Just attention seeking

There are loads of ways to get attention, it’s pretty easy. Self-injury isn’t about that.

I used to have purple dreadlocks, walk around town in a long Doctor Who scarf and read people’s auras at parties. And my real name is Wedge. Getting attention was easy.

My self-injury was completely private. It was a secret from even my closest friends.

Self-injury may well be an indicator that a person actually needs attention – that is, help and support; but scratching, pricking, picking, branding, burning, banging, bruising, biting and cutting are not done to get attention, they’re done to cope with overwhelming emotional distress and acute stress, or to manage anxiety or depression (and related illnesses).

I felt ashamed of my mental health struggles; I didn’t understand why I felt the way I did or why I acted the way I did. I didn’t want my friends to think badly of my, especially as many of them thought (I assume) that I was a good guy to talk to, and quite fun in most ways. I didn’t want to push any of my friends away – I desperately needed them in my life. I knew of no help or support that was available to me. It took me years to think of going to my doctor. So I hid my depression as best I could, and I managed my anxiety as best I could – I drove my feelings deep down and relied on self-injury for relief and release.

I didn’t feel I was allowed to express my sadness, my confusion, my despair. I found that self-expression was incredibly important for my health and happiness, and I expressed my identity as best I could through the development of my artistic, writing and inter-personal skills, as well as the more facile avenues of dress and personal style. My only outlet for my emotional turbulence (I felt) was my private act of self-injury.

Oh, and if you have purple dreadlocks, piercings, a Lamborghini, a trench coat, a three-piece suit, or walk with an umbrella on sunny days – in no way do I imply that your self-expression is attention seeking. I salute your style. I have a fedora in my wardrobe that I don’t wear because I’m afraid of what people will think – so it’s me that still needs the confidence boost.

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