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Because We Are Better Than This, And They Were Wrong

Thursday, February 21, 2013

[Note: Today's post could be triggering for those who self-harm.]


Frank of PostSecret shared a link on Twitter this week that was hugely inspiring: a young guy with Asperger's named Elijah posted his mailing address about five months ago, and invited anyone who struggles with self-harm to send him their blades, "so they can take a step forward towards getting better."

Putting aside how inspiring it is that this guy is using his "different-ness" to change the world for the better, I have to say I never imagined seeing pictures of blades, paper clips, and lighters taped to little notecards with names on them could make me cry - but this one got me right in the gut:


And then I got choked up again at the card next to it, which was from a 13-year old named Grace.  

A 13-year-old.

Named Grace.

When I was a teen I used to dig my fingernails into the back of my hand any time I felt like crying. In college that became a regular habit, and my left hand was constantly covered in puffy cuts, scratches, and bruises. I remember customers where I worked asking if I had a cat, and then looking intensely uncomfortable when they learned I didn't. I never took it further, thank God, but I still remember that feeling of desperation, of a need for control, and of the not-so-silent cry for help I was making by making myself bleed. 

And then...John.

My scars have faded away almost completely now, but I've since learned that anyone can find themselves in a place of pain and chaos, and more importantly, that there is no shame in that.


I was going to end there, but then Sara S. sent me a video that, while not being about self-harm per se, is still extremely relevant. It's a beautifully illustrated spoken-word poem about childhood bullying, and I hope you'll find a few moments when you're alone to watch it:

(If you ever question the need for videos and campaigns like this, just read a few of the hate-filled comments over on Youtube. UG.)

I know there are a lot of young girls and guys reading this who are facing the hardest struggles of their lives right now, and I know there are older girls and guys who feel more lost than they think they can handle. If that's you, then I just wanted to say that you are loved, you are valued, and there are better ways to regain control of your life than through self-destruction. In short, we are better than that.

And those people? The ones whose voices and condemnation we carry with us?  

They were wrong.



I wasn't going to post this until next week, but then a few hours ago Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess  - and who I know many of you love as I do - tweeted the following:


Since I already had this draft written, I took that as a sign to go ahead and post it now. We all need to be reminded we're not alone, and I've long admired Jenny for being willing to show that even the most successful and talented among us can have struggles. She's breaking down the walls of silence and stigma, and I hope making it that much easier for the rest of us to talk freely and without shame about the times when we're hurting.


Please feel free to share your own stories in the comments, even if it's just anonymously. You never know whose life you could change with a few words of advice and encouragement.

Posted by Jen at 4:13 PM Labels: ,

183 comments:

  1. That's the neat thing about the Internet: we discover that we were never as alone as we thought we were.

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    1. And yet I am still so alone, offline.

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  2. In 5th grade I wanted to be in a full body cast so I wouldn't have to deal with what was going on in my life. I actively thought about harming myself through all of middle school and high school, trying a couple of times, but being too scared to really do it. In college, after a series of highly traumatic events, I finally did it.... and felt great. Guilty, but great. So I did it more and more and more. Meanwhile, I realized this wasn't who I was, and got therapy (and also met my future husband who helped a lot) and now it has been about 13 years since I laid razor to wrist. I'm so greatful for those that helped me recover and I share the sentiment in the post, that we are BETTER THAN THIS. Thank you for shining light on a sensitive, hidden topic and being willing to share.

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  3. I still feel a desire to self-harm all the time, although my family would like to believe I'm "cured". I used to buy those little boxes of tissue-wrapped razor blades from the drugstore, and during breaks from a job I hated so much I would gladly have broken my own limbs to get out of it, I would sneak off to the bathroom and slice my leg or upper arm with the razors, then bandage them. When I moved on to the palms of my hands, other people started to notice, and my family stepped in. I spent 24 unproductive hours in a mental institution, and then quit my job and went away to school in England, where I met my wonderful husband, who helps me make it through every day. I still struggle, though, and today is one of those overwhelming days. Thank you, Jen, for posting this; even those who really love me and care for me are so afraid of self harm that I can't talk to them about it, and while I know how frightening it must be for them, I have always wanted there to be a more open dialogue about it, not just with them, but in society at large.

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    1. Most people who are afraid to talk about it think that they will be giving you "ideas". You already have the IDEAS, and they need to understand that. However, if your friends and family are not comfortable talking about it, I strongly suggest you seek out a group (or counselor) where you can share. Talking about it relieves pressure and can really help. There are people who are willing to listen.

      Best wishes on your continuing journey...

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  4. **Possible triggers**

    I've only self-harmed twice in my life; once when I was living with a guy who had raped me (long story) and once when I was accused of lying about my experiences of all kinds of abuse going back into childhood. I don't have a problem talking about it, because after all, it's not like I chose to get into a state where I felt the need to do it.

    A little tip for dealing with prejudice:
    What I always say to people who think it's about selfish attention-seeking is this: Take a fork and stab the prongs into your leg as hard as you possibly can, slam your head into the wall as hard as is possible. If self-harm is a choice then anyone should be able to do those things. You can't. The self-preservation instinct is too strong. Imagine how all-consuming someone's negative feelings must be that that instinct, the one that helps keep us alive, gets broken.

    That usually wins the argument!

    I am "out", both as an abuse survivor and as someone who has self-harmed, because they are valid life experiences. Horrible ones, yes, but as valid as any other, and if people are made to feel like they must cover them up it perpetuates the problem. The last thing silence does is help. Thanks to everyone who has spoken out, especially to Jen and The Bloggess. You're beautiful people.

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    1. Thank you Jan - the words are beautifully written. Your argument above is the same one I use to explain suicidal thoughts when someone says "How could he/she be so selfish?" If you've never felt suicidal or wanted to self-harm, you should feel very blessed indeed that you can not fathom what it must be like inside that person's head. It is truly awful.

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  5. At one point in my life, I felt completely trapped, with absolutely no hope for change. I was educated yet poor - even though I worked three jobs; not yet able to stand up for myself and basically feeling worthless and weak. The recurring thought I had at my horrid day job was visualizing myself wearing "cruel shoes." Comedian Steve Martin had a bit about shoes with razor blades in them. Imagine, 8 hours every day for a year - this is what I was thinking. My chosen form of self-harm was food binging and then starvation. I had no money for therapy, and it never occurred to me to ask someone to help me. Then a friend told me she was in therapy, and I realized that help was available. Just knowing that fact stopped the thought pattern. I suddenly grew girl-cahones and found a better job, learned to self-advocate, and see a therapist. It's funny, but when I ask folks who knew me then, they all thought I was a happy-go-lucky sort. All it took to break through that horrible, horrible wall was one person sharing their truth. Suddenly, I was free.
    Reading "the Jens" as I call you and The Bloggess, I found the courage to admit that I still had the habit of hiding anxiety, depression, and bouts of bipolar madness. When I saw those symptoms in a family member, I was able to "come out" as a crazy and help them.
    So, from the bottom of my crazy-ass heart, thank you "the Jens."

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    1. A wonderful woman I know had insight to share about "girl-cahones:" cahones are weak and vulnerable. Want to really be strong? Grow yourself a v***** - now THAT can really take a pounding.

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  6. I self-harmed regularly from age 13 or so until the middle of college. It escalated into suicide attempts when I was about 19, and also involved bulimia. All I can say is wait it out. Wait a few years, if that's what it takes. Wait for things to change, because they always do. That doesn't mean don't get help, or work towards making your situation the best it can be, it means be aware that this is a struggle that might take you a while to overcome, and that's totally ok. For me, it took my brain basically just going 'no more!' when I was about 22. I think something just got re-wired in there, and now, even though I struggle with depression still, I haven't self-harmed in 3 years. Don't let people tell you to 'get over it' or that you are just trying to get attention. My self-harm sure as heck didn't get anyone's attention, it was just a coping mechanism I used. Your pain is real, but the reality is that the pain will subside. I was always incredibly annoyed when people told me that it would get better, but then it did. I am happily married, in grad school, with my first baby on the way, and when people who knew me back in the dark days look at me now, they tell me how happy they am that I made it through. And so am I. :)

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    1. Waiting out a destructive eating disorder worked, for the most part. Now my recourse is writing on bathroom walls about the loneliness of eating disorders and the help that's available. Words cannot describe how not-alone I feel when other girls comment on my scribblings.

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  7. A few of my friends have dealt with losing a friend to suicide and it is truly heartbreaking.
    If anyone out there is contemplating- I know your pain. Some days the world just seems so wrong, and so messed up and your little life means nothing- but it does to someone. Even if that someone is just your pet goldfish. Your goldfish relies on you to take care of him and give him food and fresh water. While he may not fully understand what forces there are ensuring his life he still depends on them. If you go away your goldfish may not be fed and he would die too.
    You are loved. No matter how small and insignificant you may feel someone loves you. No one is ever truly alone. Maybe you just chatted to that librarian the other day and made their day when you talked for an hour about your favorite book. YOU. ARE. LOVED. You were made unique- no one else has ever had or will ever have the same DNA as you. You are perfect, and wonderful, and unique. Nothing can ever replace you. Please, if you are in a place where you cause yourself harm, talk to someone. And know that if I could I would give you a hug myself. Stay strong. You're better than this.

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  8. I kept myself at the bottom of a deep, emotional pit for years because I believed that's where I belonged. I thought I deserved to hurt, to be hurt, to hurt myself. I defined myself by my depression and by what I was a victim of. I didn't think I was worth saving. When I finally realized that it was okay to want to STOP feeling that way, I was able to find the strength to ask for help. My low points aren't what I choose to let define me any more. Everyone is worth saving.

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    1. This made me cry - this whole post did in fact. I've felt this way ever since I could remember, felt like I was garbage, was never worth anything and didn't deserve to be happy. It's led me to sabotage a lot in my life - and taken a long time to realise I was wrong, but thanks to a wonderful wonderful friend I know I've been wrong. I still struggle with feeling this way (physically harming myself was to overeat) and still give in to a spoonfuls from a pint of Ben&Jerry's on occasion but I know I'm better than that.
      Jen - thanks so much for this blog - it's more than just a place for posting; you've created this little community where we can all support each other :)
      ~erin kristine

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    2. I am bawling. I still hate hate HATE all those kids to this day, almost as much as I hate me in the mirror, and I haven't been able to successfully let go of any of it. I'll keep trying.

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  9. I have struggled with self harm ever since high school. I used to work at a summer camp where I was the "outdoor Living Skills" instructor, which meant if someone saw burns on my arms.... well, I taught fire building every day,stray sparks happen.
    And frankly, I never thought of it as self harm, just something that had to happen once in a while.
    Once I stopped working at camp, I switched to scratching my arms, and having pet rats with sometimes sharp claws helped hide that as well.
    Luckily I had(and still have) an awesome roommate who keeps me accountable.

    But for me, the biggest struggle I've had is not feeling like it's a problem. That it's not that big a deal... some days I still feel that way, which is why having someone who knows and who cares has been so helpful to me. Because even when I don't think I'm important, she does.
    I've gone a month without hurting myself. Thanks for reminding me that I'm not alone. :)

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  10. I am in tears at the moment.

    I wasn't bullied in school, I wasn't fat, or abused, but... I still couldn't stand myself. I still CAN'T stand myself. I've never cut, although the thought crossed my mind when I was younger. What you said about digging your nails into your arm? I still do that. I slap myself as hard as I can, but it doesn't help, because I don't bruise easily, and the pain doesn't last.

    I can't talk to therapists about it. I can't talk to my parents or family or friends. I'm afraid they'll hate me. I'm afraid they ALREADY hate me, and just won't tell me the truth.

    I don't know what to do... I'm on medications. I've told my parents, my doctors, that they don't help, that they only help me to hind what I'm feeling, and they just ask if I'm actually on them, or if I think a higher dose would help.

    I'm always afraid to ask for help. Over the years I've convinced myself that asking for help, with homework, with life, with anything, is a sign of weakness. That it's inconveniencing others. That I'm a waste of everyone else's time.

    I don't think that any of this will change soon, either.

    I'm in college. I SHOULD be over this. I should be normal. I should be able to function in everyday life.

    But I can't.

    And I don't know what to do about it.

