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What I Want Anyone Who Self-Harms to Remember in the New Year

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Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

It’s nearly 2018, and I think you are due for some much-needed reminders for the new year.

It has not been easy for you recently. Your eyes tell me that you have struggled with dark thoughts. I understand feeling the need to self-harm. Part of it may come from the need to punish yourself. Perhaps you feel you could achieve more. Maybe you feel you are unworthy, or you possibly made a mistake that requires discipline. Maybe another part of you needs to self-harm to just feel anything. You go through the motions of your daily routine without emotion. You perhaps wonder if you have the capacity to feel anything. Maybe self-harm is a reminder you are alive. On the other hand, maybe you feel too much. The anger, sadness, rage and shame need to be released. You are unable to express in words what you can express on your body.

I know you feel isolated and alone. Some days, you are surrounded by people at school or at work, but there is no sense of belonging. Where do you fit in? It is difficult to find support anymore. Will people find you are a burden, an attention seeker or a lost cause? Will anyone even want to understand? You long for someone to recognize even a small bit of what you are going through, and with that recognition show compassion. There are moments you are holding on by a small thread that can be broken with just an unkind word, a cold shoulder or even a minor mishap in the day.

Take a moment, breathe in and out, clear your mind and consider these words:

You, my darling, are so much more than you know. I see your heart and know how bright it shines. You have a warmth that is radiating under the darkness. Nothing you have done warrants the self-inflicted pain. Your body deserves love, nurturing and kindness. But I am not here to tell you that you need to stop. As much as I urge you to seek healthier ways to manage the chaos you feel, I know that right now you may feel you need it to survive. However, there is hope that you will not always need self-harm. There is hope that things will get better. Please hang onto that hope, and let that guide you toward healing.

Your history of self-harm does not define you. Your scars do not make you unlovable, unworthy, or untouchable. I know you have heard it before, but your scars do show you are a survivor. I know it may be difficult to take in, but do not be ashamed of those scars as they tell an amazing story of strength. While it is true that you will encounter people who find them unappealing, there will be others – so many others — who will see more than just the scars on your body. They will embrace the brilliance you possess. You will experience comforting touch, and appreciate the nurturing acts that replace the need for self-harm.

You may feel lost, but perhaps right now, at this moment, you are where you are supposed to be. Let some of that anxiety of the unknown motivate you to find what fulfills you. Honor your authentic self, and do things that bring you happiness.

My friend, you deserve to be in this world. You have a lot potential, and so much to offer. Please make 2018 the year to be kind to yourself. Take those steps, either for the first time or the hundredth time, to seek support. Your words and story need to be heard. Yes, it can be a frightening, but know you are always in control. Take it slow if you need to. It is more important that you are moving forward toward a healthier and happier you. In those dark moments — the ones in which the need to self-harm consumes you — take a minute, breathe and know you are worthy of happiness, respect and kindness. Take another minute, take a few more deep breaths, and remind yourself that you deserve nurturing, not pain. There is hope and there is help. You, my dear, matter more than you know. You are not alone, and it can get better.

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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Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Originally published: December 31, 2017
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