Tasha* started self-harming when she was about 15-years-old, as she took a key to her lower arm and created a short scratch. She doesn’t remember exactly what triggered it, but she remembers having feelings of anger and a desire to see a scar – “I wanted to see if I had the ability to make myself bleed,” she said.
Self-harm wasn’t something that Tasha initially thought about, but she became more aware of it when she realised that her sister was self-harming. Tasha said: “It upset me, because I didn’t want her to hurt herself… I didn’t want her to have issues.”
Despite self-harm becoming something that annoyed Tasha, she later turned to self-harm because she didn’t care about herself – “In the beginning, it was about not liking myself. I felt stupid, I felt unattractive and I felt fat, and no one liked me.” The fact that she didn’t care about herself made her feel that there was nothing wrong with carrying out the act, although she couldn’t stand to see her sister hurting herself. In Tasha’s eyes, self-harm was an accomplishment rather than an issue, as well as being a way to get the attention of someone else.
“I’m not really in touch with my emotions… I don’t really have a lot of logical thinking as to what I do,” said Tasha. She felt more motivated to self-harm just because she could, rather than being motivated by her feelings of hurt and pain. However, Tasha saw it as a way of expressing pent-up anger and punishing herself for when she did things that she didn’t like.
In Tasha’s opinion, self-harm was not a “bad way” of releasing anger, because she did not have to clean up anything and she did not view it as dangerous, yet she did not want her scars to be seen. She would self-harm on her wrist, her upper and lower arms, her hip, leg and lip by using anything sharp that belonged to her, including her nails, a bookmark, keys and a cuticle knife – “I wanted to use something that was my own.”
There was a sense of self-denial, as Tasha did not feel that she needed help, because she believed that self-harm was not an issue. Tasha felt that self-harm wasn’t an extreme measure compared to what she wanted to do, as she originally wanted to use a knife to a bigger degree, even though that would still be considered a method of self-harm.
Nevertheless, Tasha was able to stop self-harming about a year ago. She doesn’t know why she was able to put a stop to it with such ease, but she knew that it felt a bit hypocritical because she didn’t want her sister to self-harm. Tasha also expressed that she can’t be bothered to self-harm anymore, “as it takes long to heal and [she] knows it’s bad”.
Now she only wants to express her anger by grabbing grass, sand or dirt – and sometimes she feels like screaming – but unfortunately she is not doing any of these things, which means that she is not actually releasing her anger. However, Tasha still thinks about self-harming, but she won’t do it because she only thinks about taking it to a more extreme level.
“Maybe it was pointless… [as]… it didn’t make me feel better,” Tasha said. To her, cutting and on the one occasion when she took an overdose of pills felt stupid, extra and unnecessary – “I [thought it was] stupid, because it just [didn’t] feel real… It feels like it should [have been] part of a programme.” Tasha thought that nothing ever felt real and she did not think that taking the pills was anything serious – “It was just egging attention, because nothing really bad ever happened to me and no one ever felt sorry for me.” There was also the issue of always having to lie and come up with a story as to why something happened, which annoyed Tasha, especially as she doesn’t like questions.
Although Tasha felt that self-harming was pointless, there did seem to be a point behind it. Tasha said: “It was me hurting myself instead of others, so it was easier, because I was in control.” She also had no self-esteem or self-confidence (although these have improved a little over time). However, Tasha simply does not care to self-harm anymore after realising that it was never the solution to making herself feel better.
*not her real name