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    1. The Bloggess has a saying: Depression LIES. So does anxiety and fear and self-doubt. They're lying to you right now, because I promise you - I *promise* you - that your family and friends love you and are just afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. And when it comes to healing, there IS no "should." Give yourself time. Allow yourself to be loved. Talk about it. And remember that sometimes you just have to hang on and keep breathing, because tomorrow could be the day the sun comes out again.

      Also, I'm sending virtual hugs your way.

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    2. There is no such thing as normal. I have dealt with depression since I was a teenager. It runs in my family plus I was bullied. I started cutting in high school but stopped by senior year. I thought I was better. I went almost all through college thinking that I was better and "normal". I had my bad days and bad weeks but I was ok. But I wasn't.

      On March 23, 2012, I tried to kill myself. I took Vicodian, sleep meds and Vodka. I also cut myself for the first time in 5 years. I got the helped I needed and I was better. I graduated high school and moved to Orlando. I was ok.

      I checked myself into a behavioral health center December 28. I was suicidal and aching to cut. I am proud of myself that I didnt. And now I'm back home. If i need to go in-patient again, I will.

      I do what I have to do to keep sane and to keep my brain from hating me. It is tough as hell and an uphill battle.

      You deserved to me loved for who you are in your amazingness. And you deserve the help to love yourself and be happy. I hope you get it.

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    3. Anon, a couple things you should know about the meds.
      First, depression meds should not make you feel doped up. If yours is doing that, talk to the doc and ask to switch to a different class.
      Second, depression meds will not make you happy. I've gone through three on-med/off-med cycles, and the best way to express how they make you feel is "lighter." You should feel like the heavy and wet blanket is off your back. It won't make you feel like you're wrapped in a nice warm blanket fresh from the dryer. You'll still have good days, and bad days, but you won't feel like you're trying to tread water with an anchor tied to your foot.
      You may have a good med, but the dose might be wrong. Everyone's body is different and it make take some futzing to get the right dose for you. Be willing to try.
      There are depression medications that are prescribed as supplemental to a base medication. You may be able to get a script for them. You may even be able to find a clinical trial testing one of them and get a bit of money on the side too.

      You're not just going to "get over this" on your own anymore than you could cure yourself of diabetes on your own. You have a medical disease. I do too. It doesn't make you a bad or weak person to have a messed-up brain chemistry any more than having cancer makes you a bad or weak person; it just makes you someone who needs help to get better.

      Trust me, all those psychologists and psychiatrists and family and friends really *do* want to help. I know it can be so hard to let people help you. But it's really worth it.

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    4. I just wanted to say that even if your family did hate you (which they hopefully do not, but who is to guarantee that they don't- as people often try to say "Of course they love you!"), it would not about you. I have family that has acted like they hate me for most of my life because I came at a bad time and didn't make life any easier, and it was taken out on me, because they couldn't get their life straight. And the fact that they hate me sometimes is not my problem. They are the ones that suck, not me. I do all I can to be the best I can, and that is all anyone can ask. And that is all anyone should ask of you. Your best is measured by you, not outside sources.

      A lot of people don't understand that your family doesn't HAVE to love you, and just might not, but that doesn't change the fact that you ARE lovable and you have worth, and you are allowed to ask to feel safe and to feel heard, and the sum of you is not measured by the character flaws of those around you. <3

      I can understand all the fears you have. And if you would like to talk to me, I would be more than happy to listen. You can find my email address by following my name.

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    5. Anonymous, I had similar feelings to what you described from childhood through college. Mine did mostly stem from a time as a child when I was sexually abused. I did what (I learned later in therapy) many children do when they suffer from complicated emotions and struggles and took all the blame upon myself. I thought that all of the pain caused by this situation was my fault and for many years anything bad that happened to my friends or family I blamed myself for. I thought about self harm, but mostly I just lived every day continually hating myself, no matter how often I was told I was loved.
      I also never let on that I had these thoughts or feelings, I felt that would only cause more pain for others. It wasn't until my then boyfriend, now husband caught me in the middle of a panic attack during my senior year of college that I finally, grudgingly, went to counseling. I am so glad that I did, because I finally did have my ah hah moment. For me it was when my counselor had me visualize myself as a child, and asked what I would tell that child. I felt with all my heart that I wanted to scream at her that it wasn't her fault! That she deserved happiness! And then, slowly, the other voices in my head started to fade

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    6. Something weird happened that had my last comment end early. Anyways, I want you to know that you are loved. After reading your story I care about you. I hope that you can find peace, and please don't feel pressured to try and be "fixed" by a certain time or in a certain time frame. Healing takes as long as it needs.

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    7. Whenever I see something like this, I wish there was a magic word I could say that would make everyone in the world happy at least for a day. Unfortunately, there is not, but the least I can do is stay optimistic and make sure that everyone I know is happy and try to help them if they aren't.

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    8. Anonymous, you are not alone. So many people struggle with inner thoughts that are their own worst enemy. I've struggled with depression and still struggle with thoughts that what I do isn't good enough, but what Jen says is true - those thoughts are lies. When your inner voice is telling you people hate you, its lying to you. Those kinds of thoughts are actually symptoms of depression - this has been documented. When I realized that (with the help of a therapist), I was able, over time, to challenge those thoughts and tell myself they are lies, and not to believe those thoughts. If a friend or family member, someone you cared about, told you about emotional problems they were having, would you hate them for telling you? Of course not. And your friends and family will not hate you for telling them how you feel. A therapist will not hate you no matter what you say to them. They exist for the sole purpose of helping people, not hating them.

      I also struggle with asking for help. I was brought up by a mom who never asked for help and didn't want me to ask for help either because she never wanted to impose on people. That fear of imposing has led my mom to not spend time with her best friend whom she loves dearly and who loves her (and who was constantly asking to spend time with my mom), because she didn't want to impose. My mom is now in her late 80s and regrets that she missed so many opportunities to be with her best friend, and realizes now the only thing stopping them spending time together was the lie in my mom's head that said she was imposing.

      I also believed asking for help was a sign of weakness and I didn't want to impose on my friends. This included not wanting to take medication for depression. But when I simultaneously had to deal with being left by my husband, a cancer diagnosis and losing my job after surgery, I realized that I couldn't get through it all without help. I realized that whether or not I was being weak, I needed help. And it was so freeing. I took anti-depression meds which helped me get through each day. And once I started asking fiends/family for help, I realized that they were so happy I asked them for help, because that's what your friends and family want to do - they want to help because when you care about someone you want to help them. And then I really knew that asking for help is not a weakness - its a natural part of being human - everyone needs help at some point, so we all help each other in different ways, all the time. I help my friends/family and they help me.

      And finally, telling yourself you should be over it is only adding to the list of things you feel badly about yourself, its not helping you work through it. I was in my late 30s before I was able to ask for help and realize that bad thoughts about myself were the lies depression was telling me. Now in my late 40s, I still sometimes have to tell those thoughts to leave me alone. I still have to tell myself not to be my own worst enemy. I still sometimes have to remind myself that those thoughts are lies. Don't try to "get over it" - try to tell yourself that people hating you and thinking you're wasting their time are not true thoughts, and that you choose to replace those thoughts with other thoughts, like: "I am worthwhile, my friends and family care about me, want to know how I feel and want to help me." Keep telling yourself this, and in time you will believe it.

      There is no normal. Most people struggle with some kind of emotional sabotage that their brain puts them through. YOU ARE WORTHWHILE, even if you don't believe it right now. Please try to find a way to let a therapist help you, because you deserve to believe that you are worthwhile.

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    9. Sweetie - I don't know you but right now I just want to hug you. And you aren't afraid to get help - talking to someone - anyone - is a start. I'm in college too and it doesn't change how I feel. This isn't something that stops when you hit a certain age. Just think, though, that when you're down and don't think people care, there always will be someone out there who does.
      ~erin kristine

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    10. Hi.

      I can't tell you how similar you sound to me, until just a couple of years ago. A few things stood out to me about what you said. First of all, you use the word, "should." Please eliminate that word from your vocabulary when it follows "I." It is guilt-inducing, which is counter-productive. The fact is, you are where you are and you need help. And there is NOTHING wrong with that. At some point, you endured some sort of emotional or physical trauma that caused the issues that you are dealing with. Now, you need to get with a counselor/therapist/psychiatrist and talk to them. Shop around to find one who is a good match for you, who you can be honest with, and you must be honest! Don't feel that you are a burden, especially to a paid professional! Believe me, they have heard it all and you have nothing to be ashamed of. Most people love to help others, and we all need help at different times in our lives. Sometimes it takes years to get through something, but you need to get through it. You are worth it, and you are not a burden on anyone! There is nothing wrong with being weak. Own it. It's okay, because one day you will be strong.

      I encourage you to work with your doctor to find the best medication/dosage for you. This can take time; try not to be frustrated. Also, meds aren't the end-all, be-all. You have to get some therapy also.

      If you sweep this under the rug and continue to try not to burden people, it will catch up with you later. I know too many people who are middle-aged to elderly who never dealt with their issues and suffered greatly for it.

      You are worth getting the care you need.
      Hugs and love to you.

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    11. I am terrified, praying that you are not my roommate from last year. Because I couldn't handle being the only one seeing her in constant pain and drowning it in cheap vodka and not knowing how to help her - so I left. I couldn't understand her pain or how to handle her craziness on meds or her drinking; I lashed out, angry that I had to be the one to take care of her and that she never noticed my own pain. I was self-harming by overeating and made the decision to leave -

      Z, I love you and I hate myself for leaving but I felt I had to. My sister wants me to be angry at you for putting me in that situation, I came out scarred and I didn't know how to help you more than what I had already tried. I'm sorry. I'm making excuses. I still want to eat when life hurts.

      Anonymous: the meds aren't a silver bullet, if they're making you crazy or numb or passing out then They're Doing It Wrong. Your family and friends and doctors and therapist don't hate you. I promise. It's hard to understand others' pain without experiencing it yourself. If there are counseling/psych services at your school, it's scary and feels like Failure to ask for help and it was physically painful for me to go talk to a counselor but it helps, if only because you say that You Are In Pain and then it's words and sound waves and you've told someone else, so it's not just your own thing anymore. There are good doctors and therapists out there who will do more than medicate you and send you on your way. Find them, because getting better is worth it. Not having self-loathing as a bass note to every thought is worth it.

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    12. I may not have been a person who has ever been in a dark enough place to self-harm, but I had stress so bad that it alone gave me seizures for 2 years. I can only remember three times that anyone ever teased me about them, as I was *thankfully* able to surround myself with people who took the time to make sure I was alright(and who told off others who decided to be nasty). I realized how vital it was that they were around me, and I thanked them for it a lot. It may have taken 2 years, but I did finally realize one day that 'I was not my problem'. That will probably sound strange to those who have never been in this type of situation, but there is a huge difference between knowing it, and believing/trusting in it.

      Three years have gone by since my last seizure. I just wanted to say that hugs and "I love you's" are under-rated medical tools.

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  11. Thank you Jen for bring more attention to the subject of self injury. The more light shed on it, the better.

    * * TRIGGER * *

    A bit more info on Self inflicted Violence (SIV) for those interested.

    Intense emotional pain is hard to deal with. You can't see it, you can't put a bandage on it, you can't fully explain it to anyone else. The pain is personal and well, excruciating. Some people have learned not to show pain, or lack the ability to effectively communicate pain.

    When the tension builds internally to a point that feels like..."I'm going to explode, I am going to go insane" people who self injure...injure themselves. This act does many things...says many things....

    1. It transfers the pain to the surface, where you CAN see it, you CAN heal it. You can't bandage the soul, but you can bandage your arm.

    2. The blood speaks volumes as to the internal pain. Think of the cut as a red mouth screaming the pain. (this maybe the only way a person can express the discomfort they are in).

    3. The act itself will literally cut the tension one is feeling. You are left with a calmness, a dissociating "high", you feel back in control now that the energy is released. This fact makes SIV a very addicting act. You are positively reinforced each time you injure.

    SIV is very alarming/disturbing to people who don't do it. What you need to know about us is this. We are not trying to kill ourselves with the injuring...think of it more as self medicating.

    SIV does not = suicide attempt. Suicide is an another category all by its self. Suicide = taking action to ends ones life, while SIV = taking action to ease internal pressure, so one can keep on functioning.

