Tag Archives: mental health

Hurting

1 Mar

by Anonymous

Trigger warning for language and depression

MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING FOR SELF-HARM

He was my best friend. The only person who knew every big secret I had…and I had a few. That’s why, when he called me a bitch, I was inclined to believe him. I had always had moderate self-esteem, spurred on by the knowledge that what most people thought about me didn’t really matter. But what he thought mattered. He knew me better than anyone else, so I must be the horrible friend he sees me as.

My chest began to ache. It felt like my insides were boiling, expanding my skin, and the pressure kept building. I was crying so hard, I could barely breathe. My mind was racing: Am I a bitch? Will I ever feel “normal” again? Should I just kill myself now? Would the world be a better place without me?

I didn’t know what to do, so I called my university’s psychiatric crisis line. The process was somewhat convoluted, was conditional on giving my full name (which I was reluctant to do), and was ultimately unsuccessful at providing me with any sense of relief.

Shaking and sobbing into my hands, I figured out that the only way to relieve my emotional torment was through physical pain. Knowing I would have to remain scar-free for my dance class (leotards only), I grabbed the pen cap in front of me, dragging it across my arm as hard as I could. After doing this several times, the pressure in my chest subsided enough to be considered bearable. Satisfied, I used my sleeve to cover the scratches that would fade by morning.

Over time, the pen cap turned into a broken shaving razor, the need for relief melding into the desire to feel anything, as my mind was numbed by depression.

I came to enjoy every aspect of cutting.* Cutting makes me feel better, when nothing else can. I owe my life to it, as it brought me down from the brink of suicide time and time again.

Just knowing you shouldn’t be doing it isn’t a good enough reason to stop. The shame isn’t a good enough reason to stop. Neither is the restriction in clothing or the threat of being found out. The pleas of family and friends aren’t good enough. None of these things is enough of a reason to stop, because I wasn’t cutting because I wanted to. I was cutting because I needed to. None of these things reduces that need.

What does? Love, understanding, coping strategies, therapy, all or none of the above. It depends on the person. For me, my strength is in my faith and in my friends. I know that to God or to my best friend at any time when I feel overwhelmed. Staying on the right medications helps, too. So does knowing that I’m not alone in my struggles.

Almost 3 million Americans are believed to be struggling with self-harm. A vast majority of these people are teenage girls. Studies also show that almost half of those who engage in self-harm have been sexually abused. Self-harm can manifest as cutting, scratching, burning, or hitting oneself or other self-abusive behaviors.

To all those out there who hurt themselves, recognize that it is not a long-term solution to your pain. If you want to deal with your emotional pain, I urge you to seek help. Maybe your parents wouldn’t understand; maybe you feel that you can’t talk to your friends about it. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t love you and want the best for you. If you can get yourself to do it, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.** They’re free, anonymous, and there to help anyone in crisis, regardless of whether or not you are suicidal.

To all those who care for someone who self-harms, be patient and understanding, but also strongly encourage them to seek help. It is a problem and it won’t go away by itself. But do not judge. For those who self-harm, the cutting is the least of their problems. They must challenge the reason they feel that they need to cut. And that is hard and scary as hell. Let them know that you care and are there for them, and then let them know what resources are available to them.

*I want to fully explain why I would cut, but I don’t want to glorify it in any way, so I’ve chosen to leave that out.

**National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

March 1st is National Self-Harm Awareness Day. Spread the word. Spread the love.

One in Ten

10 Oct

*Trigger Warning*: This piece deals with issues of depression, suicide, and self-harm.

by Anonymous

I wrote out my will when I was 10 years old.

I placed it under my pillow each night, praying that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. I would have killed myself already – I thought about it all the time – but I couldn’t figure out how. No guns in the house; all the blades were too dull; nothing to hang myself from; no access to heights.

I had a pretty good life, family and friends, and good grades in school. But I hated living. It consumed me throughout the day and long into the night.

Eventually, my parents noticed something was wrong. I was mopey and pessimistic. So they sat me down and threatened me to snap out of it. After that, I learned not to express my feelings, to keep them inside, and show outwardly only what people wanted to see.

I became broken, stuck with only one visible setting. To others, I seemed to have no problems. I was the perfect daughter, the perfect student. But I was terribly, cruelly alone. I didn’t feel that I had the right to burden someone else with my true feelings. I struggled with my depression, I struggled with my sexuality, and I struggled with my faith.

By the time I went to college, I knew that things had to be different. I began to open up about my faith and sexuality, when I thought that it could improve the quality of my life. I joined clubs. I made friends.

And then, something new happened. I fell in love with those friends, and they came to love me. I became a person that I actually liked. I enjoyed the tasks and activities I was involved in.

But, ever-present, the depression started creeping into my life more and more. This time, though, I didn’t want to die. Or-at least- I didn’t want to want to die. The existence of dear friends in my life led me to seek out help at my university’s counseling center.

While the therapy I engaged in there was intellectually and emotionally stimulating, it wasn’t particularly helpful at keeping my harmful thoughts at bay. I started cutting myself and wearing more modest clothing to cover it up from the observant eyes of coworkers, peers, and friends.

Then, medications came into play, with similar success. When I started openly talking about my plan of killing myself, my therapist called my parents. They wanted to force me into the hospital. Somehow, the counseling center, the school administration, and my parents worked out a plan, such that I could graduate as anticipated. I couldn’t kill myself, but I still cut myself daily.

Only my best friend knew. Even I was surprised that I was able to confide in him.

After graduation, I moved back in with my parents, away from the home I loved so much, back to the home I had fled from just a few years before. Within a week, I tried to hang myself. As fate would have it, my support wouldn’t hold, and I finally allowed myself to enter the hospital.

Two weeks and four medications later, I was released, still having “suicidal ideations” but less likely to act on them. It seems like forever since then, but my doctors and I still haven’t found a medication to help me live a life other than barely functioning but faking it well.

This isn’t a story with a happy ending. This is life with a mental illness. More days than not, it’s a struggle. It’s hard. It’s painful. And for way too many, it’s lonely.

I got help and have a much higher chance at a long life because I had some great friends. They didn’t even know about my depression. Most still don’t know. But I knew that they loved me, and I knew that I wanted to be around to keep on loving them.

So love each other. Care for each other. Listen to each other.

Your friends may not tell you everything they’re going through, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help.

This was written in honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week.

For more information, please visit: nami.org