is necessarily suicidal. In my case self-harm thoughts increased my guilt and grew into a desire to commit and suicidal thoughts, but most of the time self-harm is used as a coping mechanism, unhealthy albeit, they cope.
Teenagers that self-harm are nothing new but this unhealthy coping mechanism will continue into adulthood, left untreated or replaced by healthy coping. It can become addictive because of the endorphin release and can be just as hard to stop as any other addictive behavior. In my case, I was also drinking heavily and was cutting once I was inebriated. Thus, you cannot tell someone to stop, the person needs a qualified professional to help, but not just any professional, one that Cares and will not just give them a diagnosis and a pill. Talk therapy is in fact one of the best methods for self-harmers because it opens the dialogue to express what they are feeling inside and having someone understand that begins a healing process for the inner victim.
It wasn’t until I was nearly 30 and 5 years of talk therapy that I finally felt human and happy and felt safe to open up about what I went through. Before that, I was still hiding in the shadows feeling like I was being judged by society and anyone I told about my self-harm history. I have not intentionally self-harmed since I was 22 I did have one relapse at 26 that was a due to being around those who originally inflicted early pain. Through therapy, help from friends, mentors and the desire to be happy I no longer self-harm or think of self-harm. I received graduate level education and degrees in adolescent psychology that poise me to help and understand my past as well as helping others overcome their battle.
If you or your child is suffering with self-harm and would like to schedule one-on-one self-esteem building sessions, please feel free to jump over to http://dreamthis.org/self-esteem.html for a FREE Self-Esteem Checklist and more!
(We are not a substitute for a licensed counselor, however, we do work alongside therapists to complement work done in therapy as well as additional follow-up between sessions.)
My e-book is available on Amazon is a great read for anyone who feels alone or stuck in their story. Available HERE
Resources for immediate assistance or time of crisis:
- Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741
- 7 Cups of Tea: Chat online
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)