    It is in fact often used to stop one from reaching that point of seeking fatal means to cope. The number one most common denominator to SIV is a history of sexual abuse...we are talking about deep deep issues that need a professional touch here, the healing journey is a hard one. Deep issues must be faced, a commitment to healing and working towards learning and using healthy coping skills must be there.

    One doesn't have to have any abuse in there background to learn SIV as coping skill., it works just as well no matter the reason behind it. SIV is about control too...controlling ones emotions and feelings and destiny.

    Cutting can give a sense of control. I CONTROL WHEN AND WHERE I FEEL THE PAIN.

    We are NOT crazy for injuring ourselves. We are just in pain, and have lost the ability to communicate any other way.

    Think of it this way...the SIV is a fever. Its a symptom of a deeper infection that needs to cleared up before the fever goes away. You would never tell a sick person...just stop having a fever. We do medicate the fever away, but does the cure the infection? nope. There is deeper work we need to do.

    Things that are not helpful...

    1. giving ultimatums You may not cut. I won't be your friend if you injure yourself.

    2. "Stop it for me." "promise me you won't cut for me" - We need to stop for ourselves.

    3. "just don't cut" - if it were that simple don't you think we would do it?

    4. Non injuring contracts. SIV is a coping mechanism. It may very well be there ONLY coping skill. Until there is a new skill
    learned-practiced-implemented, the SIV will continue. (We don't ask babies to be born and get up and walk the same day. they learn to use there muscles first, roll over, crawl, stand, then walk. it is a slow gradual process.)

    Re-learning/learning healthy coping skills is hard work. It is not an overnight process, expect the SIV to continue as we work in therapy. In the cases of past trauma, it might actually increase as the past is dealt with.

    peace be the journey

    Paja

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    1. Yes. This.

      I was a cutter for a good part of high school and then a bit during my senior year of college. For me, the pain was this unbearably deep stabbing pain of loneliness that I didn't know how else to cope with. For me, it wasn't about the blood, but merely the pain to cover up the emotional pain. My mom was a social worker at a camp for troubled teens for a while, and she talked about the cutters there, yet never noticed it in me. I never got help, but life got better.

      I'm now 32 and at a lonely place again, and sometimes it's tempting.

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    2. I don't know if it will help anyone or not, but sometimes I try to take the pain and make it into art. Poetry, jewelry, whatever. And sometimes I draw it or write it, then burn it. I've never cut, but I've been tempted. I do pick sometimes, and dig my nails into my skin. But if I can get it out another way, it's better.

      Delete
    3. Thank you. I cannot say more than that - thank you, Paja.

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    4. Yes. Perfectly stated.
      For me, it was being able to see the blood. I was able to inflict it instead of allowing it to be inflicted upon me. I had all the control.
      At the time it felt like the only thing I could control in my life.

      My now husband, encouraged me to see a counselor. He encouraged me to make some great decisions in my life. There are horrible, rotten, no good days when I think about it, but I know I haven't done it for more than 5 years.

      Good luck. Remember, you are not alone. You are loved.
      Life sucks, sometimes no one understands but you how bad it sucks. But someone, out there, will listen to you and be that shoulder.
      Love you.

      Delete
    5. Thank you. Not enough people know that it really is a sign of bigger problems. My sister started cutting in 9th grade, turns out she's pretty sure she's transgender and was having a hell of a time coping. I'm much older than her, when I found out I went behind my mom's back and took her to the dr. and got a referral to a therapist who specialized in SIV. My mom finally got on board but it was hard for her to deal with. My sister isn't cured and still has gender identity issues but now we can talk about it. I love her and would take her pain away if I could.

      Delete
    6. This is the most truthful interpretation of this devastating cycle I have ever seen.
      My problems started when I was about 7. I was neglected as a child because of my dad's addiction problems and my mom's need to enable him. He chose his alcohol and drugs, and she chose . . . him.
      As an only child growing up in a household where you're expected to walk on eggshells to please someone else or just hide in your room and play by yourself, you come up with some messed coping skills. I used to slap myself and say ugly, cruel and completely untrue things to myself. I didn't start cutting until college. I dated a very narcissistic guy from senior year of high school for 10 YEARS who was just like my dad in the worst way possible: NEGLECTFUL.
      Neglect is a very powerful form of abuse. You feel worse than garbage . . . you're not worth the attention of someone who supposed to love you?? That has a cataclysmic affect on a psyche. There is NO perfect, but I darn well tried over the years.
      I started with light razor cuts on my legs, abdomen, upper arms (places where they could be hidden). If I was in a rage and the tsunami wave threatened to pull me under, I would bite myself, scratch myself, bang my head on walls -- anything to relieve the pressure. To feel something other that angst and self-hatred.
      And then I decided to swallow a bunch of pills and put an end to the negative thoughts and feelings. I passed out in a stupor, but somehow my body powered through and I woke up the next morning. I have never cried so hard as that morning in the shower -- I was actually disappointed that it hadn't worked.

      I finally was able to stop cutting around the same time that I dumped the creep, and now I am in a very positive relationship. He is sweet, loving, caring and kind. And I constantly tell myself I am not deserving and have moments where I lash out at him for it. As good as he makes me feel, there's still a voice that tells me "he will leave you, he won't love you when he really sees how messed up you are . . . you're ugly, fat stupid" and so on.
      But, he is a patient man, and he realizes that I have been broken. He is slowly showing me how to love myself as much as he loves me. To see all the wonderful things about me that he sees.
      Broken is a good word to describe how one feels when self-harm seems like a good idea. Just broken from life, broken from people treating you like dirt . . .
      But something that is broken can be mended. It takes a desire to just learn how to love yourself and have good people who care enough to see you get better.
      I have good days, and then I have days when I am desperate to see a glimmer of blood and feel the automatic release. But, I am holding myself to a higher plane of thought, and when the taunting starts in my head, I just tell it to shut up because I have better things to do with my life than listen to a bunch of crap. :D
      Life is a journey that we all take; some of us just have a bumpier road. But we all can make it, as long as we keep going. Big hugs to everyone who is posting!!
      Love you Jen and everything you do in your blog, you're an inspiration to all of us in different ways: crafter, DIYer, nerdy girls (and boys), survivors . . .

      Delete
  12. As a 40 something woman I recently started harming myself. I'm in the middle of a divorce and had some serious health scares as well. Blessedly I'm fine, but harming became something I could control. I started only a month ago and have been determined to stop. Loneliness and fear of loss of control are huge triggers at any age. I have recently dealt with difficult memories and the person I confided in has moved in from my life suddenly and painfully. Thank you for this posting, thank you everyone for sharing. I also have panic and anxiety, also new to me and I am learning we are not alone. So I will shine my light for those which feel lost, knowing when I am lost in the dark I will see all of your lights guiding me back.

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    1. you could be me. When I turned 40 ( just a time mark nothing to do with turning 40 ) I would cut myself. I have 4 beautiful well behaved children. I bury the feeling to cut constantly, but I made a promise to my children I would stop. And I will NOT break my promise to them. ( Their dad does it enough )So idk if it will help you, but let someone see what you are doing. SOmeone you love more than yourself and make that promise to them. It surely made a difference to me. What started me was emotional rollercoaster stemming from my relationship with my husband.

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    2. Thank you! I've had to face some huge realities about my past and my marriage. The decision to end is right, but frightening as well. My boys are my strength and the drive to stop harming is because of them.I had the misfortune of discovering when I went to my doctor for my new found anxiety(and new found breast lump, which is just a lump thank goodness) that Xanax causes depression in my case. So off meds and leaning on friends. Counting my blessings and openly owning my bad days. Then emergency appendectomy a month ago. My beat friend came to the hospital and brought me home afterwards. Recovery was more or less on my own. That's when harming myself started. Pain meds did not help and made it worse. I am meds free, harm free for a week and thinking that we are all amazingly strong people for what we shared here
      Thank you, my name is Kim and I'm glad to meet you all.

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    3. @ Kim - Just wanted to say that you're the first person I've heard of to also have Xanax cause depression. I call it a "kickback" depression in my case, since it always strikes about 12 hours after the pill wears off - but everyone I've asked who also takes Xanax has never had that affect, so I figured it was just me. It's nice to know I'm not the only one, although I certainly wouldn't wish it on anyone! Anyway, hugs and congrats on the one-week mark, and here's to many, many more!

      Delete
    4. @Jen, I actually went to my doctor and told her I was feeling worse with the Xanax. That I wasnt having panic and anxiety as much, but was so low and sad. She informed me that in a small number of people it can cause depression. Lucky us I suppose, what an awful experience it is to attempt to manage our anxiety to only feel worse later. I opened up on Facebook about the panic and anxiety and have discovered several friends also struggling. We are now our own cheerleading/support team. We are safe in admitting days we have a tough go. This is the only place I have admitted self harm. Mine has only been scratches, but the marks last awhile. I still haven't harmed since over a week and I take everyday as it comes. So here's to our struggles and the light we can shine for others! Thank you Jen, what a light you are!

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  13. **Eating Disorder/Self-harm Triggering**

    I struggled intensely with self-harm and an eating disorder for 12 years before finally committing to recovery. And I'm still working on teaching myself that I *do* matter, and I *do* deserve to be happy.
    I have to say though, being told to "give it time" or "it gets better" didn't help me. In fact, it did the opposite. After struggling a few years and still hurting so much, I started to use those phrases to punish myself even more. After all, if it was supposed to "get better" after leaving middle school, and after leaving high school, and after getting my bachelor's... then why did I still hate myself so much? It became a negative cycle of hurting myself because I hadn't "gotten better" yet, and hating myself for hurting myself, so I'd hurt more, then hate more, etc. Now, I instead say "You deserve better"

    I still struggle a LOT with my weight, and society really sucks in that fashion. I get many comments about how I "used to be so thin!" or how "great" I look in old pictures, and it takes everything I have to not shake the person and yell "MY BMI WAS 15. FIF-TEEN. THAT'S NOT GREAT LOOKING, THAT'S EMACIATED". It's also really hard to not take those comments as an insult/wish I looked like that still. Because like an old relationship, it's easy to remember the good parts and forget all the bad, and there are many many bad effects to being underweight.

    One hour at a time, we just have to get through one hour at a time.

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    1. You "looked great" in those old pictures because people's perceptions are skewed. The images that we see in the media are of 1% of the population with incredible metabolisms. And they're photoshopped. And sometimes they have eating disorders. A lot of the clothes today are designed to look great on the hanger. I'm not a hanger. I also don't have an incredible metabolism. However, my husband doesn't mind, my kids don't mind, and my boss doesn't mind. My dog doesn't mind.

      We spend so much time worrying about what other people think of us. People who think you looked better at BMI 15: they're WRONG. You DO deserve better. We all deserve to be happy, and lead fulfilling lives. If you're not there, spend some time trying to figure out where "there" is. If you hate your job, figure out what you'd like to do. If it's not something you can do for a living, do it as volunteer work in your spare time. If you like animals, volunteer at the local humane society. If you like children, volunteer at the school, or a recreation complex. If you like to draw, buy a sketchpad and commit yourself to doing it regularly. If you like music, turn it up and DANCE. If you don't know what you like, try things until you figure it out (community ed programs are good for that one, or check out youtube videos if you're on a budget). Life is short. Every day you deny yourself happiness is one you won't get back to do over later. Try to do something TODAY that makes you smile, or laugh. It's why I read cakewrecks every day.
      Thanks to Jen for creating a sane spot in an insane world.

      Delete
  14. I started self-harming at 12 years old. I'm now 29 and my arms and legs are covered in scars. I can't imagine being in a place where I could say "I will never cut myself again." but it is less frequent now that I have children. I really want to write a long thoughtful response to this post but I'm worried that talking and thinking about this too much is going to trigger me, so I'll just say thank you Jen for writing this post, and thank you for the trigger warning which gave me the ability to decide if I felt strong enough to read instead of being ambushed by it.

