As today is Self Harm Awareness Day I thought I would share my experiences.

I was aware of depression and self harm as a friend’s sister was suffering badly and actually killed herself when we were 11 (her sister was 15) and at the time I couldn’t understand how anyone could do that and thought I never would be able to.

I first started self harming when I was 16, I knew something was wrong with how I felt, I tried to talk to people but I was always known for always being happy, never complaining so no one really took me seriously. I don’t really remember what made me do it the first time but I felt a horrible emptiness inside. I was disgusted with myself. I was worthless. I deserved to be in pain. I needed to feel something.

I would not advocate it to anyone but to me, at the time it helped. I needed to feel it, the initial cut, the hot feeling on my arm, the blood coming out and cooling it slightly. It calmed me down. It reassured me that I was causing myself pain. 

It was something I kept to myself for a year until it was no longer bearable in any way and I felt like I was so close to going further. I confided in a close friend and from there I began my journey into the world of mental healthcare. Obviously all the mental health care workers discouraged it, giving me suggestions as to use ice as this could give the same effect (it didn’t). 

I could never cut myself in front of people and have been incredibly ashamed of it (although I don’t think anyone should be) and hid it from everyone. My bf at Uni helped me by telling me if I had to do it to do it in front of him so he could keep an eye on me – I gave up for quite a while as I didn’t want to let him down. There was also a particuarly horrific group therapy session I attended where the boy next to me cut himself in the session, this again made me stop for a while.

I continued to self harm on and off for the next 6 years or so, even after I felt “better” when things got stressful I remembered the release and rush I felt when I cut my arm. It had become an addiction. I kept my cuts clean, in the end it became purely a release mechanism rather than causing myself pain.

I became very good at hiding my cuts as most people do.

When my depression and anxiety reared its ugly head again last year I automatically went to cut, but I found it didn’t provide the release I needed. I tried it a second time but again nothing. I was disappointed in a way that I couldn’t get the release when I needed it and have struggled to find anything that helps me when I am incredibly anxious or down but I know I am the better for it.

There are so many more advances out there now though, if had existed back then or some of the other charities and places that have become more well known to me over the years maybe I would have chosen a different route.

I’m pleased that I can now talk about this openly and hope others soon can so that it can be a discussion held between two people as commonly as giving advice for preventing a cold.

I hope the day has raised awareness to more people and the Time to Talk campaign gets people to open up to help remove any stigma and let people know there are people out there to help.