I remember being in my early teenage years and feeling sick and tired of the pain that I was suffering at the hands of someone that cared about – along with his friends to back him up. I’d already had others who had hurt me. There had already been a number of times when I’d wanted to die. And my self-esteem was already at a low.
All of those factors probably contributed to that one moment, when I grabbed the first sharp object that I could find in a bid to ease the pain. I took the jagged key in my hand and raised it to my arm, tearing it through my skin to reveal red, raised marks. It didn’t do much damage and I was only left with a few basic scratches, but the release in that moment felt great and I found myself eventually smiling through the tears.
Decreasing confidence, lowering self-esteem and increased sensitivity left me vulnerable, which led to me cutting whenever I felt really hurt and angry. It was like I was letting out all of those negative emotions on myself, as I felt a great sense of relief in those few minutes. In my desperation, I would grab whatever I could – I was willing to run the risk of blood poisoning by using a rusty nail to create the scars I needed to badly.
However, I felt that I needed to create deeper and more prominent scars, so I began using scissors and a utility knife to get it done. I had to see white flesh and oozing red blood to feel that I was self-harming properly, as there were times when it felt that it was the only thing I could get right.
In the moment, cutting my arm felt so good and I could feel the release of emotional anguish. However, my scars soon felt sore and all I could think about was the cause of those scars, which had the ability of making me feel worse. I didn’t want to tell anyone though, so I would suffer in silence and try to cover up my arms with long sleeves, but it could not escape my sister’s sharp eyes.
My sister eventually confronted me and I assured her that I would stop, but I had no right to assure her of anything. Although I would stop for a while (and also make myself believe that I had stopped), I would eventually start the cutting process all over again.
My scars would get lower and lower down my arm, eventually reaching the wrist area. I was comfortable with cutting on my shoulder, so I don’t know why I started to cut on my lower arm – perhaps it was my way of making a cry for help. Nevertheless, the time came when I was finally able to see that I needed help and I actually wanted to get help, so I went to see a counsellor. It was good for me to talk things through and get to the root of some of my problems, as it went a lot deeper than self-harm.
After a period of years of self-harming, I eventually did stop a few years back, despite getting the urge to do it every now and again. However, I no longer get those feelings and self-harm is definitely not an option anymore. Sometimes I want to throw things or punch a wall or smash plates, but I never want to intentionally harm myself. I am happier within myself and most of all, I have God on my side – I know that if it wasn’t for Him in my life, I would definitely still be self-harming.
Initially, I did not want to share my story; in fact, there was no way that I wanted to admit that I self-harm and it was always something that I shied away from, because I was too ashamed and afraid of what everyone would think or say. So many individuals look down on those who self-harm and treat them as if they are stupid, which comes down to a lack of understanding. However, at the end of the day, self-harm happens and we need to acknowledge it so that others will come forward to get help.
I can stand and say that I am a previous self-harmer, who continues to struggle with the issue of low self-esteem, and I want others to know that they are not alone. I just hope that by telling my story, it will encourage at least one person to tell theirs or get the help that they need.