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  15. Thank you for posting this, Jen.
    I have struggled with depression, bullying, and my weight my whole life. I was made fun of in school for being to skinny and then when I hit puberty and got curves my family made me feel fat. DUe to that I created an eating disorder. I would eat just enough to prove i was eating, almost always under 1000 calories. And than I would get depressed and binge. It was a vicious circle and I did not even realize this is what was happening until last month. I am 25 years old and just realized I have an eating didorder. That is my self harm. I punished myself because my family was unhappy and took it out on me. That ends now. I am working on recovery and figuring out my triggers. I want to get healthy and not hurt myself in this way. I have an 8 month old son that deserves a happy, confident mama.

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  16. This is an incredibly meaningful post - I used to use my fingernails to dig holes in my palms to stop from hurting or screaming when I was in college. I have stopped, but it is only recently. I want to let everyone in triggery situations know about a helpful discussion on Making Light's website. They have a tradition called Dysfunctional Families Day where they share as much or little as they want, no judgment, no "you must be this damaged to ride" attitudes. There have been several Days with comment threads approaching 1000 comments. I have found much valuable advice and comfort from them. It is good not to be alone. The most recent Day is a few entries down on the website, but it is worth finding. Take care of yourselves.

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  17. *Self harm trigger that ended up going off into a my life story kind of thing* -Part one 'cause it won't let me post the whole thing.-

    I self harm. I tried so hard to stop and I did for several years. Things in my life have not been ideal for a while now and I snapped last month. All the things I've been feeling and just trying to push down and keep on going like nothing was wrong all came out at once and I don't know how to deal with emotions well. I know how to deal with an Exacto knife though and basically shredded my arm just to be able to feel pain that I know how to deal with. Most of them are healed and fading now, looks like some are going to stay longer and join the others that are already there. I feel so stupid and ashamed when I look at them. Part of me knows that it was a dumb thing to do. Part of me is pissed that I'm too much of a coward/pansy to cut deeper.
    Growing up, my home life was something I wouldn't wish on an enemy. I won't list everything that was bad so I'll just skim the surface and say that my family had this wonderful habit of bullying each other. Now that I'm older, I can look back on it and see this. All of us had to feel like the worse people ever and the only way we knew how to deal with it was to hurt someone else, each other. Well, in high school, I started to make sure I hurt myself more. The first time I cut myself was while I was babysitting. The kids were playing and knocked over a picture and the glass in the frame broke. After the kids were put to bed, I used a piece of that broken glass to cut my arm and it was such a release. I carried several razor blades in my wallet after that and used all of them at one point. I felt lost if I didn't have at least one blade hiding in there. One of the only things that got me through the day was sitting on the back step at night and holding a blade to my wrist, lost in my thoughts of how worthless and pathetic I was.
    Into my twenties, I started hanging around other people and made friends. It was a new thing for me and I didn't want to scare them off if they saw fresh cuts on my arm so I stopped for a little while. Then I had a break and slashed at my arm in front of some of them, and they didn't run away, they helped me. I went years without cutting, I even somehow made it through two abusive relationships in a row without cutting and thought that was my sign that I had beat it. But then I realised that those two relationships were just as bad as cutting because I stayed and took it telling myself I deserved it for being so worthless. It was my fault he hit me and treated me like I should be grateful he let me be around him. Those thoughts made me cut because of how stupid I was for wasting those years.

    -to be continued-

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  18. -part two-

    I eventually just told myself to stop and find some other way to deal with life. That's when I started to actually drink and it seemed like a good idea at the time 'cause I was always with friends and we were having fun so that was a great solution to my problems. Until I got kicked out of a club for being so drunk, I let an underage guy talk me into buying him shots. I just kind of stopped everything cold turkey but felt even more hollow than before because of this. I still don't know how I managed any of that. It certainly wasn't by talking my way through it. To this day I can't physically tell another people what is wrong, typing/texting is so much easier for me. I know i can't talk about feelings/emotions because that was something we were shown by example to hide in my family. I didn't even know any of my siblings felt anything like I did until recently seeing small Facebook posts from them that say something I've been feeling since childhood as well. Since we never talked about it and they always acted like nothing mattered, I had no idea. I'm almost 32 and I no idea how to have a real conversation with my own siblings and that's just not right! I know they go out and get wasted on their nights off work because and getting into fights trying to prove that they are better than someone else. I wonder what could have become of all of us if we got to grow up in a family that supported each other instead of knocking everyone down.
    And I totally went off on something different while talking about my self harm.
    Even after saying everything I've typed here and have never typed out or said before, I don't know if I'll be able to stop self harming. I don't think there is a cure, everything else is just a distraction until the next break and I have to make myself bleed in order to clear my mind. I see others that take pills and if it wasn't for the distraction of the pills, they would be finding some way to harm themselves and I can't bring myself to take the pills.
    Thanks for reading, whoever makes it through. I don't know if it makes me feel any better to get any of this out in the open or worse.
    Thanks to Jen for giving me a place to put this even though the rest of the blog is fun and amazing. Coming here and seeing a new post is always the highlight of my day.

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    1. You may not be able to speak your feelings but you certainly have written them clearly. I hope it helped you and I truly hope this hasn't made you feel worse.

      I wish I had useful advice but we're all on a different journey. What works for one may not for another. That being said: I write. I open a document and just let the words come out without care for sentence structure or spelling. I read it and the close it out; I never save it. This way, I can write the bad feelings and evil thoughts that it hurts me to have. Then, they're out of me and they're gone- no one can see them and judge me or be hurt by me.

      I hope you don't mind a virtual hug since it sounds cheesy- but this one is from my heart. (((hugs)))

      -Barbara Anne

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  19. My right arm is covered with scars. I usually tell people it was q car accident, but lately I've been telling them the truth - I had a very troubled time in high school. I was undiagnosed at the time (I have Asperger's) and I just hurt, so much, every day, all the time.

    It gets better.

    I promise.

    It gets so much better once your hormones calm down, and you're out of high school, and your brain starts functioning right for the first time in your life because you've finally grown all of your myelin sheath. I still struggle with depression and anxiety, but it's never been bad enough that I felt I needed to hurt myself since I was 21 or so. I still have the scars, but that's a part of me. That's who I was. And it got better.

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    1. Your story sounds so similar to mine...I also had undiagnosed Asperger's (diagnosed at 16) for much of my school life...I never cut, but I picked (and still pick, less now though) at my arms and face - any pimples, bumps, pulling hairs out...it was one of few ways I could deal with everything. I usually tell people that the bigger, more visible scars are from chickenpox...but most of them aren't. I made those marks.

      But you're right, it does get better. I can promise that too.

      This is part of my story here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/pauline-joy-chambers/youre-toodifferent-discrimination-against-people-with-invisible-disabilities-suc/10151200750907659

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  20. Beautifully written, Jen, and so needed right now. I've had suicidal thoughts before; had the urge one day while driving to school to just drive into an oncoming semi. Thankfully, I didn't do that. Later I would scratch myself and them blame it on an accident. I'm so grateful it wasn't worse. I put steps in place to keep myself from spiraling down. I've learned to give out a little love, because it multiplies and comes back. I'll send a text or an email expressing my love and appreciation to a friend or family member. It helps a lot. Small steps make big difference.

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  21. This especially strikes a chord with me...

    This past Saturday, I had an emotional/mental breakdown. It was rough. I was in so much pain, and felt so very overwhelmed, that I needed to feel something else. So I nearly scratched my left arm raw. I needed that physical pain to distract myself from the emotional pain I was going through. I've done it before, in moments of extreme stress. I'm not proud of it. But it was so bad this past Saturday that my husband had to put a sweatshirt on me and I had to tie the sleeves shut. My best friend and my husband ended up taking me for dinner when I calmed down - neither of them judged me, neither of them over-worried - it was what I needed. I dunno what I'd do without them.

    I have never talked about this except to my husband and my best friend. And knowing I'm not alone in dealing with this... *hugs everyone*

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  22. I’ve suffered from depression since I was 8, have struggled with weight issues for as long and have attempted suicide/thought about suicide for as long as I can remember. I self harm by ripping skin off the bottom of my feet because no one can see it when I wear shoes and I wear socks around home. two years ago I lost everything in flood and my whole life plan came crashing down sending me into a very dark place. I’ve hidden it from everyone but I spent nights just wanting to end it all. To top it all off I am in my early 30’s and have never been on a date. NEVER. While I watch friends flit from boyfriend to boyfriend, husband to husband, not appreciating what they have and I want to do is scream at them and tell them the love they found with their husband and kids is something I yearn for more than anything. I’ve joined dating sites and only seem to attract guys that are cruel or want a greencard. The loneliness is getting heavier and heavier and because of that weight that I managed to lose has crept back on, leaving me feeling extremely ugly, worthless and not worth anything. I don’t want to be alone any more but still somehow respect myself enough to not grab the nearest person just because they are there. Thoughts I managed to get control of are coming back and I’m tired. Very tired. Top it all off with a case of fibromyalgia and I’m slowly coming to the end of what strength I have left. The only reason I haven’t ended it all sooner is because I fear the pain and thoughts about what may lie on the other side if I succeed. Essentially I’m a bit of a mess but I’m still here, I’m still working, still smiling and still loving my friends because that’s what I do. I try to be kind to others because seeing them smile cheers me up. I know things will be better and understand this really should be a post about a win rather than a current failing but getting it off my chest seems to be helping. Thanks for listening.

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    1. Thank you for sharing this.
      I really hope that "getting it off your chest" helped you a bit. As you can see by the mass of posts on this topic, you are not alone.
      If you aren´t already I hope you consider counselling because dealing with everything you just posted on your own seems like the hardest thing to do.
      I am sorry I am not finding the right words, english is not my first language and sometimes the right thing to say just escapes me...
      *sending e-hugs your way*

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  23. Two weeks ago today I tried to take my own life. It was not for the first time either, but if it weren't for some amazing online friends, and a husband who refuses to give up on me, it would have been the last.

    I used to self harm by cutting myself on my legs and upper chest, places I could hide the cuts. I've also deliberately beaten myself with items and hit walls with such force my skin on my knuckles split open. I have scars on my upper arm and wrists from razor blades, and scars from burning myself with cigarettes.

    Self harm and suicidal tendencies are met with such stigma, sending someone who suffers from them into a bigger spiral of guilt and despair. Places like Post Secret, and this brave young man who took the blades, help us all to realize that someone cares, that we are valued and loved.

    When I was in an inpatient facility after my first suicide attempt at age 17 (1994), there was a young lady in there who was 12. It was also the second time she had been placed in there after trying to kill herself. I don't know what happened to her, but to realize that someone so young, with so much ahead of them was there, opened my eyes. At least for awhile.

    If nothing else, if you hurt that much, there are people you can call and reach out to. The suicide prevention wiki has a ton of links.

    My life is worth living, and so is yours.

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  24. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRqzOTwuDZc

    Because most everything I know I learned from musicals or standup comedy.

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  25. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was in middle school. I come from a family with a long history of mental illness, and I have had more than one relative commit suicide.

    My life has been far less than easy. I vividly remember the first time I considered self-harm. I was in fourth grade. As a teen, I did a lot of cutting. It wasn't like the "let's do this so people can see it and give me attention," because I always cut places that weren't visible. For example, cutting your thigh and then carrying a messenger bag is the worst idea.

    Now, as a quasi-adult, I've switched from cutting to getting tattoos and piercings. My justification has always been that I am in constant physical and mental pain. I have several health problems along with my various mental issues. The way I've always seen it, the pain I experience every day is completely out of my control. So, when I was cutting, or when I go out and blow $200+ on a new tattoo, it puts me in control of my own pain. Sometimes that's all I need: a little control over my life.

    I spoke about it with my psychiatrist, who hadn't ever thought of it that way, and I was commended for finding a way to hurt myself in a slightly more constructive way. Mostly because, honestly, my tattoos and piercings are AWESOME.

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  26. Thank you for this post. I have a daughter, 19, who self injures. I don't have words for that.

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    1. As a parent of a daughter who will be 19 someday and a former self-cutter myself, I can't even imagine how hard that is. I would never want my daughter to go through what I did, but as parents, there is so much that's out of our control, and that's so hard to deal with... Best wishes to you and your family.

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  27. Thank you. I'm between refills today and I needed this to get through. Just, thank you.

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  28. As a parent of a recovering self injurer, I have one bit of advice to friends and family members of these beautiful but lost souls. "Open your arms, not your mouth." Show them by your deeds, how very much you love them. Be their life line, be their support. Let them know that they are safe in your love. Keep the criticism to yourself, it only makes things worse. Show them that their feelings are important and help to teach them alternative ways to cope with stress.

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    1. Thank you for saying this.

      I have a daughter who will be 13 in a month, and she started cutting about a year ago. We were shocked and devastated to find out. My heart broke, because I have struggled with depression since I was 10. I cut two times myself, years ago, but it never became an addiction to me. My husband cut when he was younger, so though our lives are "normal", she comes by her issues honestly.

      This summer, after working through some things together, we thought she had stopped. I then discovered that she had been cutting on her hips and she now has scars. We have her in counseling and have made some changes. I am now homeschooling her so we can spend more 1:1 time together without her siblings. It has been a struggle, but it seems that she is recovering. We have always been loving, attentive parents who have provided love and support, but somehow this happened. I am terrified that anything I do that makes her angry will cause her to cut again.

      She did reveal that now, instead of cutting, she holds an ice cube in her hand and squeezes it!

      Delete
  29. I was horribly bullied for being smart - and one day I oh so intelligently decided that I could help myself by just.... not being smart anymore. So I started cutting school (ironically, since I had no friends to hang with, I cut school but went to the library...) and flunked all my exams.
    I still have mixed feelings about it, since in some ways they won - without my exam passes I didn't get the university / career thing I had wanted. I 'failed' and, I disappointed the oh so high hopes of my family and I still often feel like I failed myself.
    But in some-ways I won, because those last couple of years when I should have been at school, but wasn't, I also wasn't bullied nearly so much - I learnt a lot about my taste in books and made some of the best fictional friends a girl could find - and from those fictional friends I realised I wasn't alone, there were people in the world like me
    I still struggle. I still come upon a grey never ending slog, and I still feel like I will never be happy, like I don't know how to be. But some days are better - I have found non-fictional friends, I am doing a self-taught degree. I have succeeded in many ways, and I will do so in all the other ways too. Because I am better than them, and they always knew it - that was why they were so scared.

    and you're better than them too.

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    1. This is beautiful. I'm sorry for your losses (not getting career you wanted) but the lessons you learned were far more valuable. Thank you for sharing.

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  30. Bless you for posting this. That video hit home. I was bullied (at the time, they called it "teased") all through school, from 3rd grade on. I was diagnosed with major depression in high school & have been on meds since. If I go without, the depression (and now the fun addition of anxiety!) takes over. My husband is a saint & I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him. When I feel depressed I think of him & the rest of my family & friends and their love. It's hard to remember that at the time, though because all you can think is that they'd be better off without you. It's never true, though. The world is a better place because we're all still here.

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  31. Jen, thank you for (once again) for opening my eyes to something I've never really understood because I don't know anyone who self-harms. It sounds cheesy to say, but I really wish I could hug every single one of you, but I suppose these *hugs* will have to suffice. <3

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    1. It doesn't sound cheesy to say. I think the world would be a much better place if we all hugged a little more, spoke a little less, and said a few more good things to each other.

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  32. I'm a bruiser. I bruise the insides of my wrists when I can't get the data to make my mind stop racing when I am emotionally hurt. A simple, "Your worries are unfounded, I still absolutely adore you." is all it takes. I haven't bruised in a long time. I can't remember when I last did. But I know it is always there, just in case. It makes me sad, but it also makes me feel safe.

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  33. My self-harm is easily hidden and i didnt even think of it this way until recently. I'm 27 and I've been picking my scalp since I was 8 years old; almost always to the point of drawing blood, my scalp is constantly covered in sores and I have caused scalp infections this way. I very rarely get my hair cut because I'm too ashamed for anyone to see. It is my stress relief. I want to stop but haven't been able to for a period longer than 3 days. I'm working on it.

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    1. This could be a form of trichotillomania, something I have had on and off for ten years or so. No sooner do I notice I am doing it (in my case pulling at my hair) and bring my hand down, than the other creeps up. It is like having Jekyll and Hyde hands! There can be biochemical causes for this. For me it is caused by chronic lyme I didn't know I had until recently.

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    2. That's what it sounds like to me, too; it's worth remembering that self-harm can take many forms, and pulling of hair/compulsive scratching and picking is something that even animals do, when they're caged up somewhere and can't get out. I was lucky never to develop the hair-pulling, but I do compulsively search for imperfections and kinks in individual hairs then snap them off at that point, which has led to me having patches of shorter hair which looks very odd. The only thing I've found to help (apart from the long-term looking at why I feel trapped, of course), is wearing a ring at all times and forcing myself to twiddle that instead of playing with my hair. It keeps my fingers active and away from my head, at least. Good luck, both of you, and I hope you're getting good help for your lyme, 2nd Anon.

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  34. Thank you Jen.
    I've been dealing with self-harm in various forms since I was 7. I don't need to trigger myself or anyone else, so I won't go into details, but it just got worse over time and became something I absolutely depended on to get through the day. By high school I couldn't even make in through a whole day. But despite 2 suicide attempts, 4 hospitalizations, thousands of scars, and more medications and appointments than I can count, I'm here. I celebrated my 25th birthday a week ago. I never thought I'd make it that far. I also haven't cut myself or been hospitalized since Oct. 2011. It's been hard, and it's been lonely (outside of my therapist I don't feel comfortable telling people when I'm feeling bad), and my life may be far from "normal", but it's my life and I have the chance to make it great so I'm taking it. One day at a time.
    Thank you, and your commenters, as always for your open and honest sharing. If we could all just be a little more open about these things maybe they wouldn't be such a problem.

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  35. Wow.
    You never fail to move me. Thank you for sharing. All of it, and all of you.
    YOU. Are ALL. Beautiful.

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  36. I don't hurt myself physically. And so, usually, I find this kind of behavior hard to understand. Recently, I've realized that instead of cutting or jabbing or anything physical that would leave marks, I've instead coped with my life by getting pregnant, jumping from one abusive relationship to another, subsuming my feelings, morals, and wants to everyone around me because I didn't deserve anything better. I didn't deserve anything. I wasted the first 27 years of my life thinking I was ok because all of this made sense at the time.

    I've never felt in control of my life. It hurts to know so many other people feel this. And it hurts reading the many other ways to abuse yourself. Please, know you're loved. Please, know that it can get better.

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  37. Oh boy... we all have a nasty tabloid journalist in our minds trying to write up the juiciest fail story for our lives. "FAILS AGAIN! ____ proves they are a total loser!!!" Sometimes we've got to acknowledge that and just "be" the being we are before the story of our life. Every day we write new pages and chapters to build on the character for this book "The story of _____" (ourselves). Sometimes, we have to simply close that book and recognize that it's just a story and doesn't dictate who the underlying being is. Someone once said how we sometimes have these moments where we wake up and feel content and are a content being, then we realize "Oh, right, I'm THAT one, darn!" and then go on to be the character we think we have to be. Perhaps we should try to hold onto that moment a bit longer before we realize that. :)

    That said, I don't have any issues with being bullied or "not fitting in" (I guess that's one of the pleasures of being nearly 30), but sometimes it's so hard to find any meaning in life when you feel so alone, even with a partner. Having had to move around over the last few years, I have no sense of belonging or friends. I feel like "need to find friends!" but no one appeals to me, which makes me feel like I'm just weird or crazy and am refusing friends.

    I don't know that my partner understands how depressed I am at times or how to deal with it, so it's very encouraging -- at least it will be for today -- to know that I'm not alone, that other people feel the way I do sometimes, and that's Ok.

    Thanks, Jen.

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  38. This might sound really cheesy and a little creepy, but if you're reading this, I love you. I believe that every human being deserves the love and respect of every other human being, whether or not they measure up to one's ethical standards. So if you feel no one appreciates you, know that at least one person in the world loves you (although there are more people like me in the world than you may think!)

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    1. This made me channel the film 'V for Vendetta', and good on you. Such a wonderful sentiment that is sooo important for everyone to remember.
      Love back to you and forward on to everyone.

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  39. Jen, Thank you for this post. My youngest child was a 'cutter'. If you do it, seek out help, it's there. If you have a friend/child/loved one who does it, support them fully and help them get help. You ARE better than this! EVERY life has worth and beauty.

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  40. thank you so much for talking about this. i still fight with the urge regularly and it's really nice to know that i'm not alone in this world. i love you for writing this. i mean, i already did, but even moreso now.

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  41. The first time I cut was my sophomore year in college. I had done so well my freshman year (I graduated early, so I entered college at 17), and after that things went downhill. I started skipping class regularly and found myself avoiding any responsibilities like bills, etc. Anyone having any expectations of me was giving me a huge amount of anxiety, and I compensated by avoiding it completely. I somehow managed to hold down various jobs, but I quit school after 4 1/2 years and was about a semester shy of graduating.

    A lot of things came to a head when I was 23, and the memories of the physical release in harming myself became overwhelming, so I started again. At first it was my arm, but people noticed, so I started cutting my thighs. I also began to eat very little and lost about 35 pounds (I was overweight to begin with, though). Things were building and building in my brain and I didn't know what to do. One day while at work, I visualized myself using the industrial guillotine-type paper cutter to slice my wrists. Then I saw myself pulling out a gun and shooting myself in the head. I told my boss I was going to go to the hospital, and they called my dad. I was in for about 5 days, and diagnosed with bipolar disorder (which makes complete sense when I look back and track my symptoms).

    After this came the long process of trying to find a medication cocktail to keep me sane yet functioning. I lost my job shortly upon release, and was still cutting about once a week. My mom found out and said she'd kick me out if I did it again. Even though that's the last thing you should say to someone in my position, somehow I garnered enough strength from knowing it was 'wrong' and seeing my brain improving on various medications that I have not self-injured since then. That was 4 years ago. Yes, when I have really bad days I do still think about it. For a long time after I got my own apartment I only kept a pair of safety scissors (I'm an ardent cook, so I could have all the kitchen knives I wanted and wouldn't even think of 'messing them up' by using them to cut). Now I do crafts with an Exacto knife and no longer fear that I'm a hazard to myself. It's taken a long time to get to this point, and there's no guarantee it will stay this way, but for now I deal with my issues without taking it out on my body.

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  42. For the rest of my life I will have these scars.

    As I've gotten older I've been fortunate, and I've worked very hard to leave my old life behind me. I went back to school so I could pursue a job I loved. In that job I was blessed to be able to help young people struggling in many of the same ways I had struggled when I was their age. Even though I'd left the pain behind me a decade before, it was through helping others that I was able to heal the most.

    I never thought I could be "normal" or feel successful in life, but in both my personal and professional lives I am more fulfilled than I thought would be possible. My hope is that others don't give up on themselves, because there are better days ahead. It's hard work to get there, but if I could do it so can you.

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  43. I love that EPBOT has become a safe haven for so many people now. Anxiety, bullying, depression, self-harm, eating disorders...anything the world throws at us, we're all able to come here and find a supportive group of people, which is such an important thing to have at any stage of the recovery process.
    Personally, I like to think I'm on the tail end of recovery. For the last five years, I've dealt with anorexia, depression, self-harm, and severe anxiety, but last year (my senior year of high school) I met a guy. He's not my boyfriend because we're smart enough to know that neither of us is ready for that kind of relationship, but he is the only person that has promised not to let me push him away and actually kept up on that promise. He has been my best friend for over a year and just by being there and staying there, he's supported me through everything. For you Whovians that know what Rose did for the Doctor, that's what he's done for me. He showed me through his example that I am better than the blade or the hunger pains or the fear. I am worth more than that. I am more than that. And that is how I am going to live my life. Not on the edge of a knife.

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    1. Hooray for "Whovians", or should that be Who-ray?

