Our Stories: Self-Harm (Trigger Warning)
Editor’s Note: It’s hard enough to confront some of the darkest moments of your life, harder still to attempt to articulate or share, but sometimes it helps. And sometimes it doesn’t, I guess.
There is something about the “damaged” and “broken” though…It’s a tribe, recognisable by “scars that glisten in the moonlight” as I put it in a novel called The Sibius Knot. That was fiction, but this is true: So many formerly broken people (like all those who work on themselves) are the loveliest to meet, the most empathetic. They go out of their way to make you feel okay. And that’s what gets me, there’s hope yet, humanity. Oh, and you’re not alone.
Did we say that before?
Why Would You Cut Yourself? (Trigger Warning)
I don’t know when I first thought of doing the self-harm thing — or rather, I do. I was going to be stuck in a dysfunctional, rather emotionally abusive family, while my much-adored (despite a fractious relationship) older sister was going off to college in the US.
I cut my wrists (not deeply) but enough to make the slit, and then covered it up (with chalk, believe it or not).
I tended to use the self-harm thing on and off for years after that, as a way of channelling…something. It would hurt so much that I wouldn’t feel anything else.
It was a release if I was feeling too much.
It was just something I did. Not in obvious places, necessarily. But years later, I caught up with an old roomie from the first (and only) PG I ever lived in, who laughed about what a “psycho” I was, or something, cutting myself. So was it that public then? I don’t remember. At that moment, not only did I feel a cold dislike for her, but my heart melted for my younger self. I wish I’d figured out how/ where to get help.
It would have made the next decade much easier.
What the the hell could I have been so miserable about, after all? This privileged life, so many of us get to live, what kind of *real-world problems could I possibly have had? Ah, if you’ve thought/ are thinking that, then maybe we can’t have this conversation after all. Because you have no idea. How deep and dark and black the grey goes.
I’m really happy for those of you who have no idea, really I am. Skating through life not in the least bit aware that the ice is paper-thin, or that it can crack at any moment, taking your entire being, your entire self with it.
You’re the lucky ones.
But you know what? So are we. The ones who survive. The ones who don’t self-destruct in the end (and there have been (re)lapses including fairly recently, I’m embarrassed to say, but really there’s no point in *not being honest in a blog like this?) But now for me it very much is a signal, a sign that I need to stop, take a giant pause, and take care of myself. Like that’s the line in the sand.
And while self-harm and suicidal ideation sometimes co-relate, you know that it’s not always the case. Which also confuses people. Though that’s not the point.
But regardless of whether you have had incidents of self-harm or self-destructive thoughts, whatever your age, or for those of you who have felt the siren call of ‘ending it all’, those of you who know what true hopelessness feels like (including someone I met a few years ago, whose scars tell their own story…) I hope you find the help you need, the hope we all need.
Sometimes just waiting things out — this one night, this one moment, this one week, this one month — that can do the trick. Things ease up. I swear.
Already around you, there might (there must!) be something fluttering, someone waiting in the wings, who can help you get to a better place. Reach out for help.
And if you’re reading this, and know what I’m talking about or worry about someone close to you who might know what I’m talking about… Give them a hug. Let them know you care, that you’re there. And won’t judge. And please, point them out to people who are trained, to help. The world can be a welcoming, safe space too…It takes some of us longer to get there, is all.
Editor’s Note: If you or anyone you know exhibits signs of self-harm, please reach out to a trained expert for help. A (partial) list of where you can get help in India is here (and will be updated on a rolling basis).