What I Wish My 16-Year-Old Self Had Realized About Self-Harm and Depression
I started inflicting pain on myself back in high school, but it got particularly worse when I went to college. What used to be once in two months gradually became a regular habit. I used to fully grasp my reasons behind each relapse, but then I started having episodes when I wasn’t even sure why I was doing it or why I felt so upset.
I was only able to hide it for so long. My friends started to notice the scars on my forearm. I couldn’t explain what I didn’t completely understand then, and I was forced to deal with being judged by by the people whom I almost hoped would at least try to understand.
I remember having had a friend who laughed when he found out about my problem. He said I was “overreacting” and that I only did what I did to get attention for myself. What I wanted to tell him was that I struggled with anxiety often, and I struggled so badly to just fit in and be accepted.
That type of comment was something I had to deal with more often than I had hoped. I surely wish I had the guts to tell everyone upfront how wrong they were.
I know I never seemed like a person struggling with bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder, and I was very much aware of that. I always looked happy and confident especially when I was younger, but I have always been battling with depression. I was one of the loudest people, always laughing and talking, and because of that, I get why people used to always doubt I had issues. But depression isn’t like your favorite sweater you wear to show off to the world. It was just like the scars on my forearm I often tried to conceal because I was too ashamed of the fact that I was sick.
I didn’t have many friends I could talk to when I was at my very worst. All of the breakdowns I had, I dealt with on my own. Until now, I’d still find myself lonely and desperately going through my contacts list looking for someone I could possibly talk to. I got to the point where I gave up trying to make people understand.
Soon enough, I reached a new low, when I could no longer identify myself as anything more than my disorder. All I could think of when asked about myself was exactly how people thought of me: the weak girl who had always claimed to be depressed.
It took me so long — years on end — before I realized that sometimes the only opinion that should matter was my own. I was never any of the things people thought of me as, and I feel sorry for myself for ever believing I was.
I am not self-harm.
I am not anxiety.
I am not depression.
I am not bipolar.
I am not borderline.
No, none of those things define who I am. I may not be at my strongest now, but I am not weak. I will get better. I will recover.
Sometimes all we need is one friend who would be willing to understand — and to me, myself is enough.
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