The Drawings That Help Me Stop Self-Harming


I’ve never felt like much of a drawer. My pictures were never the best — no one oohed and aahed at them. I didn’t mind this much. I didn’t draw much anyways; it wasn’t my forte.

But in ninth grade I started self-harming. I was stressed out and anxious and felt the only way I could calm myself down was to hurt myself. I knew it was unhealthy to deliberately hurt myself, but I couldn’t think of anything else to make the sinking feeling of anxiety go away.

I was still doing it during summertime whenever I got anxious, but I knew I needed to stop. I needed to find a way to stop myself. Then I had an idea: I got out the sketchbook I had gotten for my birthday and began to draw how I felt. I did this two other times. I stopped for a while after that, but then I bought colored pens. I had only intended to use them for school work (graphite makes it hard to see words correctly), but one day I got bored and drew a picture of a woman, using a different technique than I had ever been taught. I loved the picture I drew, and I decided to try drawing again (I made two more). Here are the pictures I drew and what they mean:

Pieced Together

This is the first one I made. It is showing how I felt at the time and how I still sometimes feel. Broken and falling apart, poorly stitched together and very fragile.

woman with scars and messy hair

Confused/Sad

I can’t quite remember what had made me feel this way, but the picture is still relevant. I still cry (kind of a lot), sometimes at the silliest things.

worried-looking woman

The Voices

This one is very hard for me to share. It’s me clutching my head as darkness engulfs me and the figures say horrible things to me. All of these things they are saying are things I’ve thought about myself or have been told by others. It still hits me hard when I look at it.

bullies making fun of a woman

The next three pictures don’t have names. You may notice they look strange. This could be for two reasons. 1) I only have six colored pens, so I layer them to create different tones in skin, eyes, etc. 2) I started drawing the eyes first. I draw the irises and build off that.

This is the first picture I drew with my colored pens. Like I said earlier, I love this picture. My favorite part about it is that she’s bald. She has no hair on her head other than her eyebrows. Women have been told all throughout history that without the hair on our head, we’d somehow be ugly or unwanted. This isn’t true though. As you can see, this woman is very beautiful and she has no hair. Not even shaved off, it just isn’t there. I think it’s important to realize not every woman has hair. Not all of us can grow it, and some of us lost it for some reason, but that doesn’t mean we’re ugly. It just means we don’t have hair for some reason.

bald woman with green eyes

This picture is interesting to me. She’s not a gorgeous supermodel, but she’s not ugly either. She’s average looking. She’s still beautiful, but she looks like a “normal,” healthy person. A lot of us look like normal, healthy people to strangers. But a lot of us are also going through something other people can’t see.

woman with blue hair

This final one is my favorite and most recent. Partly because she’s showing more emotion than I can usually draw and partly because of the stars behind her. I love the night sky. Stars and moonlight are some of my favorite things to look at. Adding the stars to this picture made it so much more personal to me, and the emotion she’s showing makes her seem more real.

woman with night sky behind her

All images by Mikelle Mefford.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Self-harm

woman's tattoo that says "be still" with a cross and bird

How My Tattoo Gives Me Hope as Someone Who Struggles With Self-Harm

I have wanted a tattoo for several years now. I’ve struggled with self-harm and several suicide attempts in my life, which I deeply regret. This year, though, my plan was to finally get a tattoo that had special meaning — one to help remind me to keep pushing forward, I’m not alone, and even when [...]
woman with hair covering face

When Self-Harm Scars Make You Feel Ashamed

“Always recovering, never recovered.” A simple sentence that can be a harsh reminder. And that’s not to say your efforts or how far you’ve gotten were for naught – but to keep getting back up when you do fall. I’ve learned over the years, of course, that it’s extremely important to know you are not [...]
silhouette of woman with umbrella standing at window with bright light from outside,illustration painting

What I Want You to Know If Your Mental Illness Story Doesn't Have a Happy Ending

Almost all stories about mental illness are told with a beginning, a middle and an end. They usually start with the changes that occurred as the author’s mental illness began. The middle is the juicy part: the explanation of the illness, often with indulgent details of what it is like to struggle with their mental [...]
Watercolor portrait of a girl

When Self-Harm Makes It Difficult to Feel 'Sexy'

Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here. Models and magazines can make feeling pretty the hardest thing in the world, [...]