#ShatteringStigmas Part II: Self Harm & Some Answers

Posted August 23, 2016 by Erica || 6 Comments

by Genesis


Self-Harm is a topic that’s very taboo and every time this word is mentioned, people get very uncomfortable. What people don’t understand it’s that it should be talked about and awareness should be raised about it. Statistics state that one in every two-hundred girls in their teen years’ self-harms. That’s a lot of girls! And it’s not even counting the boys!

The thing is, there are a lot of myths surrounding this specific topic and other things you may not know about this so I’ll try to talk about them as best as I can.

“You self-harm because you want to die.”

This is both true and false. Why is it both? It’s true because there are people all over the word who self-harm and they do want to commit suicide. But there’s a majority of people that self-harm because they just want a coping mechanism. Something that always would frustrate me is how people seem to take “self-harm” as something so creepy or freaky. While yes, it is kind of frightening, it’s an outlet people use, just as alcohol or drugs. Both are damaging your body: alcohol abuse and/or drugs will deteriorate your body inside, whereas self-harm is damaging your body on the outside. Again, it’s a coping mechanism just as any other.

In my personal experience, self-harming became my outlet. Did I want to die? I’ll admit that at times I would think about it and I once tried to commit suicide by drinking lots of pills. But I never related both. I was just going through Major Depression Disorder, which led to very negative thoughts about my life and ultimately suicide. When I realized early on that I did not want to die, I never attempted against my life again, but I did continue to cut myself.

“I’ve seen people make really deep cuts. Does it hurt when they do that?”

Again, it’s both yes and no. For me, it didn’t. You’re probably thinking, “That’s crazy. You’re cutting your body tissue.” The thing is, the emotional pain is unlike any other. It gets to a point where you just become numb. Nothing you do will hurt you. Sometimes I would do it so deep, but I wouldn’t feel anything.

Once I was in remission of the depression, self-harming hurt! I remember being very sad about something and even though it had been a while since I had done it, my mind gravitated towards self-harming. When I cut myself, I realized it hurt so much! I went from crying to laughing in seconds. I could now understand why people asked me if it hurt to cut because they couldn’t imagine doing that to themselves.

“I’m so happy you stopped. Your arms look so much better now.”

A lot of people think that when you don’t have any new cuts on your arms/wrists, it means you have stopped and you’re cured! Unfortunately, that’s not how it is. I even have friends that would cut their ankles and would just wear socks all the time.

My mom went into a crisis when she found out about my self-harm. I’m not kidding. I missed school and she missed work because she cried for 4 hours straight on my shoulder. I didn’t want to keep hurting her, but at the same time, I needed this outlet. I stopped cutting my arms, but I moved down to my hips and thighs. It was there that I took liberties with my cuts. I would carve negative words about myself, such as “worthless”, “fucked up”, “bitch”, “a bother”, etc. Honestly, my thighs were the worst to look at. In the end, I opened up to my aunt and my step-father and later on, my mom. That doesn’t mean I stopped.

“Get your scars removed. You’ll feel so much better.”

When I had recovered, or more like I decided to stop, was when my mom decided that my scars needed to be erased. Most parents want this for their children, so that your skin is brand new again. I remember I went into panic mode. I had grown so used to my scars that I didn’t want them gone. They also served as memory of what I did and what I wouldn’t do again. They showed me I went through a lot and there was no way I was going to part from them. It’s like Papa Roach’s song says, “My scars remind me that the past is real”. Thankfully, my psychologist actually said it would do worse if I got them erased.

What to do when your friend/family self-harms?

Please, don’t force them to talk to you or point out the scars. Don’t even dare say, “It’s been 4 months. I think you should stop now.” It could be years, and you shouldn’t even say that. One thing I do recommend is taking them to a psychologist, even if it has to be force. I didn’t want to visit a doctor, and it took years for me to accept the help. But trust me, it’s worth it.

What you can do is be there for them. When I opened up to my best friend, all she did was hug me. That act alone showed me that she still cared for me and loved me. It got me to open up more to her. Just show support and love. It goes a long way.

helpful information

In case you didn’t know, there is a Self-Injury Awareness Day in March 1st. You can show your support by wearing yellow or orange, tying a ribbon of said colors around your wrist or pinning a ribbon your shirt, and/or write “love” on your wrist.
For more information, here are some resources to get help:

To Write Love On Her Arms (http://www.TWLOHA.com) – A non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

1-800-334-HELP – Self Injury Foundation’s 24-hour national crisis line.

1-800-DON’T-CUT – More information on self-injury/seeking help
You can also find more resources on the HELP section of TWLOHA.

About Genesis

Genesis is a 22-year-old girl who lives in Puerto Rico, an island in the Caribbean. She's obsessed with Instagram and coffee shops. When she's not reading or on social media, she can be found eating, at the beach, being with her boyfriend and/or hanging out with friends.

