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To the People Who Self-Harm: It's Not Worth It

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Article updated August 12, 2019.

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.

To those who have dealt with or are dealing with self-harm — it’s not worth it.

I know. I know. Months ago, if someone would’ve come up to me and told me to stop self-harming because it’s not worth it, I wouldn’t have listened. I didn’t want anybody to tell me what I could or couldn’t do to myself because I knew if they made me promise to stop I wouldn’t be able to keep that promise.

I didn’t think I was doing anything serious. My cuts weren’t super deep and I never passed out from bleeding. So I convinced myself self-harm was OK for me to do, sort of. I knew self-harm was wrong. I knew before I had tried quitting, it was addictive. I knew the consequences of my behavior. Yet something kept me from stopping.

It was the pleasure. When you self-harm, endorphins are released in your brain, giving you a sort of high, similar to a high you can get from drugs. I just always felt better after the deed. My head was clear. My heart wasn’t as heavy, and I knew I had given myself the punishment I thought I deserved.

Punishment: Because that’s really what it was to me. When I say punishment, I don’t mean a dreaded punishment. Self-harm was a punishment I looked forward to. I’d find any excuse I could to self-harm. Somebody glares at me? Three cuts tonight. I said something I shouldn’t have? Maybe 10. I’m absolutely sure everyone in school hates me? Who knows how much damage I was planning on. I didn’t always know until I locked myself in that bathroom.

I truly believed I deserved the gashes on my wrists, thighs and the constant struggle to make sure no one saw them. If I embarrassed myself somehow at school, then the only thought that got me through the day was the fact I would make myself “pay for it.” It was my fault after all for being so dumb.

These thoughts are what psychologists call distorted thinking. These thoughts aren’t true. If you are about to cut yourself any time soon, stop. Think. Your depressed brain is lying to you. If you think nobody cares, then think again. I may not even know you, but I care. Maybe you have met me but you think I hate you, not true. I care.

Don’t ever let your depressed self decide your worth because I can assure you it’s biased against you. I let my depressed brain tell me how much I was worth, and it wasn’t much. That’s why I fell so easily into the temptation of self-harm. I thought I was worth nothing. I was convinced everyone hated me.

After everything in my life was seeming to go wrong, I started giving up. I didn’t care about myself anymore. I didn’t care about school either or hanging out with friends. I wanted to give up. This was when I hurt myself the worst. After being confronted by my family about it, I realized I need to make some changes. My habits weren’t healthy, and as much as I knew changing would be for the best, I didn’t want to. I let self-harm take over my life, and it was a rough tug-of-war to get it back.

My family was my accountability team, whether I wanted it or not. Most of the time I didn’t want it. I wish they’d leave me alone. I was sick of the constant check-ins and the fact I had to ask my mom for scissors because they were locked in a safe. I know now they were only trying to help me, but back then, I wasn’t appreciative of what they were trying to do.

It took lots of hard work to get better. I actually started trying to get better, which is something I had never done before. I thought I would never get better so I didn’t think it was worth it. I started crocheting and doodling. Being artistic allowed a lot of my brain to “turn off,” especially the parts where depression took over. Even though I still can have rough nights, I’m happy to say I haven’t hurt myself in more than five months.

The biggest thing I struggle with now are the scars. I’ve tried almost every option available to make them fade, scar cream and scar patches. The scars just didn’t want to leave, but that’s a consequence I have to deal with. I’ve tried to wish away these embarrassing, difficult to explain, puffy, pink marks on my skin. But I know I can’t do. They won’t fade for a while.

I’ve taken risks a few times at school and worn short sleeves. I know people have noticed. I’ve seen the stares and heard the questions. I may have answered honestly to some of you, but to others, I’ve given very vague answers, and I’m sorry. Don’t take it personally. It’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s just a really hard topic to bring up. It pains me to talk about it because it was a low in my life.

To those who are self-harming or considering self-harm, no matter how much you think you want it, it’s not worth it. If you can help it, hold off. The storm will pass. I promise. It might take a while, but it’ll pass, slowly but surely.

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Leadphoto source: Thinkstock

Originally published: June 30, 2016
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