I wear many hats – nursing, teaching, self-injury
I wear many hats. At least metaphorical hats.
Actual hats don’t go with my hair.
I am a person who used to cut. Never say never, but I hope not to have to do it again.
I am a person that nursed those who self-injured. My clinical practice areas included in-patient settings, community settings and crisis work; so a varied range of people in a varied range of situations.
I am a person that now teaches mental health students.
I am a person that researches the topic of self-harm, looking at literature from across the world and spanning decades to try to glean insight and ideas about how best to help the nurses to support their service users.
I am a person that is passionate about seeing self-injury for what it is. Not manipulation, not attention-seeking… But rather a means of communication, a method of coping and surviving, an aspect of behaviours that sometimes we share, and sometimes we cover up.
I am person that sometimes meanders her way through a Word document, writing on a topic about which she knows too much and not nearly enough.
I am honest with my students. Some have asked about my scars, which I do not hide.
I am honest with my colleagues because it is helpful for them to have someone to have courageous conversations with on this topic.
I do not pretend to represent every person that has harmed – what brought me here, what sustained it, how I managed that, how I came out the other side – these are all aspects of an individualised story.
But I can bring insight. And empathy. And some amount of understanding. To those who self-harm, those who teach future nurses, and those nurses-to-be.
I write this because we all wear many hats. Metaphorical or otherwise.
We all bring a multitude of experiences to our everyday interactions; we are all more than the sum of our parts. We are all more than the labels heaped upon us.
For those that do want to help, please look beyond what can sometimes feel like a shocking violation of a body by the person that owns it, and listen, really listen to their story. Help them articulate it if they don’t have the skill, motivation, or wherewithal to do it alone.
Far preferable to be able to talk these things through rather than sketch them onto our bodies. But first, we need to have faith that you hear the words when we do say them. That you will help us say those words when we feel brave enough to let them out.