Talking about self-injury is one of the first steps towards recovery, but it sure ain’t an easy thing to talk about
The following stories may well be triggering for you, they are real words from real people, take care before reading further.
Please note that the copyright of these true stories belongs to the writers, and no permission is given to reproduce these words or quote them in anything, anywhere.
“He’s a friend. We met via the internet. He’s seen my ups and downs on Facebook and I want our friendship to be completely open. To save us both being uncomfortable about my scars I sent him a long message explaining them. He has been great. I can now tell him anything, the good, the bad & the ugly. He knows more about how I feel right now than my therapist does.
“If you’re thinking of telling someone, I would encourage you to do it. The result might not always be positive but it’s worth the risk. I feel like a huge weight has lifted.”
“I went out with my new boyfriend for the second time last night and we were sitting in Nandos and I was getting really hot and he noticed and said “why don’t you take your hoodie off?”. I said that I don’t normally even if I get really hot because its kinda complicated, and he said he wanted to know more.
“So I told him that when I get stressed, angry, upset or any other emotion really, then I hurt myself, and it helps relieve the emotion for a while and makes me feel better.
“Then he just looked at me from across the table said he’ll do all he can to help me fight it, because he knows how hard it is because he went through something similar when he was younger.
“It made me feel so much better knowing I don’t have to hide it from him anymore and its made us even closer :)”
“In the past month I have made my self-injury public through Facebook. I am 35 this month and have got to the stage where I have the confidence to tell the world what I am and to hell with the consequences. Although I have in the region of 260 Facebook ‘friends’ nobody has so far commented on any self harm/this is me statuses I have posted.
“I am still unable to tell my Dad and step-mother (who is ironically a mental health worker). One of my major concerns in ‘coming out’ is that I may be harming my future job prospects.”
“Coming out was one of the best things I could have done, however at first I did find it hard.
I told my best friend first. I’m extremely nervous when it comes to talking, so instead I wrote it down and then she could read it. I was worried that she’d think differently of me, that it would change our friendship, may be that she wouldn’t want to be friends with me.
“We started texting late at night, it distracted me from wanting to self-injure, but also gave her the chance to ask every question possible, even the slightly random ones.
“When I later told my other best friends, I was worried about how they’d react. Some were a bit shocked, another actually came out herself, because I had. I thought they might not like me anymore, or think there was something wrong with me. But they’ve all been really good.
“Coming out means that I can talk about it with people. It’s actually slowed my self-injuring down a lot, and I hope this will continue.”
“Well after 2 years of being a single mum with mental health issues I’ve met a man who understands and accepts me for who I am. From the moment I met him I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. It was on our 3rd date that I told him about my self-harm. He didn’t call me mental or scream and shout at me, he just looked at me and said that he doesn’t judge people.
“We have talked about the self-harm and I still can’t quite put it into words to explain why I did it or what I go from it. It feels amazing to have found someone who loves me and doesn’t judge me and I know he will always support me and my children in any way he can. Finally I am happy :)
“I hope my story goes to show that we can all come out the otherside.”
“I told my friend. I explained that I hurt myself and it helps me cope. I explained that I know that long term it’s not the most healthy strategy to cope, but that right now it helps me get through the stuff I’m dealing with. She seemed to understand. Well, I don’t know if she really understands why it helps but she understands that it does. I was surprised at how well she took it. Made me feel that much closer to her.”
“I had my first “coming out” experience a couple of months ago when I decided to form my arts-based SI awareness group on campus. A friend of mine (who didn’t know I had ever SI’d) encouraged me to start the social action group and came to the first meeting. When the meeting was wrapping up, a member of the group asked me why I was starting this group. I told her the social action class I had taken started to make me become aware of my privileges and so I wanted to do something that I felt was important.
“I guess I could have ended it there, but somehow without thought, I continued and said “I used to SI for 8 years and have been recovered for the past 4. This is just something I’m really passionate about”. She nodded with empathetic eyes and that was that.
“It always seems harder and more revealing than how it actually is. It’s not that I don’t tell people now because I feel like it’s a secret, but rather from that day, I feel like my coming out is assumed through my actions; starting the social action group, raising money for SI treatment, blogging, and even joining the LifeSIGNS support forum. All of it combined makes me feel more open. And maybe one day it will be as easy telling someone as it is telling someone what the weather will be like tomorrow.”
“I am a member of the British Red Cross and throughout the year the centres around the Country are sent “continuation” training modules from our National Headquarters.
“I was asked to deliver the “Mental Health” Module. After looking at it I decided that it was very theoretical with information on some conditions and lots on the sections under the Mental Health Act – quite dry for a training session. I have Cyclothymia and Depression and
“I self harm. So I added a section on Self harm to the training session.
“To involve the members I got them to define several common metal health disorders and then discussed the true meaning of them and their signs and symptoms. I then moved to talk about self-harm, what it meant to them, what is meant by self-harm and what actions are classified as self-harm. I then moved on to talk about my self harm, when I started it, the reasons I do it and allowed the members to ask questions about it.
“To end the sessions I talked about how a person may behave or feel if they had to come to a first aid post for treatment whether it be self inflicted or because of an accident. I also got the members to discuss how they might feel or manage a casualty who has a mental health condition or who has self-harmed.
“I gave the session to two of my local centres and got very positive feedback from both centres. I really enjoyed giving the sessions and think it is important that if a self-harmer can open up about their condition and feelings people around them will be more supportive and more understanding.”
“Although a lot of my friends and family were already aware of my history of self harm, I decided to make a YouTube video for Self Injury Awareness Day this year, and share it with everyone on my Facebook.
“Initially I was nervous about how people would react, but I got very positive feedback from everybody, and was even called a ‘inspirational’ by someone who watched the video! This made me feel much more positive about my experiences, like I’d been “forgiven” and that I have a body of supportive friends behind me if things get bad again!”
“I live in 24hr residential care i’ve been here since leaving hospital 3 years ago. I started self harming just over a yr ago and it is only superfical. It took me awhile before i opened up to my carers as i felt i slipped back by starting to self harm. I have not yet told any family as i do feel they would not understand, im not even sure i do. Everyone has been good although ive never really been asked why.”
“I had to go into school, and I didn’t pay any attention to what I was doing, so when I got to school and went to meet my friends in the usual place, and I sat down and took my coat off, with a strappy top underneath, I got a very mixed response.
“It was fairly obvious I had done it myself. To start with I got a huge hug off of one of my friends, she was so helpful and lovely to me through the whole experience and the year ahead. Then one of my friends took me to the side, she looked so upset, she told me that I shouldn’t do it and I should stop. But the person who was supposed to be my “best friend” did something I still don’t understand…
“About a week later my sister came home and told me that some people had been saying things about me that weren’t very nice. After that it got all around school and people walked past me in the corridors mimicking slicing up their arms. They looked at me as if I was something nasty on the bottom of their shoe. My family were very upset, as you can probably imagine, but they were all extremely supportive.
“When i tell people now I tend to get kinder reactions, maybe because its more understood now. Who knows.”
“Well I wrote a letter to a teacher who I trusted and told them literally how I felt and everything that was on my mind, which maybe wasn’t the greatest way to do it because it kinda spiralled out of my control then. Before I knew it my parents knew, all my other teachers knew and I was being put into counselling. I’m glad I did it kinda, but really it just made me feel worse at the start but now it’s been around 4/5 months and it’s definitely helping, apart from when I slip up, but nothing comes that quickly.
“Now my parents know to watch out for warning signs and i spend mondays and tuesday on a ward and don’t really think about it that much.”
“My parents found out when they found a letter i was sent but they just thought i was suffering from depression they didn’t realise that i selfharm.They still don’t know now, i don’t want to tell them. I don’t know how they would react and i dont want to upset them.
“I told a good friend of mine which [is] now my boyfriend. He took it bad, he gets upset about it and sometimes he even says if u do it again then i don’t know what I’m going to do, meaning he may leave me. He’s been there for me through so much and if he leaves me now i don’t know who i can turn to. He tries to understand but he can’t, i just hope i don’t lose him.
“I hope i get over this, i don’t want to do it for the rest of my life.”
“I have just finished my first year of university, studying medicine. I love uni, don’t get me wrong about that, but being their freed me up, and let me experience the less nice side of my personality. I started cutting myself. A couple of friends at university know, but only a couple.
“One girl, my best friend, she knows it all. I can’t remember how exactly I told her, but she already knew I was on meds for an eating disorder. She was wonderful and very very supportive. I wish all people would respond like that.
“The other person who knows is my eldest sister. After a suicide attempt in March, eveyone kept telling me to tell someone in my family, so as the could ‘keep an eye on me’ during the holidays. Telling her that was the hardest thing, she reacted badly, and now admits that. She just didn’t understand how I could be doing these things to my self, how I could cut, or purge, or take pills. I wished so badly that she would just be my big sister, hug me and tell me it was ok. But it wasn’t. It was like she was a stranger. I could see how badly I had hurt her, but she couldn’t see I was crumbling and hurting so badly. It was at that moment I made the decision that I could not, no way, tell my parents.
“To my parents, I am still the sweet and inocent little child they want me to be. I am the youngest of 3 girls, the baby of the family. I’m the brightest, studying medicine. I am the one the think of as such a good little girl. They have no idea what actually goes through my head. I guess I hide it, but I guess they also don’t want to see it. I can’t tell them, because I can’t destroy their veiw of me as inocent.”
“I’ve only “come out” to two people, the first being one of my friends, and it was kind of an accident. We’d been out for the night and gone back to my house to share a pizza. We were sat on the kitchen floor, and I decided to take my boots off. They were knee high boots so I had to roll up my jeans to unzip them, forgeting that I didn’t have any socks on, so he saw all the cuts and scars on my ankle. At first he couldn’t work out what they were, and when I told him he looked pretty shocked, even though he already knew about the depression etc. He gave me a big hug and told me to promise him I wouldn’t do it again.
“For the first couple of months he was really unhelpful, saying things like “If you do it again I won’t be your friend anymore, so if I mean anything to you you will stop”, and he couldn’t understand why I still did it.
“But over time I have been able to make him see that what I need is someone who will support and accept me no matter what I do. Now I know if I’m feeling low, or have the urge to cut, I can call him and he’ll try to cheer me up, or just give me a big hug and let me cry on his shoulder. I still don’t think he understands why I do it, but I’m glad he knows and that I have someone I can turn to.”
“For me coming out about my self harm wasn’t a choice and although at the time it seemed like the end of the world I soon got used to the idea and actually has made me see that I am not alone in the world, and that what I had done for years was normal and I didnt need to hide from everyone, just those that wouldn’t understand.
“The day that my self injury was discovered and out in the open was a day I remember very clearly, It was Friday and I was at school. I got called up to the head teachers office as I had refused to take my cardigan off in cookery earlier that day. I was so nervous and had a good idea what it was about.. As I got closer I felt worse and I got to the door and chapped it, my heart was pounding and I was sweating.
“The teacher came to the door quickly and she new my name and was expecting me, she invited me in and asked me to take a seat, there was another women in the office to someone I had never met before, she sat there and there was a seat beside her she told me don’t look so worried your not in trouble, I sat down and she explained that she was the educational pyschologist, she explained about what he job was and it was then I was thinking why does she want to see me.
“My head teacher then explained that teachers had expressed there concern to her about my mood swings, and lack of interest in my friends and work. How my work standard had slipped and that I had been withdrawn completly from my friends and how they were worried as someone had noticed some serious marks on my body during gym class and also asked why I wouldnt take off my cardigan for cookery. I was so shocked and lost for words, I sat there and went very red and looked down.
“I am finally getting there, I am still self harming and still seeing a counsellor, pyschiatrist and attending a day centre which I am leaving in couple of weeks to return to school after a year off being off and I’m looking forward to getting back to normal, although its been hard, I think it would have gotten worse and worse if I didnt get found out. I know its not as easy for others when they come out though and thats why im looking forward to next months newsletter to hear other peoples stories.”
“The first person i ever came out to was a good friend of mine, and who was a “bulemic not in recovery” with me at that time. i think all of that gave us a strong sense of intimacy. we both also play pierced (for release and the experience, in the same kind of sense as cutting, not as a fetish) and somehow that made it seem like SI wouldn’t freak her out.
“i basically told her on a impulse. i asked “have u ever known anybody who cut themselves?”
her, hesitantly, “a few….” and i confessed. and she told me that she had done the same thing a few times but that she thought i might need to get help. she tried to be supportive but i think we both felt awkward.. soon after she left town and… i wondered why i had told her.
“my boyfriend guessed and didn’t accept my bullshit excuses- he must have noticed the scars the first time we had sex, he used to trace my scars with his fingers and kiss them- sometimes he would ask me what happened and i would tell him it was a long story, or one of my tales of car accidents and whatnot. and he always just nodded or said “you’ll tell me when your ready” but sometimes he would comment that scars looked like they came from a knife or something. finally one day he asked me if i used to cut myself and i just looked away- and he just said “its okay” and put his hand on my leg.
“i’m glad hes accepting of it, not freaking out, but i also, to some degree, feel like hes not taking seriously this thing that i consider a farily big deal. on the other hand- i cover up recent cuts quite well and make sure he thinks its just something i “used to do”
“i can’t say right now if i’m glad people know. i’m glad my bf knows i used to cut, but i’m also glad he dosen’t know i still do it. R~~~ may have helped me, but at the same time, it changed the balance of power in our relationship. i had been more severely anorexic than her, i was the one giving her sex and relationship advice, i was the one who had come to terms with my sexual identity while she was just beginning to question hers etc- and then this took some of the power and control from me (is that a really defective way to think of a relationship?? *shrug*)
“the people i have told i have told impuslively, when i’m in a self-destructive mood. It was effectively just an aspect of that harmful mentality, like walking through dark allies late at night. it was setting myself up to get hurt, so that i can hurt myself without so much shame.”
We hope these stories have shown the wealth of circumstances that people live with, we hope that you can see that you are not alone