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3 Things My Struggle With Self-Harm Is Not (and 3 Things It Is)

There are so many presumptions made about self-harm and those who do it. Because of this, I want to clear up a few things that have been true for me. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know my own truth.

1. It is not “attention seeking.”

I don’t want anyone to know. I don’t want anyone to see the scars or the evidence. It feels appallingly shameful to me. I am coming to terms with the scars on my body, and I wear short sleeves now. I usually cover my wrists with a watch and bangles, but if anybody notices, I can deal with it.

2. For me, it is not about enjoying pain.

I hate pain. I don’t tolerate pain well at all. I’m a redhead! We feel pain more than non-redheads (I read that somewhere – I’m sure it’s true!) I hate paper cuts, and I cringe at the thought of stubbing my toe. I don’t harm myself to enjoy pain. I do not like it.

3. It’s not about killing myself.

While I definitely have issues with suicidal ideation and overwhelming temptation at times, at no point in time did I think scarring my body would ever come close to killing me.

Here are three things self-harm is for me.

1. It is about fear and self hatred.

My life is consumed by fear. That is the reality of my anxiety — especially my hidden anxiety. I am afraid.

2. It is about comfort.

Ironic as that may seem, hiding away and numbing myself with physical harm, has been extremely comforting for me in the past. When I was consumed with self-loathing and drowning in irrational fears, maladaptive, harmful measures became temporarily comforting for me.

3. It is about emotional pain.

I have never managed emotional pain well, and eventually it all became overwhelming. As a result, I developed really poor coping mechanisms. Sure – I could have made better choices, but I didn’t at the time.

It’s all clear in hindsight.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Thinkstock photo via Kerkez.