Self-harm. It’s a taboo subject, one which we never talk about. For some reason when you bring it up in conversation people seem to wince and change the subject. In 2016 30% of young autistic people struggled with self-harm within the UK. Statistics like that don’t surprise me as much as they should, why? Because I was once one of those young people and maybe if people spoke about it that wouldn’t have been the case.
It’s been approximately a year since I last self-harmed. One of the longest periods of time for me since I first did it at the age of 14. Honestly, I’ve never spoken about my struggles with it publicly before. In speaking out about such a taboo subject on this blog, I’m hoping it helps at least one person out there, I know that by typing this I’m already helping myself. Speaking openly about problems helps, so this is what I’m doing. If you’re triggered easily, I probably wouldn’t read on if I were you. The last thing I want to do with this is to trigger someone.
Some of you who follow me on social media may know, I didn’t have the best start in life, to say the least. My mother is very mentally ill (bipolar to be exact), it was for this reason I first encountered self-harm. I was approximately 8 years old when I first saw scars and questioned them. Understandably, she made excuses and didn’t tell me what they were.
However, I cannot help but feel like if my Mum had been honest with me that day, what happened in the next few years wouldn’t have happened. That’s why if children ask about why I have my tattoo in the place I do, I’m honest. I say that I was once silly and did some silly things to myself. I urge you to do the same. You could make a difference to a young person’s life by doing so.
A few years passed, and I was doing what normal teenagers do: Listening to My Chemical Romance too loudly and wearing too much eyeliner. Basically, I seemed to fall into the ‘emo’ subculture without even realising it. This in itself was a large factor in why I first picked up that blade in the first place and injured myself. Back in 2010, self-harm was very glamorised by many people I looked up to. Musicians, Friends and television shows glamorised it.
Young and impressionable me thought I needed to do it to fit in. Let me tell you this now. I was wrong. Never, ever hurt yourself to impress someone, or because you feel like you need to in order to fit in. Those aren’t the sort of people you need in your life, no matter how much you like them at that moment.
This continued for a few years, I continued to self-harm to fit in, and for reasons, I thought were valid, but looking back on it, weren’t very valid at all.
At the age of 16, my self-harm took a more self-destructive turn. I started experimenting with alcohol. I didn’t think this was a form of harming myself at the time, but now I think about it, it was. I’d go out to parties and drink so much I couldn’t remember the night, I’d do this in fields and parks as well.
Drinking excessively at such a young age is a form of self-harm. It made my mental health worse and I eventually got asked to leave college because I was drinking so much. I used to take it into college with me and get drunk in lessons to cope with the work. Now I’m older and I have support, I realise that this was a bad decision. It took me a long while to get out of the habit of drinking every day. It’s something I’ve never spoken about before, not even with my close friends that didn’t know me back then.
However, it’s important that I mention it in this blog, as it is a form of self-harm. A lesser known one, but self-harm nonetheless. If you have a loved one who has a drinking problem, reach out to them. talk to them and don’t encourage it.
Unfortunately, until the age of 17, I didn’t have these people in my life. I was lucky to get myself out of it. And again, I feel like if anyone close to me had realised that I had a problem, I would probably be a totally different person now. This is also the reason why I hardly ever drink. I never want to fall into such a dark, hazy state ever again.
From the ages of 17 to 21. I didn’t actively self-harm. This was because I got therapy, and I started proper antidepressants, that actually worked for a while. However, eventually things got the better of me, and I gave in to the impulses.
I was 21. I was an adult and I was ashamed. Nobody realised that I was doing this for a number of months, and those who did put it down to my gender. However, it wasn’t to do with my gender at all. I’m not too sure what it was to do with, but it wasn’t gendered. I’m an impulsive person, and for those 4 years, I just didn’t have the tools to stop myself.
Thankfully, before I could do anything life changing or worse, one of my friends made me go to my GP and discuss it with him. To this day I am thankful that she did that for me, and although she asks me to show her my arms every time I’m low, I know she has the best of intentions, and all she wants to do is help me.
Everybody needs a friend who will support them in going to seek help when they’re struggling with anything, especially self-harm.
You could be that friend to someone. You could change someone’s life by offering to go to a GP appointment with them. Sometimes it’s daunting to go alone, and having someone to hold your hand makes it all so much easier.
That brings us to the present day. Now I’m 23 years old and I’m over a year clean of self-harm. I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t have urges almost nightly because I do.
Sometimes when things get bad, I do have the urges. Now I have the tools and the skills not to give in. Now I know what to do if I have these urges and how to stop them, all thanks to therapy. I’m so proud of myself for overcoming something I never thought I would. I’m not sure whether or not it will be forever. If I do ever relapse again, I know I can get better. I’ll read this back and I’ll know it is possible.
If you need help with Self Harm, please follow these links below to talk to someone: