As A Recovered Self-Harmer, I'm So Tired Of Hearing Your Ignorant Comments

As A Recovered Self-Harmer, I'm So Tired Of Hearing Your Ignorant Comments

Must you feel the need to speak out on something you do not understand, let alone with pure insincerity?

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Self-harm. Even now, I get uncomfortable merely hearing the topic be brought up, heaven forbid in a room where I know everyone's mind jumps to me. I was a self-harmer for five years, and I have very noticeable scars because of it. I am currently two years clean, and throughout my recovery and even now there are just a few things I'm sick of hearing.

They are so noticeable!

I know you want to immediately dub me as completely mentally unstable. You look at me and wonder how any sane person could do that to themselves. Sometimes you can't hide your curiosity, I get that but I am very aware of my scars, there is never a need to point them out to me beings as I wear them every day.

No normal person would ever do that to themselves!

And honestly, you're right. I, among countless others, have dealt with our mental illnesses in ways that are worthy of judgment, but are we not human?

Must you feel the need to speak out on something you do not understand, let alone with pure insincerity? Additionally, when the human body is injured it releases endorphins-pain killing chemicals- which becomes addicting. It is no longer a choice, but an addiction.

Oh, but it's purely attention seeking!

Stop and think, if we were truly as desperate as to mark ourselves forever, is that not a warning sign? If we needed attention that badly, does that not prove we are lacking it enough to take drastic measures? It is still a sign that somebody needs help regardless. Try reaching out instead of making excuses.

You'll have to explain those to your kids!

I will, and I will do it with love and guidance. I will educate them about the importance of healthy outlets for their sadness and anger. I will encourage them to speak out when they are feeling low. I will tell them that there are plenty of other people just like me, who are not spectacles created by the scars on their bodies.

Won't you be hiding those forever?

If you would have asked me this three years ago, I would have told you yes. Even now, recovery is a journey but I would not be who I am without the tribulations I've been through or the choices I've made. I won't hide them to make others more comfortable because I am already comfortable with myself.

If anyone you know is actively engaging in self-harm, please seek help.

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Students Need To Feel Comfortable Asking Professors For An Extension

It seems like something that could be so uncomfortable that no one would ever dare ask for more time. As long as you are being reasonable with your requests professors will usually be able to help you out.

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This quarter I (the overachiever that I thought I wanted to be) decided to take twenty credits. This quarter still is proving itself to be one of the most complicated that I've had in the last three years of my education. In one week alone I had four major projects due, in all of my four classes, and I found myself lost in a routine of school at 8 in the morning and being up doing homework until 1 the next day. I found myself so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff to do that I was starting to struggle. I knew that I wasn't alone in this struggle so I asked my mom what I should do (thanks mom), and she told me to talk to my professors.

I talk to my professors every day in class, and so I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to do here. All through my education, I was under the impression that NO MATTER WHAT due dates are when something is due.

I found myself on the verge of an educational breakdown, and walked to one of my professor's office hours and just talked to her. I told her about how I am taking so many credits, what was stressing me, and what tolls that were taking on me as a person and as a student. She listened better than anyone else, she offered me an extension on her upcoming project, and she told me that no matter what I need that she would be willing to work with me to make accommodations.

It seemed more likely for me to be slapped in the face with a pancake than to have a professor tell me to take my time and take care of myself.

When I walked out of the office it felt like a giant load had been lifted off of my shoulders and that for the first time in forever I could take a second to just breathe. I had no idea that professors were so human, and that they like all other people understand circumstances. I was given time to catch up in my other classes and also time to make sure I was submitting my best work to that professor.

There is, of course, a huge difference in being able to ask for an extension and when you should know better. For example, you may want to keep these things in mind: how is your attendance? have you asked for an extension before? what are your grades like in the class? Have you been slacking on your responsibilities, or do you actually need more time to finish it? Students who do not show up, turn in their work, or slack are probably not going to be granted an extension.

I hate to say it but the lack of care from a student is obvious to teachers, and putting myself in their shoes, if I saw someone who just didn't care then I'd say no too. Ask yourself what kind of student you are, and make sure that you and the teacher are on good standing.

I recommend asking face-face because it adds a level of humility to ask for something that you really need. It is so easy to hide over a computer, and face to face makes it so that your request is more personal.

School is hard, and professors more than anyone know that. They try their best to make a workload that will work for their students, and when it doesn't ask them for help is okay. Being a student is understood.

If you find yourself in this position, I wish you luck, and I hope that your professors work with you.

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8 Reasons The Enneagram Can Transform Your Life

It allows for the complexity of humanity.

ChelseaC
ChelseaC
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I've been obsessed with personality tests and psychology since high school—anything to better understand both how I and how other humans work, think, and function. But I've often been disappointed in the inadequacy of personality assessments to fully grasp the holistic complexity of human nature—until the Enneagram.

There are so many reasons why people from all different backgrounds and mindsets have fallen head over heels for the Enneagram—here are my personal reasons why.

1. It's a fascinating system.

The Enneagram is an ancient personality typology system, drawing from roots such as Sufi mysticism and early esoteric Christianity, and has seemingly been around for almost two thousand years.

The Enneagram is a nine-sided figure representing 9 distinct ways of relating to the world, the self, and others. Rather than saying "here's how you're born and here's how you act," common to many other personality assessments, the Enneagram takes a far more complex approach: it posits that although we are born with certain personality inclinations, the way we react to early childhood traumas and events condition our behaviors and responses into our personality.

The Enneagram stands out by focusing not on our behaviors, but on our deepest motivations: our darkest fears, intimate desires, and greatest struggles. This complexity leads us into the first reason why the Enneagram can transform your life:

2. The Enneagram's vantage point: Human motivations.

The Enneagram isn't a "personality test". There are tests available, but the best way to find out what number you are is to get books and listen to podcasts and really dig in to the numbers that seem most like you. The focus is on the building blocks of our human psyche: the fundamentals of who we are as humans collectively and as our own selves individually.


The Enneagram cares far less about how you respond and far more about why you respond. It distills all humanity's complex fears, desires, and motivations to 9 key ones. So the same action could be performed by each number, each for different reasons.

If I offer to buy a friend a coffee, am I doing it because I think it's the right thing to do (that's a 1), because I want them to like me and want to be friends with me (2), it helps me feel valuable and impressive to them (3), or so on? Every number might do the same thing, each with a different motivation.

I am an ENTJ and my friend is an INFP—you could not have people who are more opposite each other in their outward behaviors. But we're both 2s on the Enneagram. We both have incredibly different behaviors that are motivated by the same essential fears and yearnings of wanting people to need us and fearing being abandoned.

3. The complexity allows for the nuances of humanity.

Humans are incredibly complex—we can be intimately acquainted with someone and they could still surprise us. As Gandalf said, "You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month—and yet, after a hundred years, they can still surprise you."

Have you ever met someone who was the exact same Myers-Briggs as you, yet behaved so differently it was like they were a different species? If there are only a small number of personality types, how can we all be so different? How can the same "types" be so distinct—and different types be so much the same? The Enneagram accounts for this.

There are 9 numbers on the Enneagram—9 different types. But each number has a "wing"—being influenced by one of the numbers on either side of them. (So a 2 has either a 1 or a 3 wing—and a 2w1 is very different than a 2w3). Each number moves toward behaviors of a different number when it is in a state of stress (or disintegration), and another number when it is in a state of growth (or integration).

There are 9 Levels of Development for each number: a Healthy 5 is very different from an Average or Unhealthy 5. There are also three Instinctual Variants—Social, Sexual, and Self Preservation—that prioritize the way we respond to the world (So a 2 with So/Sx stacking is far different than a 2 with a Sp/So stacking).

The Enneagram distills its 9 numbers into three Centers of Intelligence: The Body/Instinctive, Heart/ Feeling, and Head/ Thinking; these are formed as a response to anger, shame, and anxiety respectively. And lastly, the Enneagram has Tritypes: no matter what a person's number on the Enneagram is, they use all three Centers of Intelligence in a particular order that gives each person a unique defense strategy and coping mechanism

Now, you certainly don't need to get into all these layers--you will benefit immensely just by staying with the 9 numbers, if you wish. But these nuances lead to thousands of possible combinations.

