‘What’s that?’ he asked, pointing to the long scars on my leg.
They would usually be covered by clothing but on a day like today when the sun was out brilliantly, I donned a short dress.
‘I’d rather not talk about it’ I replied.
He didn’t ask again, though occasionally I could see his eyes secretly stealing a glance.
He was kind, compared to other acquaintances who have pressed me for answers.
I’ve avoided bringing this up for a long time but I wanted to raise the issue and question of what it is to self harm.
It is even more difficult for me because where I come from there is such stigma attached to mental illness, but I was encouraged by fellow blogger who pens the regular More than Skin Deep blog. At 16 when I first noticed my friend with bandages on her arm, I questioned it. After she brushed it off I left it alone but the concern never left me.
Why does no one ever talk about self harming?
On a basic level, self harm happens when you hurt yourself. This includes overdosing, cutting, banging yourself against something hard, sticking yourself…
I never thought of alcoholism as self harming. But as I started to drink more and more, I realised it was just that. It was only a more socially accepted way of harming myself. How does that help? I started eating more than my stomach could manage with gastritis, and I developed an eating disorder. How is that different from cutting?
I never thought this would be me. But I think struggling to manage severe depression caused it for me. I learnt firsthand that people self harm as a coping mechanism.
The scars on my leg came about at a time when I was overwhelmed by depression and anxiety. I’d felt my depression was so consuming that to avoid doing something more permanent I needed a distraction: Edgy pain that would take me away from the hollowness inside me. I cut my legs. One long line after the other, in a row. The last cut being the deepest. At hospital, nurses kept asking all aghast ‘what happened to you?’
I broke down everytime.
But I welcomed the pain. It took my focus away from the deeper, bigger pains that were enveloping my life.
I never wanted this. You must try to understand.
In the same way I thought this would never be me as I looked on at my friend, you must know, that you ever know what tomorrow might bring. Do not judge me. Understand. We must help eachother, and be our sister’s and brother’s keeper.
Some pains are hard to bear. But we don’t have to walk the road alone.
Gentle hugs 🙂