Tuesday, 28 February 2012

And now for something completely different: A guest blog post

Something very different tonight on the blog. I will warn you now, it is NOT fashion related, but it does have to do with something I've touched on in the past, Mental Health. As some of you may know or not, I am bi-polar and I think its important to talk about mental health issues in all their varied forms in order to break the stigma that is still attached to it right down.

My friend Susie approached me with a piece she had written on self-harming, something that I have myself have had experience with and to some extent still experience now from time to time. She wanted to get her words out there but wasn't sure how, as she herself does not have a blog. I must say I am more than thrilled to publish it here, it is in my opinion a beautifully written, honest account of her experience, that I for one can identify with.

I'll let Susie speak now, this is her story.....



Thursday is March 1st. To some it is simply the start of a new month, unbelievably three months into 2012 already.  But, to many people, Thursday is more significant, it is self-harm awareness day.  

I've spent years working in television, PR and marketing.  I've been told on many an occasion that i have a talent, a way with words.  However, this will be the most difficult thing I have ever written.  Because it is about me.  Because I risk losing certain 'friends'.  Because I may be perceived in a different light by some, perhaps even be labelled as crazy by the more ignorant.  Nonetheless, it will be written because maybe, just maybe, I can save someone else from the hell that has been the past two decades of my life.

I was 12 when I first cut myself.  Sat in my bedroom with REM on repeat, reading my crumpled copy of Prozac Nation, a school compass in my hand.  It is fair to say that I ticked every pre-teen cliché known to man.  How I got there is of little relevance.  If you're thinking it, it probably happened to me.  It was how I chose to deal with it that changed my path in life.  That day, as I drew the point of the compass across my skin and saw the blood drip from my arm, what was left of my childhood vanished and a pattern was created.  A pattern that still exists some 20 years later.

Self-harm can take on many guises: cutting, burning, scratching, punching, pinching, hair-pulling, bone breaking, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse and even sexual promiscuity are classed as harming oneself.  I myself have stumbled and cried my way through a number of the above.  But it is the cutting that always saved me, that I revert to in times of need.

I suppose many reading this will think that describing it as having saved me is an interesting choice of words.  Let me make one thing clear: self-harm is not about committing suicide.  Self-harm is a coping mechanism.  Sure, there have been days where I have wanted to die.  Wanted to stop the uncontrollable, soul-destroying thoughts that exist in my microanalytical mind.  But the harming brings only relief.  I don't cut because I want to die.  I cut because i want to live.  It is the only way I know of expressing the pain I feel on the inside, on the outside.  It is the only pain I can control.

I wish i could go back in time and tell that little girl not to do it.  That she was worth more.  That she should be spending her days reading Judy Blume and listening to New Kids on the Block.  Worrying about her first kiss and how many Care Bears she could collect, not how to hide her body from people who didn't understand.  Because, from the moment that 12 year old girl chose to cut, she set a president for every decision she ever made.  The prospective partners she chose, her relationship with food, her relationships with friends and family, the career she strived for, the overwhelming desire to be perfect but falling so short of the mark, even her lack of ability to look in the mirror without wanting to smash it with her bare fists.  There was nothing that wasn't effected.  

It's cyclical you see: I cut because I am not good enough, not pretty enough, not funny enough, not clever enough.  Not enough.  I am needy but I push people away.  I don't trust people so I test them again and again.  When people eventually leave, tired, confused and weary, it simply confirms that I am all of these things and the cycle starts again, each time a little more broken.

The ones who have been tested and pushed and still come back for more?  They are my friends for life.  My saving grace.  I will endeavour never to fail them.  When I love, I love with everything I am and I will have these people in my heart until the day I draw my last breath.  

So, my advice to anyone reading that might be tempted to pick up that first blade? Walk away.  Seek help.  Find something to distract you then talk to a friend, a doctor, a teacher.  It is an addiction.  But razors don't come with a picture of a sliced wrist, or scarred legs, and a health warning on the packet.

And my advice to anyone who knows someone who hurts themselves?  Love them.  They are normal.  They just use a different outlet for the pain they feel than perhaps what you may deem socially acceptable.  Inform yourself.  Don't leave them when they need you.  Don't give yourself only to take yourself away.  It reiterates everything they feel about themselves.  Don't judge them, just be there.  Wrap your arms round them.  Accept the tests, prove your trust, be honest with them.  That one extra phone call or text, that one display of affection, that one compliment, that one last time of proving that you won't let them down may seem incidental to you.  But it may give them enough food for thought to put the knife down.  It may even save their life.

Despite what people may think, I have never hurt myself for attention.  On the contrary.  It is a very private, solitary act, not something that I would want to invite those closest to me to buy tickets to.  Mental health in general is a very hush hush topic.  Despite the likes of Demi Lovato, Princess Diana and Johnny Depp admitting to self-harming, it is still a social taboo.  I've 'come out' to break down the barriers.  I am not weak, have you any idea how much courage it takes to take a blade to your skin?  But I am damaged. Broken.  I know I need a little help along the way, i need to be cared for a bit more than others.  But I will get there and I will shine.

For help or more information:
www.twloha.com
www.recoveryourlife.com


Words by Susan Smith
Twitter: @susieloader


Susie has been honest, and taken a huge leap of faith in writing about her experience, please offer her the respect she deserves by commenting constructively. I will NOT condone negativity in any shape or form. 

11 comments:

  1. It's very brave of Susie to talk about her self-harming so openly and I hope nobody judges her for it. Thank you for bringing light to such a taboo subject. xXx

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  2. Thank you so much to your friend for writting this, I have friends who cut, and I myself cause myself bruises which can be pretty severe, and scratch till I hurt, it is sometimes a good thing I am not keen on my own blood, or I wonder where I would be today.

    I am luck that marc know the signs to look for with me and is there to support me if I stop coping, but not everyone has that, and they need our support not our cold shoulder and bad attitudes. xxx

    Thank you for you honesty. xx

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  3. Thank you for your honesty, your eloquence, and your bravery.

    I know in the age of social media, there will be 1000 blogs showing people HOW to harm, to every one like this, saying to stop, think, talk to someone.

    The voice was stronger in my head not to do it, but I had the nail scissors in my hand, ready...

    K xx

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, it took so much courage for Susie to write this.. I'm really proud of her for being able to talk about this taboo subject and write about it so eloquently!

    People need to know that everything she wrote about self harm and cutting is absolutely true. It's not about suicide or attention, it's a way to cope and relieve extreme amounts of distress. It's calming and allows you to regain a sense of control when you feel powerless. I used to cut, and haven't for a long time, but it's always an urge I have when I'm feeling really stressed or worried or hopeless. Keep your chin up Susie, and keep looking for the light. You WILL shine, girl. :) I'm here if you ever need to talk.

    And thank you, Becky, for posting this. You are amazing. :)

    <3 Dani
    diyfatshion.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you everyone for your comments so far, I'm sure Susie will read them, and be sooooo happy. Thank you too for being so honest about your experiences, it means A LOT. I too self harmed, I'm a hitter and scratcher, borne out of frustration and a need to physically express the pain I feel inside, just as Susie said. I'm glad its touched you in the way it did me when I read it
    xxxx

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  6. You are not alone. I was 13 and used a compass too. At school in a maths lesson. No one noticed but I was enthralled with the real pain and real blood. My mum noticed that evening and told me not to do it again as people would think I was mad. So I did it in private on my legs, arms, stomach and breasts for the next 10yrs. Always alone and always hidden. I managed 10years then without until last year when I hit my worst bipolar depressive period. I sought help on twitter via Mind and my gp put me in counselling and psychiatric support. It's working. I'm now 3 weeks without succumbing. But it's a daily battle to resist. You're not alone xxx

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  7. Thank you all so much for your comments. They mean more than you know. I am over-awed to have had such support and understanding on here and on twitter. It just goes to show that none of us are truly alone. I hope more people gave the strength to talk about this all-consuming problem. I appreciate all of your very real experiences and honesty. Each and every one of us are special and will shine our light on others. I work in a care home these days. I was speaking to one of my residents the other day, a very wise woman, and I said: "why do bad things happen to good people?" her reply struck a chord. She said: "because they are nice, because they are good and because they are strong. People see that and take advantage but we are all a product of our circumstances and it will only make them stronger, kinder and more understanding."

    Much love,

    Suze xx

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  8. I am Susie's best friend and what she failed to mention is that alongside dealing with her own heartache, she has been my rock too. We grew up together and I too was a cutter. We've got through life because we understood each other in this secret world of self harm. Knew when to listen, when to support, when to praise, when to love and when to be brutally honest. But most of all, when to just be there without saying a word. Susie is my soulmate. She might well be needy. But what she takes she gives back tenfold and is inspirational. Hang in there Susie, you are already that shining star.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love you, heart and soul missus xxxxx we both shine for each other xxxxx

      Delete
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Thank you for your comment, I love reading what everyone has to say! B x