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The Drawings That Help Me Stop Self-Harming

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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


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.

Originally published: May 9, 2018
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