My Battle With Mental Health Part 7: Self Harm
Start writing a post
Health and Wellness

My Battle With Mental Health Part 7: Self Harm

It's bigger than you think.

23
My Battle With Mental Health Part 7: Self Harm
US News

Experts estimate that over 83 million people suffer from some form of diagnosable mental illness. Some generalize it as anxiety. Some generalize it as depression. Some generalize it as bulls**t. The media romanticizes suicide attempts and self-harm because they make a touching story about someone overcoming struggles by finding “the one” or through some feat of their own strength. But the very real truth is that these conditions are not fun. They are not sexy. They do not come with a tearful confession at just the right moment or a swell of dramatic music when you make a breakthrough. They wound those who have the resources and support to get through them, and they cripple or kill those who don’t. Many people don’t know what mental illness is, or what it looks like. So I guess I’ll have to try to explain it. Listen up.

Self-harm (formerly called self-mutilation) is the process by which an individual deliberately inflicts harm on themselves. Roughly 53 million Americans will engage in self-harm a year—one in seven men, and one in five women. It can include burning, bruising, scratching, pulling out hair, and preventing wounds from healing properly. But the one everybody knows is cutting. The poster child for self-harm is the tween with the scars on their wrists and arms that everybody says are there “just for attention.”

In middle school, I knew a girl who engaged in self-harm. She said that “every cut made her stronger” and told me not to tell anyone. I told her parents about it, and she yelled at me. I didn’t care.

Another friend showed me a tiny mark on her wrist and said she made it when she was fourteen. Her niece found her with the knife still in her wrist. Her parents yelled at her for it, and the authorities put her on suicide watch. But as far as I know she never did it again.

I was eating lunch with a friend at college when I noticed a series of neat lines on her upper arm. She didn’t try to hide them. I didn’t ask.

There’s a curious thin line on my right arm where my wrist meets the heel of my hand. I joke that it looks like I tried to kill myself once. That isn’t true, but I’ve never been able to remember how I got it or how long it’s been there.

One time at work, I was chopping vegetables when I accidentally sliced the tip of my index finger. It bled a lot, and I still have a tiny scar on that finger. I still remember how it felt and how my finger recoiled when I cut into it. I can say that it isn’t high on my priorities list to inflict that on myself intentionally.

Self-harm never made sense to me. It seemed entirely counterproductive. You’re hurting emotionally, so you’re going to hurt yourself physically? Now you’re hurting emotionally from whatever bothers you, adding to that emotional hurt from the shame of self-harm, and hurting physically. Didn’t seem like a good idea.

One Saturday night in November, out of frustration and desperation at my inability to fall in love with someone I obviously cared about (for the umpteenth time), and believing I deserved it, I pulled the eight-inch chef’s knife from the drawer in my apartment and flicked the edge with my thumb to test the blade. My three years in a kitchen made sure it was sharp as hell. I set it back in its container, put it back in the drawer, and went to bed.

One Sunday night in November, out of frustration and desperation at my inability to fall in love with someone I obviously cared about (for the umpteenth time), and believing I deserved it, I drew my house key across my left wrist three times. The neat red lines puffed up like cat scratches, and disappeared in a day or two. I never did it again.

The next day in class I Googled whether admitting self-harm to my therapist would require her to have me institutionalized.

It didn’t.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
New Year Resolutions

It's 2024! You drank champagne, you wore funny glasses, and you watched the ball drop as you sang the night away with your best friends and family. What comes next you may ask? Sadly you will have to return to the real world full of work and school and paying bills. "Ah! But I have my New Year's Resolutions!"- you may say. But most of them are 100% complete cliches that you won't hold on to. Here is a list of those things you hear all around the world.

Keep Reading...Show less
Lifestyle

The Ultimate Birthday: Unveiling the Perfect Day to Celebrate!

Let's be real, the day your birthday falls on could really make or break it.

41847
​different color birthday candles on a cake
Blacksburg Children's Museum

You heard it here first: birthdays in college are some of the best days of your four years. For one day annually, you get to forget about your identity as a stressed, broke, and overworked student, and take the time to celebrate. You can throw your responsibilities for a day, use your one skip in that class you hate, receive kind cards and gifts from loved ones and just enjoy yourself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

Unleash Inspiration: 15 Relatable Disney Lyrics!

Leave it to Disney to write lyrics that kids of all ages can relate to.

60860
The 15 most inspiring Disney songs

Disney songs are some of the most relatable and inspiring songs not only because of the lovable characters who sing them, but also because of their well-written song lyrics. While some lyrics make more sense with knowledge of the movie's story line that they were written for, other Disney lyrics are very relatable and inspiring for any listener.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

The Six Most Iconic Pitbull Lyrics Of All Time

Mr. Worldwide just wants to see you succeed.

79118
a photo of artist Pitbull

It is no secret that Pitbull is a gifted artist, but many fail to remember that he can be a source of great inspiration as well. The following is a list of iconic Pitbull lyrics that we know and love. Read on to feel empowered — if you think you can handle it.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

11 Essential Expectations for Becoming the Ultimate Cheermeister

Mastering Festive Expectations: Tips to Shine as Your Holiday Cheermeister

110397
Crazy for Christmas

So you’ve elected yourself as this year's Holiday Cheermeister, there’s no shame in that. The holidays are your pride and joy, and you've taken on the responsibility to get everyone in the spirit. With only one week until Christmas, here are some things we expect from you, Cheermeister.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments