Self Harm: The Story of a Survivor

From self-harm to self expression..

Jenny X (pseudonym for her privacy) shares her journey with self harm, and how she has managed this compulsion that is so commonly kept in secret.

Please note that this article does not constitute professional medical or psychological advice.

Why she harmed herself

In her words, "I self harmed as a release. Cutting arms, legs, and scratching at my face until I drew blood was a way of screaming out without making any noise.

I struggled so much to communicate who I was, what I felt, what I believed in, so I would do as I was told and aim always to please people without ever standing up for what I believed in. I didn't even know what I believed in. I was trapped inside myself and hated myself for not being able to speak up. Cutting myself released this anger that I felt towards myself."

Her journey with self harm

She started scratching herself as a teenager, using items from her pencil case to lightly scratch herself until she drew blood, and enjoyed the feeling of release this had. She scratched herself into her university years. After she graduated university, she decided to have more of a voice and be more of herself. 

"It never went away completely. But it got less and less. I met my now husband at university and I opened up to him." She notes how his support was helpful and enabled her to find other ways to express her anger, but scratching remained a coping mechanism for her in times of stress.

Her turning point

"The turning point came when things got so bad and I scratched at my face until my cheeks bled." She was living with the man who is now her husband, and "hated" herself for liking the attention of another man from her job.  

"Somehow in my mind, self-harm was the way to control this, perhaps punish myself.

I'm not sure why, but cutting my arms wasn't enough for this." She repeatedly scratched her face until it bled. Her husband found her, stopped her and made her promise to seek professional help, which she did.

The professional who saw her surprisingly told her that her wounds were not deep enough to warrant help. At that point, something changed for Jenny. "I found a way to control my urge to harm myself and instead I spoke out more and told people what I was feeling instead of bottling it up." She realized that she was the only person who could change her actions, and that she was in control. She embraces that message daily.

"My self hate disappeared when I started allowing myself to be seen and heard for being me."

The hardest part of handling the urge to self harm

The hardest part of dealing with this urge for Jenny has been managing triggers so that she does not go back to her old ways of handling anger by harming herself. She states that self harm for her can be like an addiction.

The most helpful piece in managing self harm

Jenny notes that her husband and his support has been the most helpful part of her journey recovering from self harm. Social support is key, particularly from a spouse.

She also notes that she stopped harming herself all together when she started her business, which has been perhaps her biggest form of self-expression.

Jenny's advice if you are struggling with self harm

"My advice to anyone struggling with this is to come to the realization that this is YOU, you get to decide what you do. Everything you want is waiting for you when you stop hating yourself and start letting yourself be you. You get to chose how you react to things. Shout and scream out loud, get your feelings out of you, don't hold it in, keeping it in keeps you trapped.

Just make a promise to yourself today to be more you."

Continue Reading