This is a hard post to write. Mainly because of the stigma that exists in society. Maybe because I worry that others will judge me or see me differently. Maybe because sometimes I struggle to understand it too.
I used to self-harm. It has been over three years since I last cut myself, but the evidence of this time still exists in the scars that crisscross my legs to the point where wearing shorts often draws stares or strange looks.
For me self-harm was just one thing in a mix of self-destructive behaviours. It was an addiction alongside other addictions. And it was a comfort and a way of survival.
I've often wondered if self-harm was a choice, because who would ever really choose that? Yes, at the time, part of me felt that I deserved it, but it's not as if one day I woke up and thought I want to cut myself today. It was far from that simple.
Looking back I have realised that I didn't really have a choice, I didn't see any other better choices. For me the choice was literally between killing myself, or self-harming as a way of coping with life and trying to stay alive. There was no choice.
I chose life, but that looked very different to what others saw. What others saw as self-destructive, I saw as coping. What others saw as suicidal, I knew was actually a way of keeping me from that. What others saw as throwing my life away, I saw as just trying to Live. One. More. Day.
I have avoided posts such as this for so long, but I know that I need to speak out. I know that there are thousands who like I was, are just trying to survive, yet the world is telling them that they are failing. There are so many who are stigmatised when all they want is someone to sit beside them and be there. There are so many whose lives are lost to this battle.
I cannot join in the silence. Because silence only condones and upholds the stigma. Silence kills.
I know many don't understand. For someone who has never faced this struggle it is next to impossible to imagine how someone could get to the point where they actually cut their own flesh, or engage in any other number of self-harming behaviours. Many don't understand how such an act could actually self-soothe. Many don't understand how that is living.
I've discovered that often people don't need to be totally understood. They often just need to be heard. To be held. To be sat with and accepted. To be loved no matter what. To be told that who they are is still ok.
In time, a choice did need to be made. Or more truthfully put, a series of choices. Throughout the battle there were daily choices to keep living. There was the choice to seek help. The choice to tell trusted people who could support me through it.
After time I was able to make a huge choice. This is a choice that I couldn't have made at the start - I didn't have the strength to do it. But through a series of little choices, I grew stronger. I could make the choice to stop.
When I first started self-harming there was no choice in that. I was just trying to survive. But eventually I did have the choice to stop. That choice saved my life. That choice took strength. But that choice was able to be made. I made it.