Gen’s post is very admirable and brave. I think hearing her story was very touching and I think you guys should give her some love in the comments below. Again, thank you Gen for sharing your story!

About Genesis

Genesis is a 22-year-old girl who lives in Puerto Rico, an island in the Caribbean. She’s obsessed with Instagram and coffee shops. When she’s not reading or on social media, she can be found eating, at the beach, being with her boyfriend and/or hanging out with friends.

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6 responses to “#ShatteringStigmas Part II: Self Harm & Some Answers

  1. Genesis, this post is so important and you’re incredibly brave to talk about it so openly. There’s definitely a huge stigma around self-harm — I can’t say I approve of it (not that anyone needs my approval), but I do understand the need to control your own pain, the switch from emotional to physical pain. And you’re right, it’s just like drug/alcohol abuse. I’ve been reading a lot of mental health books in preparation for Shattering Stigmas and I’ve learned a lot more now. Thank you.

  2. Alex

    Hey Gen, I believe we’ve discussed this before or at least about depression and anxiety. I, myself, self-harm. I think the greatest misconception about self harm is that people only believe it’s limited to cutting. I scratch myself with my own nails and go so deep that you can still see the scars from so long ago, I can’t even remember doing it to myself. I think one takeaway that I got from this post is that I need to talk to someone, as in a specialist. I haven’t stopped till this day. Haven’t told my parents. I’ve only told my sister who cries to me but i make her promise not to tell anyone. I will find someone. People just don’t understand. No one in public has ever seen my scars and I think that’s only because i”m good at hiding it. But when I was little, I used to openly try to make people see them so that they’d ask me what was wrong and show me a shred of attention. THey never did. I absolutely love this post and how it’s trying to dispel all the rumors and shit people say about people that self harm. They think they understand. They don’t. When I’m of age, I plan on getting tattoo of a semicolon (apart of the semicolon project) and a butterfly to remind myself that if I hurt myself, I hurt the butterfly as well. I don’t like hurting butterflies.

    Thank you

    Alex @ The Book’s Buzz

    • We have talked about all of this. I think you should tell your parents. Their reaction could be stressful for you, but you have to understand that you’re their little girl and they want to protect you from everything in this world. I never wanted to see a psychologist. I went through 3 of them and 2 psychiatrists. I finally found a psychologist (whom I still visit) that I love. She genuinely cares about my well-being and helped me immensely. If you do visit a psychologist, make sure you’re comfortable and like you can open up. If you can’t, then visit another. Your life goes above anything and if one can’t help you, keep searching. Great psychologists who care are very rare but they exist. Obviously, the first few visits won’t mean you’ll open up quickly. It takes time. I had one psychologist whom I wouldn’t say anything to. I would just close up. I never felt comfortable even though she was very kind and caring. It’s all a matter of who you feel at ease with and can open up.

      It’s not easy to quit. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever go through. I thought I would never be able to stop. I thought this would be my life. It took a major wake up call for me to realize that my mind was tricking me into believing I wanted to keep self-harming and that I had to keep doing it. It took all of my courage to stop. There were days that I wanted to give up and stay deep in depression, but life has so much to offer. It sounds cliche, but it does! And wonderful things that you could never have imagined.

      I draw a semi-colon on my wrist from time to time. I love it, actually. I used to participate in the butterfly project, drawing butterflies on my body, but the reality is they never helped. If I really wanted to cut, I would just do it and ignore I had drawn a butterfly with someone’s name, someone close to me. They never worked me. You will stop when you realize you need to so you can move forward. It’s an uphill battle. And the urges will never really be gone, but they will start to lessen. And then, they just come from time to time. I know you can do it. It’s not easy, but you can do it. You are a strong and wonderful girl. You’re still alive to this day. That shows that you’re strong for choosing to live every day.

      Please know that you can message me any time 🙂

  3. Oh Gen, this post is so fucking incredible. I am in tears right now, but they’re like, only half sad tears- the other half are basically how proud I am to know you. First, I am so, SO thankful to you for sharing this. I cannot even begin to imagine how many people can relate to this, and will feel so much less alone reading your story. And I just love that you talked about the myths, because they are SO TRUE. It’s infuriating that not only are people trying to overcome this, but then have to deal with these crappy preconceived ideas that are so damn false. I am also REALLY glad that you had your psychologist- especially to agree with you about the removal. I mean, I feel like that is such a super personal decision, and you should never be pressured into removing ANYTHING- scars or otherwise. I like that you used that quote, I think it’s very fitting. This post is so beautiful, Gen. I am so, so sorry that you have had to go through this. Big hugs. The biggest. ♥♥♥

  4. Anna Weimer

    Genesis!! I’m SO glad you shared this. Incredible to read your experience and learn more about self harm and gain a better understanding of how it effects someone. *HUGS* to you and your bravery in getting treatment and sharing your experience.

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