Updated: Nov 1, 2022
Let’s talk self harm. I think this has been my hardest post so far. Strictly because this is the least talked about aspect of mental health. Self care is glamorized and we’re progressing on normalizing anxiety but the heavy side of mental health is still very much stigmatized. It’s not that I’m afraid of being judged so much as it still feels foreign to be so open about these topics, especially this one.
For over 12 years I have struggled with self harm. It started when I was 16 and I felt I had very little control over my life. I grew up in a very strict and unhealthy environment. I was punished for things I didn’t understand. I had very little say in how I could act, dress and what beliefs I was allowed to have. Self harm was a release for me. It was a way of taking back my power and also created a diversion for the pain. It was something I knew little about at the time. I knew it wasn’t right. I knew I felt embarrassed and ashamed of the scars but I didn’t know how to stop. Similar to any other addiction, it was a cycle that was very hard to break. I started with burning my wrists then years passed and I began to cut more & more severely. I got this tattoo on my wrist to cover the majority of my scars. It reads “Strength is what we gain from the madness we survive” I remember crying during the entire tattoo session. For the first time I actually felt confident wearing short sleeves. I felt confident I had overcome self harm once and for all.
Months passed and I had a bad break down, one of the worst ones yet. I was drunk and high so I couldn’t feel pain. I cut my wrist deep and left the big scar that is so obvious in this picture. I was devastated that I had relapsed but that I had “ruined” my fresh start. My new tattoo that represented the pain I had survived. It took me months to wear short sleeves again. I actually fabricated a whole story as to how I got this scar because it was noticeable enough that sometimes people seen it. A few years ago I looked into having it surgically removed but at the time the cost was too high and it wasn’t in the budget for me. Truthfully, now I wouldn’t have it removed. I’ve grown to accept this scar and the others I have as proof that there were moments I didn’t think I would make it. Moments where I didn’t want it to make it, but I did. Proof that I’m stronger than all my weak moments. Proof that my worth is not defined by my struggles or my scars.
It’s been a little over a year since I’ve self harmed. I’m proud of my growth but if I’m honest it’s still something that pops into my head when I’m in a BPD episode and the pain is so intense. It’s hard to know where to put the level of pain I am able to feel because of this disorder. In these moments I remind myself that the pain isn’t permanent but the scar I would have from self harming is. I remind myself that part of growing means I need to sit with discomfort instead of trying to suppress it. That is how we heal from some of our most painful moments.
This post is meant to alleviate some of the stigma surrounding self harm. Self harm is a very big part of struggling from mental illness, trauma or suffering from chronic pain. It is probably more common than you think. Society just doesn’t like discussing the dark sides of mental illness. I’m trying very hard to break that. If you or someone you know struggles from this please know that I understand it. I don’t judge you. You’re not alone. You’re still worthy and there is hope for recovery. Your scars are a reminder that you have made it through dark times. A reminder that you are fighting to live. If you or someone you know could benefit from reading this I encourage you to share. Let’s break the stigma surrounding self harm by discussing our struggles more openly.
Here are a list of mental health emergency numbers if you are struggling & need someone to talk to.
Canada Suicide Prevention 1-833-456-4566
Canadian Mental Health Association 416-646-5557
National Eating Disorder Information Centre 1-866-633-4220
Canada Drug Rehab Addiction Services 1-888-245-6887
Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868
First Nations and Inuit Wellness Help Line 1‑855‑242-3310
Transgender Crisis Line 1-877-330-6366
If anyone has any questions regarding this topic, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Thank you for reading,