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Don't Ignore the First Scratch

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Editor’s noteIf you struggle with suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

I was 14 when I first tried self-harm. All I could manage to do was make a scratch across the palm of my hand. That’s where it started, one scratch. Then, they would go on my arms. I would make a hatch sort of pattern, going horizontal and then diagonal. I wanted help, but I didn’t know how to get it.

Then, I started burning. I learned how to cut deeper. I self-harmed in places people could see but became more discrete as I got older. Often, I would tell people it was my cat. Then, when I was 17, I took my antidepressants out of my bedroom drawer and swallowed them. That was the first time I was hospitalized, but it wasn’t the last.

I have been hospitalized four times. The last time was this year, 2016. I’ve been through so much pain, so many meds. I’ve seen so many doctors and had so many diagnoses. So many times I’ve lost the will to live. So many times I’ve just wanted destruction. I chose to harm myself rather than nurture myself. Now, after so many years, trying to love myself again almost feels impossible.

I’m 19 now. I can go months without self-harm now but sometimes I give in. Sometimes, I just need to see my blood. I have a reward chart. When I go a certain number of days without self-harm of any kind, cutting, purging or drinking half a bottle of vodka, I reward myself. As I am writing this, it has been 27 days since I have self-harmed. There was a time when I was getting into the upper hundreds.

I remember that first scratch when I was 14. I remember exactly what it looked like. Now, I look down at my thighs. I see old white scars. I see pink. I see red. I see the ones that had to have stitches. I see the ones that needed them but didn’t get them. I see the most recent ones, angry red. I see an ugly work of art I cannot erase. These scars will always be with me.

This year, I turn 20. I want to love myself. I want my scars to fade and I don’t want to create anymore. I want to live. Maybe, when people are being “attention seeking” it’s because they need it. Desperately, I know I did. I know I made that first scratch for a reason.

Image via Thinkstock.

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Originally published: October 13, 2016
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