This is one of the critiques of the Enneagram: by providing ways to say something about every gradation of human behavior, it ends up saying nothing about any of it. (A la The Incredibles' Syndrome's: "When everyone is special—no one will be.") This leads to another of the critiques: that people often mistype themselves (thinking they're one number when they're really another), and a typing system that's so convoluted that people can't even figure out what they are is worthless.

However, I think this complexity is the Ennegram's greatest strength. Humans are complex, and the Enneagram gives us a blueprint for understanding our confusing human nature. We as people don't often figure out who we truly are for decades: people (who are committed to self-growth) are often discovering things about themselves and their behavior for all of their lives. The value in the Enneagram is a map in the hands of the person who has the best chance of figuring you out: you. It's not a magical genie that will instantaneously answer all your questions, but it provides a way to ask questions and probe answers you might not otherwise have thought of. And it explains the question that so often bothered me: how can so many people be so similar and so different? Because even the same numbers can have drastically different wings, influences, instincts, thinking styles, etc.

4. The Enneagram explicitly encourages transforming OUT of the number you were "born" into.

The Enneagram doesn't say, "Congrats, you're a 9! Here's how you'll be for the rest of your life." Numbers are meant to move around the Enneagram and learn from and become the best of all the numbers. I am a 2 with a 1 wing, so I'm already influenced by and learning from the 1—and when I respond to stress in a healthy way, I'm becoming more like a 4.

So the idea behind the Enneagram is that as I grow as a 2, I'm also growing in the positives of 1 and taking on the positives of 4. Ultimately, we move around the Enneagram and take on the best of all numbers. Probably no one except maybe Jesus or Gandhi ever actually achieved that level of self-actualization, but that's the goal. That's the moon we're shooting for, even if we miss and land among the stars.


The Enneagram isn't about finding the box you fit into and staying in it, it's about moving beyond that. It doesn't encourage an 8 to say, "Oh, that's just how I deal with conflict, I'm an 8!" Rather, it shows 8s how they deal with conflict with the intent that, once the 8 sees and understands, the 8 can be empowered to make a different (more healthful) choice.

5. It creates an opportunity for heightened self-awareness.

Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. The Enneagram provides an incredible blueprint into looking at each number: the ways that person developed in response to trauma, the way that person is responding now, and how they can alter their automatic responses to be more kind, loving, and grounded in the future.

It encourages personal growth and holistic unity between all facets of one's self. Its blunt and detailed descriptions of a vast variety of possible motivations creates a space for us to ask ourselves questions and figure out who we are, how we are, and who we want to be.

One of my good friends said that the Enneagram gave her the language to understand things she already knew, but didn't know how to pinpoint. There are so many things that I grasped on the periphery of my understanding, but when I began reading about myself in the Enneagram, I knew that I knew this. I fully saw with clear understanding the ways in which I loved, and fought, and struggled. The Enneagram was like handing me a lantern instead of a candle when walking on a dark path. It's still up to me to do the walking and the seeing, but it's much clearer now.

6. We can't move past our demons without first seeing them--and then being empowered to let them go.



The Enneagram encourages self-awareness and realization: honestly, painfully so. In fact, if you're not prepared to look into the darkest recesses of your soul, you shouldn't try to figure out your number. The running joke on how you best discover your number is that your number will be the one that makes you cringe the most. "Ugh. I'm not like that. …am I?"

The Enneagram frankly and openly lays bare our deepest human motivations—which means our nastiest defense mechanisms, our most selfish coping behaviors, the way we most manipulate ourselves and those around us. These are incredibly difficult to look at, let alone admit. But we can't fight our demons without seeing them. We can't overcome our flaws if we don't even know what they are.

Knowing what we already have and what we're already doing gives us the opportunity to accept that this is a part of us—and only when we know, understand, and accept, can we actually begin the transformation into making a choice beyond our conditioned instincts and responses.

An equally Enneagram-obsessed friend says: "The Enneagram makes me feel validated in the things I struggle with on a daily basis, and like someone out there understands and sees me in my struggle." Yes, the Enneagram reveals to you the slimiest corners of your soul, which is a great way to make you feel like the worst of all humanity. But realizing that we're all in this boat together—that there are millions of other people in the world who struggle with these exact same things—can help you bring grace to yourself and give you the courage to look at these shameful secrets you've kept stuffed away, validate your struggle with your darkness, and give you that first step to overcoming it.

