Self-harm. It is a topic not often talked about and too often misunderstood. There is the version of self-harm that we all struggle with in our minds, at some point of our lives or another. How we play our own worst enemy, belittling our self-worth and robbing ourselves of joy, but for some, sometimes that pain that we feel leads us to physically harm ourselves.
As someone who unfortunately struggled with it for years, I can tell you the few instances where my wounds were unintentionally revealed, I was teased: one person said I looked like I was attacked by an animal and others claimed that I was pathetically crying out for help as they mocked me and threw their heads back to laugh. For some, sometimes it is a cry out for help, because maybe words fail at bringing the intervention—the rescue—we so desperately need, or maybe we couldn’t even find the words to say or the person to safely say them to. Speaking from experience, sometimes it was that the pain I felt inside swelled up to the point of being unbearable and self-harm seemed like the only way to cope and quiet the pain, if only for a brief moment in time.
Whatever the cause, I am here to tell you what it took me FAR too long to realize: You do not need to be one more person who hurts you.
When life seems to turn against us, when it seems as though the world’s axis has shifted ever so slightly and everything in our lives has turned completely upside down, if no one is standing with you, you deserve to be the one person standing up for yourself. You see, even though self-harm seemed to make me numb to the emotional pain that numbness was so fleeting. Maybe I would finally go to sleep, exhausted from the intense emotions surging within, but then I would wake up and there it was again, the severe depression I was trying to mask. I couldn’t escape it any longer by covering it up with something else. I began my day and whether it was the issues at home (my bipolar schizophrenic father,) or the issues at school (people threatening to jump me,) all of the things that lead me to want to self-harm were unresolved and the pain swelled within me once more. It was only a matter of time before the cycle came full circle and I found myself lying on the floor, desperate for a way to make it dull once more. The sad reality was, the wounds hadn’t even fully healed before I found myself adding new ones.
Self-harm is not a temporary “solution.” It pulls us furthest away from one. By resorting to silencing the emotional pain by inflicting physical pain, we not only harm ourselves in the physical sense, but the emotional scars that we are inflicting take far longer to heal than the ones you can see on our skin. After our physical scars have healed and somewhat faded, there is the emotional damage of us just being another person that hurts us.
It is unreal to think of the age it started for me: 13. To see those numbers sitting in black as I write this, I am speechless to realize how young I truly was, yet how much pain I already seemed to be wrestling. The cycle of self-harm looped ceaselessly throughout middle and high school. I didn’t fully break the cycle until college when I reached out and sought the professional guidance that I needed to find the right ways to manage the pain and then to overcome it entirely.
I needed to find healthy coping methods to combat the situations and emotions that snowballed to the point of leading me to do it in the first place. Once I finally realized that self-harm lead me to slip deeper into depression and the temporary numbness equaled more sorrow once it lifted, I saw that there truly was no other way but to equip myself with the strategies I needed to shatter the cycle entirely. Since I had resorted to the horrible habit for so many years, when something did go wrong it sometimes triggered the thoughts of doing it again. But, every time I decided to choose a healthier coping method I saw personal growth and felt the depression finally begin to dissolve.
The sooner we stand up for ourselves and say we will not be one more person that causes us pain, the sooner we can start to heal the real wounds that lead us to cause the physical ones. Those internal scars that only we can see but leave such a devastating mark on our hearts. As someone who struggled with it for far too long, I ask anyone who struggles with it today to decide that that last time you did it was indeed the last time. Add the right coping methods to your armory to say these wounds will be cared for and healed for good. You are beyond worth it.
*Editors note: If you or someone you know is struggling with self-harm please click here for more resources.
Guest Blogger: Brandi Fox
I am an artist and writer at heart, currently enjoying the greatest adventure of my life as a stay-at-home-mom of two boys. I studied creative writing and studio art in college, and I have dreams of publishing fiction stories, showing fine art in galleries, and making a difference in the world by working with nonprofit organizations that focus on human rights activism.
I created my blog “The Pixelated Fox” to share my testimony in hopes it will shine a light for anyone struggling in darkness, to chart my journey and discoveries in this cultivating season of motherhood, and to share ways to live with a positive and joyful spirit. I find great fulfillment when I use my passion for writing to lift up others to realize their immeasurable worth and their hidden strength to overcome any obstacle they feel oppressed by.