7. It gives you the tools to deeply relate to other people.

Why does your loving friend who normally bends over backward to please become combative and confrontational at times? Why does one of your friends shrug off your changing of plans as no big deal, whereas another friend might be devastated? Sometimes treating someone just the way you would like them to treat you actually makes them upset or withdrawn—why? Understanding just our own selves seems difficult enough—how are we supposed to understand other peoples' responses when they're sometimes the exact opposite of ourselves?

Having a knowledge of the nine basic fears and desires of all humans can lend you incredible insight into why your loved ones behave the ways they do when it's different from you.

If you are a 1, you are driven to do the right thing and are devastated if you do something that you think is corrupt or wrong. A loved one criticizing your actions as being bad would be devastating—whereas an 8 wouldn't give a shit if you thought they were good or bad, but if they allowed themselves to become vulnerable to you only for you to hurt them emotionally by rejecting them, they would be crushed to their core. But a 1 doesn't care as deeply if you reject them, so long as you don't think they're an evil person.*

The Enneagram tells us that we all have different core motivations, and none of these are any more or less valid than any other number. This egalitarian method of leveling the playing field opens up greater acceptance in us for others' differences. There's no way to justify using the Enneagram to look down on someone else's deepest fears or personal demons; our own demons are what we become most cognizant of when we read the Enneagram, and if you read it feeling superior to all the other numbers** then you're entirely missing the point.

The Enneagram is about getting out of our own boxes; it's for us to use on ourselves, not for us to use to judge others. But the more we accept the darkest recesses of our own souls—the things we hate the most about ourselves—and the more we understand, accept, and transform ourselves into our healthiest holistic self, the more we are able to in turn extend this awareness, acceptance, and love towards others.

*Elemental human fears are a part of all of us. We all fear being bad, unloved, worthless, identity-less, helpless, etc—the nine universal fears that the Enneagram distills all human fears into. But some of these fears resonate more deeply for us than others, and that's where each number's basic fear comes in.

**Unless, perhaps, you're an 8. Presumably every single other number cringes the hardest when they come to their number except for 8s, but that's a separate article.

8. It actually tells you HOW to grow

Lastly, the Enneagram doesn't just tear you down to your core and leave you wallowing in the muck of your most vulnerable, awful secrets—it gives you a clear path for how to grow beyond this. How to use this revelation to become a healthy, vibrant, at-peace person, rather than becoming crushed by all your selfish unkind habits.

The Enneagram shows you how you instinctively respond to external (and internal) stimuli, bringing things to your awareness that you might not have realized at all—or you may have known, but didn't know that you knew, or what you knew.

Before the Enneagram, I had realized I was drawn to toxic relationships, but I didn't fully understand why—and since I didn't understand it, I wasn't adequately equipped to make different choices. But the Enneagram straightforwardly and clearly explained that 2s are driven by a "savior" complex—believing their love can change the world in general, and can change this person in particular; and a 2's weakness is needing to be needed, which makes 2s a sucker for being manipulated and trapped in emotionally abusive relationships. Understanding these elements transformed the way I looked at my relationships. Without awareness of what's actually going on with ourselves, we can never make a change.

Each number also has a direction of integration, or another number you move toward when you are becoming healthy. 4s move toward a 1 state when they are growing positively; 8s move toward a 2 state. Learning about the qualities of your number's growth state is a clear blueprint of ways in which you can grow.

Additionally, there are nine levels of development for each number, and at each stage there are descriptions of the struggles in that stage and the way to grow to the next stage. So if you're a 4 and you discover that developmentally, you're in the average category, you can see clearly the traits you would focus on in order to become healthier.

I found out about the Enneagram a year ago and I'm still discovering new things about how it works and how it relates to me and the lives of those I love. But that's just like life: I'm constantly discovering things I don't know about the world, others, and myself. I've fallen head over heels for the Enneagram and it's been one of the transformative influences in my life. I hope you fall in love with it too.

ChelseaC
ChelseaC

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