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  44. I have a history of self harm, anxiety and suicide attempts when I was in middle school/high school. I'm 30 now and I though I "grew out" of it. Then some life changes taught me otherwise. I was trapped in a job that was slowly destroying me physically...after three years of taking the abuse because I had no other choice I decided I had enough and began applying elsewhere. It took a long time but finally I was hired somewhere else. For a short while I was so happy to be out of my hell-hole of a job. Then it began to dawn on me that my new job was even worse than my old job. And then I found myself thinking thoughts I hadn't felt in ages. Thoughts I promised myself I'd never think again. And now I'm trapped again and trying like hell to find another job, but even that feels just as hopeless. It took me three years to find THIS job...in all that time I never got so much as a call back from anywhere I applied. Which only feeds into the desperation I feel now. How long will it take this time? And how much longer can I survive my current job? Even if I find another job, will it be any better or worse? And on and on. And underneath all these questions lies the deep seated thought from my past that I fear more than anything: Maybe I just don't belong anywhere in the world.
    I have nothing to offer. I'm not talented, I'm not smart, I'm not pretty, I'm not skilled at anything. I'm not even healthy. Any interests or dreams I had died long ago and no amount of trying has managed to resurrect them. Most of all, I cannot afford to invest in new dreams. I cannot afford to be out of work. And I have but two options: To keep going forward until I break...or to break myself. I'm not sure which is winning.

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    1. Dearest Anonymous - I promise that you belong - otherwise you wouldn't be here to begin with. You are YOU - a wonderful expression of the uniqueness of life in this world. You are struggling - and that is okay and counts just as much as the happier times. Please hang in there - I'm rooting for YOU!

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  45. I have never self-harmed and didn't know very much about it, and I am learning a lot from the comments here. It really doesn't get talked often, and I think it can be a bit perplexing to those who haven't been in that place. Thank you for sharing.

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  46. I self-harmed when I was 15 years old. I would take a box cutter to my upper and inner thigh. I still have two very noticeable wounds on my upper thigh that remind me not to go back to that. I luckily had friends who took the blades away and talked me through it.

    After my father recently attempted suicide and was diagnosed with depression did I finally seek help for myself & learned that I took suffer from depression. People like you, Jenny Lawson & many other remind me that I am not alone in this battle. I wrote an email to Jenny about my wanting to start seeing someone professionally and she wrote back giving me the motivation to do so.
    Thank you all of you who are brave enough to share your stories and remind us all that although we may be misfits we are not alone, we are loved.

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  47. I'm a counselor, in part because I too used to self-harm. And, having been through that, I have a few words that I'd like to share with those who are struggling to take control of their lives: The scars you leave on your body won't heal the scars in your mind and heart. There are people who can help you, who genuinely want to make you feel loved and accepted. I am one of those people. If you feel overwhelmed with your life circumstances, please seek help. Almost every community has a counseling agency of some sort. We want to help, we want to accept you, and we want to see you overcome your demons. It takes a leap of faith. And I know you can do it.

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  48. I am not a self-harmer but I have dug scars into my hands during the occasional stressful life situation. Thankfully not often enough to make it a true problem.

    I do, however, have friends who have self-harmed and my heart aches for these wonderful people who feel a loss of control. I ache for those who feel that harming themselves is the answer.

    To all who self-harm let me add my voice - You Are Loved. You Are Valued. You Have Worth. If nothing else, I love you because you are my brothers and sisters. Because you are people. And you matter.

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  49. Sometimes, in the throes of a panic attack or crying fit brought on by the overwhelming feelings of self-hatred and worthlessness, I start pulling at my fingernails. I used to scratch myself, and then I graduated to cutting with razors. I don't have the razors anymore, and I can't decide if the fingernails are "okay" or not. The sharp sensation can sort of jolt me back into reality, and it doesn't leave scars or draw blood. As viable a coping mechanism as it seems right now, though, I can't help but worry I'm going to backslide soon. Not sure where I stand on this slippery slope.

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    1. Maybe you need to talk to someone and find more suitable footing? During my panic attacks I have found that you have to stop the spiraled thinking. One thought leads to another and then to another and the thoughts become more and more scary and more and more dark. What I did (and still do) is lie on the bathroom floor and stare up at the light fixture and just focus on that. Try digging into a stress ball or punching a pillow or something that takes the focus away from harming yourself.

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  50. I found this post from your tweet Jenny Lawson retweeted. I just wanted to thank you. While I had come across the video and the site earlier this week, your post and the comments have been very therapeutic. I am a cutter in recovery. I haven't cut in a few years, but sometimes the urge is there; I now am a compulsive picker, and I know in a way that that counts as self-harm as well. I've found that regular exercise and a truly supportive relationship have been the biggest help. But beyond that, knowing there are people out there who understand, who are recovered, who fight the good fight, and who withhold judgment - that is what is truly moving and inspirational. Thank you for this post.

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  51. For anyone else struggling, I hope you can read these comments and recognize you are not alone.

    I've struggled with depression, OCD, and anxiety since I was 15. I have always had problems with self-harm, but managed to hide it--and the scars, because physically hurting myself always felt better than the mental pain I was struggling with.

    I'd been doing well--really well, for a long time, and I thought I was better, but then my beloved Grandmother died (she was 93, she had a lovely life, I grieve for me, not for her) and I lost a major support structure in my life.

    Then, just over a year later, this summer, my cousin was killed in a mountain climbing accident.

    With those two incidents, all the depression and anxiety came crashing back down on me.

    I'm on meds. I have friends and a husband who love and support me, and I am so very lucky to have a job that both provides health insurance and is flexible--I've actually taken a couple mental health days over the past seven or eight months.

    I'm lucky, and I know I'm lucky, but that doesn't make the desire to hurt myself go away. It just makes me feel worse, knowing that if I did hurt myself, it would hurt family members who are already suffering deeply.

    But here's the thing, I know that (as the Bloggess says) depression is an f'ing liar.

    I've been through this before, and I'll probably go through it again, but each day that I get up is a win.

    I just have to remind myself to look for the small joys in life, and to rejoice when I have them, and remind myself that these small joys are what make life worth living.

    I also try to be very public about what I am going through (I write sometimes on my blog about my mental health struggles), because for so many years I felt alone and isolated and that the things I was thinking and feeling and doing were horrible and something only I went through.

    That's not true, and so I hope that when we share our stories and our past and the things that mortify and horrify us, someone else will read our stories and realize THEY ARE NOT ALONE.

    So to all of us suffering, be well and find joy where you can. And remember that we are not alone.

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  52. My dear friend's daughter, who is a dear friend in her own right, was abused at day care as a child. She has now been diagnosed with PTSD, an eating disorder, and she self harms. She has started a non-profit to raise awareness for those going through this. She is inspiring others while still stumbling along her own recovery. She amazes me and my heart hurts for all the pain she has been through, and is still going through.

    She is 15.

    She is not a professional, but she has been there. She IS there. You can find her on facebook at www.facebook.com/projecthope1 or find Project H.O.P.E (Hang On, Pain Ends) on tumblr.

    Thanks for this post Jen. <3

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  53. I have been meaning to post a long write up I had written a while back, but I always thought it would be just more rambling and let it sit in my drafts folder for months.

    The video you shared has been making the rounds on my facebook feed and I finally got around to posting what I wrote:

    http://drawingsaudade.blogspot.com/2013/02/doodle-205-on-bullying.html

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  54. I want to post a reply to each and every one of you saying "someone read this and cared about how you felt." Because I really did.

    -Barbara Anne

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  55. There was a youtube video I saw a couple of years ago on cutting that made me realize I wanted help. Not sure if I'm allowed to post video links or anything, but here it is if anyone would also like to see it:

    http://youtu.be/xMSiWDwUVO8

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  56. Thanks for posting this, and ((hugs)). I was a cutter for years - not even sure how long I did it. All through junior high and high school and beyond, for sure. I remember banging my head against the steering wheel so hard it left a knot. My daughter was around 4 years old at the time, so I would have been 36.

    For the most part I don't do it anymore, after all the stress of life and my poor self-image culminated in a serious illness that landed me in the hospital. Twice. With blood transfusions and chemotherapy. That was 8 years ago. I was 41. I knew I had to find ways to stop letting it get to me. Jen, your words echo what I tell myself every time I get in a bad place. "They were wrong."

    They really are wrong - those who tell you you're worthless or useless. Those who tell you you're not good enough or pretty enough. Please don't believe them. They're only people, just like you, and they have no right to pass judgment on you.

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  57. At 45 years old, after almost a lifetime of self-harm (including years of seemingly happy marriage), I have met the love of my life. I was with him for several months before I even realized that I no longer respond to sadness/hurt/upset by inflicting pain upon myself.

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  58. This isn't specifically about self-harm, but I'm putting this out there in hopes that someone who really needs to see this, does, as I could understand it leading to self-harm:

    I live with intrusive thoughts and OCD; essentially, obsessive-compulsive behavior without overt compulsions. On good days, it's being peppered every few minutes with hateful intrusive thoughts. On the very bad days, it's a surround-sound of obscenity in your brain. It's a deep, shameful pain that's difficult to escape because it's entirely internalized. You think the things you revile the most; you're tormented by the fear you're becoming someone you're not, or doing something that disgusts/horrifies you. It's not a case of 'voices in the head', but of your own thoughts, from your own mind. And the more you try to stop the thoughts, the worse they assault you.

    I'm posting this because I wish I'd known about it ten years ago, rather than beating my head against it for as long as I have. If this sounds anything like you, and you've never considered that you might have OCD, please, for your own sake, look it up. It's vicious, but very treatable with time and effort (medication helps, but ERP therapy is equally effective in most cases).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intrusive_thoughts

    A caution here: excessively researching your particular obsession and articles associated with it can become a compulsion or reassurance ritual in and of itself when done to relieve your fears. Research enough to understand, then keep away from anything more. A good book or two, like The OCD Workbook by Bruce Hyman and The Imp of the Mind by Dr. Lee Baer, provides a stronger alternative as both are available on ebook (for your own privacy) and will give you the treatment info you need without feeding your obsessions with more material. If you do seek a therapist, make sure that they're familiar with the treatment of OCD, and have experience with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure and Response Prevention. Talk therapy is good for finally venting everything, but you need the help of someone who can help in a concrete way. If talking about your obsessions is difficult, take your workbook or a printout from an article describing your symptoms and use that as a starting point.

    I'm much improved from six months ago; the thoughts often left me unable to concentrate, afraid to be around my friends, afraid to watch TV- even afraid of dreaming, after a bad day. Now, it's like the volume's been turned down from a ten to a three. I still wake up to it every morning, but I can live and enjoy life. It might shout now and then, but it doesn't own me.

    I hope this helps some of you out there. God bless <3

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  59. I struggle with anxiety and depression. I've never "been good enough" for myself and would punish myself for little mistakes I would make. I used to steal pushpins off bulletin boards and stick them into my palm and walk around with closed fists. I did this all through college and never told anyone.

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  60. Shane Koyczan is an amazing artist. He opened the 2010 Winter Olympics and inspired and entire country with his words. To hear his story and realize what he overcame makes me even proud to call him a fellow Canadian and so thankful that he never gave up. He is such a gift.

    My daughter, who is also an amazing artist, is a cutter, she has been for a couple of years. As a parent it is terrifying and confusing. It absolutely breaks my heart to think of how bad she must feel to do what she does to herself. I know we have a long road ahead of us as we attempt to deal with our issues and work towards getting her healthy. Thank you all for sharing your stories, it helps us both to know that we are not alone.

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  61. Thank you Jenn, for promoting awareness.

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  62. I self-harmed in high school, switched to anorexia in university. I have recovered from the eating disorder, but I still have self-harming urges sometimes. I tried snapping rubber bands on my wrist instead of cutting, but I would snap the rubber bands so savagely that they left huge red welts on my skin for days. Very satisfying, but also very noticeable. Now when I am in a mood to punish myself, I smoke. I am not a smoker, and I have asthma. There is a certain amount of physical pain involved. But it's a lot easier to brush off - "yeah, I smoke sometimes when I'm feeling stressed." Sometimes it even gets me talking to someone, so I wind up in a better state than I started. Talking can make things seem so much better, but it is so so hard to start.

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  63. I've self harmed for as long as I can remember, although I remember first being called out about it by my teacher in 4th grade. I have bad skin (not acne but sort of like that,) and I pick at my skin, a lot. My teacher had noticed my arms, and of course I was embarrassed about it, but have never really stopped doing it, and I'm 32 now. I've always had pretty long finger nails too, so I was able to do quite a bit of damage. Sometimes my arms and legs would both be covered in scabs. The worst episodes are usually connected to stress, and I've had anxiety problems since I was in 3rd grade at least. I had contemplated suicide in high school, but never did anything more serious to hurt myself. I try not to self harm in front of my kids because I don't want them to think that that is an OK way to handle stress. I can't see myself ever completely stopping, though. I try to tell myself that other people can't see the scars, but I know they can.

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  64. Jen, I cannot tell you how much this post means to me.

    "I know there are a lot of young girls and guys reading this who are facing the hardest struggles of their lives right now, and I know there are older girls and guys who feel more lost than they think they can handle. If that's you, then I just wanted to say that you are loved, you are valued, and there are better ways to regain control of your life than through self-destruction. In short, we are better than that."

    That. Right there? Not enough words.

    Thank you, from the bottom of my bruised and battered heart.

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  65. I teach middle school, and we often have students who cut themselves. I usually find out through concerned friends telling me about it. I've always struggled with understanding. Thank you for opening my eyes to the emotional onslaught that these students face on a daily basis.

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  66. I did the same thing in high school, but would scratch my fingers in long stripes down the inside of my arms when the other kids said things, because crying was just a sign of weakness. Didn't become a problem until I was in art school for college. Lost it one night and stabbed myself in the arm with my drawing pencils. That was when I started to think I might need help.

    Thank you, so much, for this post. You have a reach and a touch that is greater than you can realize.

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  67. The background on my computer reads, "Your Gollum sucks. You don't. Don't let her win." as a constant reminder to myself to not listen to that voice.

    I think that's the worst part, the voice. I grew up feeling like I was never EVER good enough (my mother made me feel that way a lot, and being an anti-social nerdy kid didn't help matter at school either,) and self-harmed a lot in high school and the earlier parts of college. I've stopped now, for years, but the urge is still there a lot of the time. But the worst part, as I've said, is the Voice. It's like I turned all the things everyone has ever said into a person and stuck her inside of me, so that she can leer and prod and poke whenever I fail at something, whenever I attempt something, whenever I accomplish something. I feel invisible sometimes, because it's so hard to explain to most people that I am daily fighting a battle against myself. Some days are easier than others, but reading certain posts here and PostSecret and having the love of my friends to remind me that I AM a good person, I AM loved, and that I have worth, is one of the things that keeps me going.

    Sorry this is so discombobulated, but I just wanted to say thank you.

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    1. I know that voice. There is a book called "Women who run with the wolves," by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes. It really, really helped me learn to identify those 'other' voices and how to handle them. xxx

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    2. "Don't Let Me Get Me" song by Pink. May not fit 100%, but the message is still the same. The ever-present Voice gets too loud sometimes, but you're not alone. My Voice drowns out my Present with everything I've done wrong in the Past most days, but appreciate the days your Voice is silent.

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  68. My husband's arms and shoulders are sprinkled with scars resulting from attempts to cope with undiagnosed bipolar for ten years. Some of them are faint and starting to blend in with the new flesh around them. Others were far too deep to completely heal, and that's okay. We don't come out of tragedy and illness the same people as we thought we were before it all caved in. He tells me he appreciates the reminders of all that he has survived, battle wounds from a civil war of the mind. It's been over 5 years since he was able to stop and being a part of his recovery has been an honor.

    Thank you for talking about this topic, Jen. The stigma of this and any mental illness creates a chasm between those who need support and resources that can help them. The more people are willing to brave being honest, the closer we inch to an accepting and supportive society. I truly admire that you choose to be so brave, honest, and demanding of your expectations for social change.

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  69. That video hit me hard. Sure I've never thought about cutting, never been abused, never had an eating disorder (even though the other day some of my friends call me anorexic, jokingly, but it still hurt). But I had been teased constantly since second grade, me and my best friend both. We were both the nerds in our class, who had skipped a grade and just didn't fit in. It was the "he's a boy and you're a girl and you must be boyfriend and girlfriend and love each other" type of teasing. I had gotten used to ignoring it, until it turned into rumors, and name calling and lies, and "jokes" (writing "I <3 *insert best friends name here* all over my stuff and pointing it out to people saying that I did it). People got meaner and started doing stuff like pulling chairs out from under me etc. They would not stop no matter what I said or did or who I told. I don't know what my friend went through, but I'm pretty sure it was similar. It started driving our friendship apart in 5th grade. Then I moved, and part of me was grateful. But our friendship isn't as strong as before. 
    Their never ending teasing made me afraid. Afraid of doing or saying almost anything, for fear of getting ridiculed and the whole thing starting over again. For fear of rejection and being all alone. (geek moment: Doctor Who quote: "Would you prefer to be alone? I don't think anyone would prefer that.") I closed up inside myself. Luckily I found some amazing best friends and my space place to bring me back to myself. 
    Now I moved away again from my amazing best friends, and my space place was closed. It's open again, but struggling, and I will probably never be able to go back to it again. 
    I know that I have people around me who care about me and will support me.

    I know that something like this doesn't compare to what some people have been through. The video was very true though with saying "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." is not accurate at all :) I know it feels like you're alone BUT YOU AREN'T. And it's amazing. There will always be people out there that have been through what you have for you to talk to and to lean on when times get rough and tough. 
    We can all prove them wrong

    If anyone out there feels down, or hopeless, or lost, or anything like that:
    I believe in you
    <3

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    Replies
    1. The sticks and stones saying always remind me of the lines from Tim Minchin's song "Prejudice":

      So never underestimate
      The power that language imparts
      Sticks and stones may break your bones
      But words can break hearts.

      Whoever came up with the original saying had some serious issues.

      Delete
  70. I'm with all you on the fingernail into hand thing. I dig my nails into my palm while my hand's in a fist to channel the crying that's going to come, or the flash of anger/frustration, atleast until I can go scream into a pillow. I know I shouldn't but...It's a little better then becoming an emotional mess and the everyones like "why are you crying?" etc... And trying to explain it makes it sound stupid and uncalled for, but it isn't.
    Im so glad and thankful you posted this.

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  71. Wow...

    I've had emotional/mental torments since I was a child that were untreated (and, though it pains me to say this, perhaps caused) by my parents, paving the way to a life of unhealthy behaviors including weight problems and eating disorders, plus horrendous self-esteem, social awkwardness and anxiety, terrible relationship choices, loneliness, and continued emotional/mental torments. On the outside, my friends know me as a goofy person with some idiosyncrasies. Behind closed doors, I'm a mess. Somehow, I've stayed functional - it's been a struggle to do so - but that belies to outside world what I have endured, and continue to do endure.

    Children are perceptive creatures, and often terribly cruel. They're great at spotting the weak and vulnerable children such as myself, and making our lives even more miserable than they are. I was the last kid (or 2nd to last) picked in gym class. I was made fun of on the bus, on the playground, and so on.

    One of the most tormenting of my self-harming behaviors (thankfully, none of my behaviors have been violent) has been pulling my hair out. I was shocked when I learned many years ago that pulling out hair had a name: trichotillomania. I started pulling out my hair at 16, and, at 40+, I am still doing it, but thank God, much less than I ever have. I'd focus on one spot, which would become bald over one to a few days, or perhaps a week or two, then take a break for a few months, only to start pulling hair out and getting another bald spot again. Pulling out my hair has rarely hurt; I've usually felt relief each time that has compelled me to keep pulling. It was agony trying to figure out how to wear my hair in a way to cover up the fact that I'd pulled out my bangs, or the hair on the side of my head, or on the top or sides of my head, or...the list kept going. I'd use mascara and eyeliner to help cover up the bald spots as well. Windy days were the worst.

    Thinking about the multiple times particular parts of my head were bald, I have no doubt that I have pulled out at least two full heads of my hair. It could be as high as four.

    Due to the hair-pulling, I haven't had my hair cut professionally since 1994. I'm too embarrassed for a stylist to see the patches. Though again, thanks be to God, I have improved quite a bit. I haven't had any therapy or any treatment of any kind; but I'll just say that events of the past few years, and, who knows, maybe hormonal changes at my age, have contributed to an improvement that I pray lasts, or, my being greedy, gets even better.

    Thanks, Jen, for giving us this space to share, and sharing your own experience.

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  72. "Impossible" by Kate Earl
    no matter how hard
    no matter how tough
    there is no turning back
    no way you’ll ever give up on me
    no matter how dark
    no matter how deep
    the challenges may be
    you’re gonna find me right here
    always right beside you

    what ever curve
    life may throw
    we’re in it together
    cause you and i
    are building our dream

    they say impossible
    they say it can’t be done
    can’t break us down cause we’re unstoppable
    they say too difficult
    that it could never work
    they think that we’ve been tryin for too long
    but i know better
    i know that we’re about to show them all

    no matter how sick
    no matter how tired
    frustrated i become
    you never let me give into that

    no matter who sees
    no matter who thinks
    that they can put you down
    go on and hold your head high honey
    circumstances for worse or better
    are no excuse to forfeit our dreams

    they say impossible
    they say it can’t be done
    can’t break us down cause we’re unstoppable
    they say too difficult
    that it could never work
    they think that we’ve been tryin for too long

    they can say what they want to
    anyway it never matters what they think
    they’re still blind and we’re still free
    i know i know i know...

    they say impossible
    they say it can’t be done
    can’t break us down cause we’re unstoppable
    they say too difficult
    that it could never work
    they think that we’ve been tryin for too long
    but i know better
    but i know we’ll prove them wrong
    cause i know better
    i know that we’re about to show them all

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  73. Wow. Do you see what's happening here? So many beautiful souls, just FULL of compassion. My hope, with all my heart, is that we may learn to be as caring and compassionate with ourselves as we are with others. My tears now are from both the sadness I hear/feel in so many if your words...and the warmth I feel from this willingness to share so openly. And because of Jen and Jenny, and their enormous courage in writing so
    truthfully. And beautifully.

    The big lesson here, as I see it anyway, is that we're
    finally having an honest and open dialogue about things that, in the past, were NEVER spoken of. (How agonizing that must have been...). So, progress.
    And I think a big reason for that is that we've all known
    so much pain and loneliness, we don't ever want anyone else hurting or feeling the same. And we're finally saying, "Not in our watch.

    So, when any of you are feeling that agonizing sense of not being good enough...low and hating yourself and holding all the pain inside...remember this. Because no
    one hateful or ugly reaches out in this way. And it's just
    one more reminder that we really ARE connected -- even when our pain is lying To us and telling us otherwise. How else does one explain this outpouring of support, and to people we've never even met? If we really were alone, just a bunch of random molecules floating around in a random way, THIS would not be. We wouldn't care or feel the need to reach out. So, let its purpose be served. Let us remember that we ARE loved. We ARE worthy. And
    this is the proof.

    So, thank you all. And thank you, Jen and Jenny. I'm going to bed tonight feeling hopeful, and that's pretty great.

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  74. Does head-scratching and nail/cuticle picking really count as self-harm? I remember my mom taking away my cuticle cutter when I was a teenager because she thought that I was intentionally making myself bleed. I always associated it more with OCD than anything. I do it because I'm nervous, because my nails or cuticles are uneven or feel too rough.

    I've only intentionally self-harmed once or twice, and that was scratching my arms. I have been tempted to cut for years but always feared scarring, serious injury, or the stigma of being known as a cutter. Sometimes just imagining harming myself felt good. I went through a really rough period recently where depression and anxiety built up to the point where I had a break down at work and was sent home. I lost the first job I truly enjoyed over that incident. I ended up finding another job, getting therapy, and taking an increased dose of medication from what I was previously on. I am doing so much better, both in terms of mood and productivity. I know sometimes it can feel like getting help won't work, but if one thing doesn't work, try another. You deserve to feel better, and you can. I wouldn't wish severe depression on my worst enemy.

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  75. I can't bring myself to say more than just Thank You. But its a very heartfelt Thank You.

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  76. I just want to thank you for this. I saw the video just yesterday and nearly sobbed my eyes out. I'm a woman with Asperger's Syndrome mixed with severe Clinical Depression. I started self-harming at the age of eight. For the longest time, I didn't understand why I WANTED to break bones and need stitches, but eventually it evolved into a more direct self-harm. I won't go into distinct details, since I would hate to ever trigger someone, but suffice it to say, that I do not wear long sleeves or shorts due to embarrassment. In high school, I got involved in a highly abusive relationship, and as a result, I have a word carved into both of my wrists.. a word no woman should ever be called.. It's the hardest thing I ever do to share this with people, because I'm ashamed that I would let someone else influence me to the point of leaving permanent reminders, but that is past.

    After three suicide attempts and almost 13 years of fighting against myself, I celebrated my 21st birthday in January - something I never thought I'd ever do. I have a boyfriend who not only accepts the fact that I am scarred, but thinks I'm beautiful despite them and understands why they are there. I'm not "cured". Its something I'll fight with all of my life, but I do know that there is light in dark places. Sometimes all it requires is asking for help.

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  77. I am sorry. This comment will probably offend people and inflame their feelings. That is not my intention. But I did (and sometimes do) cut, and I want to share my own experience with it.

    I also feel like this is a kind of safe space, so please don't prove me wrong.

    I came to cutting late, but it was at time of very deep depression and anxiety for me.

    It's not all the time, but on the really down days - the ones where I am in tears or on the verge of tears all day. It makes me feel better. I have heard other cutters talk about it as a physical manifestation of their interior pain, but it doesn't feel like that for me. I some ways it's closer to self-flagellation. It's not about the guilt and shame of the body, but there is an element of bidding farewell to the flesh. It's excoriation.

    But here is the dirty little secret (for me at least) - it feels good. Not the actual cutting of course, but the sensations connected with the act.

    First, you are so anxious, tearful, shaky - desperate for relief.

    Next, the anticipation of picking up the knife - relief is coming!

    Then the cut - not deep, but you can feel with your fingers as the blade cuts through the skin. The tension, the texture as the blade goes through the skin, to just under the dermal layer. You're doing it right.

    A few more cuts, then breathe as the blood starts to slowly seep out.

    That's when the relief happens - a general relaxing of anxiety that I can only compare to the post orgasmic state. Obviously some brain chemicals at work, but it feels good.

    Afterward, the cuts are so shallow that you don't really notice them hurting. But the relief lasts for a pretty good amount of time, and the cuts remind you to cope, plus the irritation echoes the original feelings of release.

    I know this isn't very healthy. But it is a quick cure, and one that doesn't involve drugs or alcohol. And as things have gotten better, it's been less and less. My scars are almost gone now (I would cut over the same spots, just to organize associated pains). And in some ways, I miss them. My pain is part of who I am - even the bad memories are still mine. To remember - this hurt so much I had to carve it into my arm, but now it's better. Isn't that worth remembering?

    But i hide it. It's not socially acceptable, in any way shape or form. I wonder, though - if I were into S&M, or self flagellation for religious purposes, would people judge me the same way? Probably not.

    But getting satisfaction from a tiny little cut? That's just sick, man.

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  78. I. LOVE. YOU. ALL

    All of you wonderful amazing people.

    LOVE

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  79. My sister began to want to cut herself after her third child as part of post partum depression. For the first time in her life she understood my battle with depression since I was young. It turns out we both have a hereditary condition known as pyroluria that expresses itself in different ways in different people. My oldest niece has it too and I saw her deal with so much like I did, till we found out about this condition. Looking back, I can see how early it began to shape me. I would urge anyone with depression, self harming, anxiety, OCD type behaviours, or alcohol and drug abuse issues to look into pyroluria and even Dr Yasko's methylation research. Supplementing certain nutrients can make amazing changes for people with pyroluria. Not all docs know about it so do your own research.

    For those dealing with these issues, hang in there, it really does get better as you get older! They say age is only for the tough but I think it is youth that requires the most courage. xxx

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    Replies
    1. Oh.my.gosh. Thank-you for bringing attention to pyroluria! I have never heard of it before. I have been teary reading the original post as well as the comments. I have struggled with depression for most of my life (I'm 35)...sometimes it's so mild I am barely aware of it, and other times it has been crushing. I was a cutter briefly in high school, and attempted suicide at 19. I did some therapy and was on anti-depressants for a few years.

      Fast forward to now...I'm blessed to have a happy marriage and 4 wonderful children. I still struggle against myself, but it's generally okay on a daily basis. However, my eldest child worries me. I see signs that he may be like me. I quickly read over the list of symptoms associated with pyroluria and I have nearly all of them! (My children seem to have many as well.)

      I am shocked that I haven't come across this information before as I read a lot about nutrition...but apparently I need to read a LOT more! Thank you!!!

      And thank you, Jen for doing what you do :)

      Delete
  80. After thirty years of daily self harming I now have three years clean. I didn't ever think it possible but there is help and hope for us all.

    There is a good online support in an organisation called Self Mutilators Anonymous. It follows the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Meeting can be found at stepchat.com

    We do not have to be our past :-)

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  81. my scars are why I like the cold weather. I don't want to have to explain them to anyone. I wish I weren't ashamed. I am not that person anymore. But they are there, reminders of who I was, and what I did. My shame.

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  82. Years ago, I remember when one of my friends was worried that her daughter (3rd grade) was self harming. She was right to worry, but both then and in the intervening years, it has come to my attention that so much of the anxiety around self harm is on the outward signs and not on the internal trauma.

    In other words, who cares what the neighbors think.

    If you see, help. Be kind. Forgive. Accept. It may do nothing and it may do more than you think.

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  83. I have lived away from home for five years now. Over the summer my beautiful baby sister showed me the scars she gave herself from digging her nails into her arm when things got too much. It broke my heart. Even though I worry about her all the time, though I call her and talk to her and try to give her all the love I have in me, she still couldn't cope alone. And she shouldn't have to. My whole family is close and supportive: of her with her problems, of my brother with his bipolar disorder, of me with my depression. My parents have their own troubles and we support them through those too.
    There is always someone willing to listen. Family, friends, or a complete stranger on the internet. Find them, talk to them.
    You are not alone.

    ReplyDelete
  84. Thank you Jen for posting this, and starting off such an enlightened discussion.

    I think the number one important thing for anyone thinking to post, is to realise, there are people who care enough about you to read your post. To read every single response. Because I did, I read every single one and sometimes my heart broke for what you wrote. Because I know what it's like. And how you can feel so isolated about it. And no one else feels that way. But loads of us know what's it, and what it feels like.

    I feel a bit like the odd man out, because my self harm was to burn myself. I started smoking 'for the stress' and I would either stub out the cigarette on the soles of my feet, or give myself 'smilies' from my lighter. I never had the urge to cut, but I would bite my arms til they bruised. Scratch my skin til it bled. Not eat for a week.

    I am so glad that at the time, I knew something was wrong. I had gone to a psychologist, who referred me back to a doctor. The doctor prescribed me antidepressents, and the psychologist listened to me unburden my thoughts. I needed the combination of both to 'fix' me.

    I never told my friends, or my family. To this day, I don't know if they know I was depressed. I think some of them have suspected, but we have never discussed it. But I did find someone to talk to and it was the best thing for me.

    I have never suffered depression as bad as that again, and I haven't self harmed in years. When I get stressed and anxious and feel like I need to just stop - stop thinking, stop feeling - I sometimes try it and I can't do it. I can't go through with it. Sometimes I look back and I am amazed that I did it at the time because it seems just "crazy" that anyone would do it. And yet, I know I did, because I have the scars to remind me. And I still rememeber the feeling and how much it helped, because I hurt so much. I just hurt.

    It is so hard to explain to someone who has never self harmed, what it is like, and how it is helping. As I read everyone's posts, I was reminded of some of the things I used to do, and had completely forgotten about. And because I no longer do it, and don't feel I will need go back to it anytime soon, I feel like I'm in the 'non self harmer/never has been' catagory. I can see how from the outside, our behaviour seems so unnatural and extreme and unreal. It's been so long since I have needed to harm, that I had practically forgotton how extreme your feelings are to bring you to that point. And yet I know there are thousands of people who feel that everyday and I can more than sympathise - I empathise. Because I do understand just how much it helps, and its more than just a plea for attention. It's also a way of self-healing.

    I'm sorry if this post has upset people. And if it doesn't make sense. I'm trying so hard to put into words what I'm trying to express. That there are people out there who 'get' it. Who feel what you feel and do what you do. And there is nothing wrong with you for it.

    Once more, I need to thank you Jen for posting this. It's reminded me that there are other people who go through this.

    ReplyDelete
  85. I probably shouldn't write this on here, because I don't think I am worthy of the same feelings as some other post here, I have never cut myself or anything, too much of a wuss, but I have thought about it,and I did try to kill myself with a bunch of pills one time, but I didn't have enough. I do hurt myself in other ways, I eat a lot, and I smoke, I want to quit, but then things happen and I want to smoke more, I guess I am trying to kill myself slowly. I hate myself, I have forever, I try so hard to be a good person, but I always feel like I am not good enough. My husband and I have been married for over 11 years, and we have 3 kids. Ever since we have been together he would talk to other girls on the internet, and tell me it was all just harmless fun, then a person who was my best friend in high school came back to town and I felt like I had some unresolved sexual feelings for her, so we got together a few times and messed around, my husband said to do it, if it was what I wanted and the first time I did and came home and told him, his heart was broken, he said he didn't think I would actually go through with it. I then told him that he should go to be with her, since they had been talking and texting a lot and I could tell he had feelings for her, so he did, and every time he would leave to be with her I would sit outside chain smoking and crying and waiting for him to come back. A few times he stayed the night with her, I could only sit and think about how it was all my fault. I hated myself even more and really wished I could die. That all finally ended and we were getting back to good. I still love him so much and can't imagine my life without him, we will always be together, I will never leave him, and I think he will never leave me. So a few weeks ago I noticed he was texting this girl he works with a lot, and they were flirty and stuff, I told him to do whatever he wants. Anyway, last night he was really upset and he told me that something happened, that he told her how he feels about her and I guess she didn't feel the same, so I tried to get him to talk to me, and of course he wouldn't. He did write on a social network site we go on that he needed a good cry last night, that I saw this morning, so I asked him why he didn't talk to me about it, and he said he didn't think I would want to hear about how his heart was broken. I hate this and I want to go away and never look back, but I can't do that I love my family too much to have it fall apart. I really wish I could go back and not do the things I did, because I feel as if I have lost my husband and my best friend. I really have no idea where this is all going, I guess I just needed to vent. Please don't judge me or him, I know we are imperfect people, and I know I sound like a whiny bitch. I love him, I just wish I was enough for him, I will never think of doing the things I did with my old friend again, I just want my husband to only be mine and for me to only be his. I am sorry for taking up space on these comments. I hope all of the people who wrote above me find peace with their situations and find ways to make their lives easier.

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    Replies
    1. Do not apologize - you are not wasting space. Pain is pain, no matter how it is exhibited. I have spent years hating myself. It is not easy to change, and I may never fully change. It is hard to tell yourself that you deserve to not feel that way, but I am trying. Some days are hard, some days less so, but I do it for the kids. Eventually, I hope to do it for myself. Please know that your post touched me deeply - I lurk, I never write. I want you to know that I understand what you wrote, I know why you wrote it, and I hold no judgement - just hope. Hope that you too will find peace for you and those you love. With love and understanding, Sandra

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    2. thank you for what you said, I try so hard to feel better about myself because I have 3 kids and my oldest is a girl, I want her to feel good about herself and grow up knowing she is loved (something I never had), it is because of my kids that I am still here, I know if it wasn't for them all this stuff with me and my husband would have killed me long ago.

      Delete
  86. Thanks for posting this. I don't hurt myself but this is exactly what i needed to hear right now.

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  87. Thank you for posting this blog entry. I was never bullied in school, but I did deal with verbal abuse in other aspects of my life. From a very young age (13) I began hurting myself. I don't think I ever realized why I was doing it, but looking back on it now I think I was searching for a way to have some sort of control over my life and physically feel something. I was able to make myself stop, but began again a few years later in high school. It became an addiction. I would do it every night and I would HAVE to do it, I couldn't stop myself no matter how bad I wanted to. This culminated in a massive breakdown which resulted in years of anti-depressants, therapy, anti-anxiety meds, and heavy duty anti-addiction meds. I was thankfully able to pull out of that deep pit of self hatred, but it was not easy. Several years later I found myself in a bad relationship and caught myself cutting again. It was at that point that I realized I had to get out and create a better life for myself.
    I still have scars, but I am happy to say that it has been years since the last time I hurt myself, and I've felt no desire to do so.
    It's a tough journey, but the key is to surround yourself with people who love you for who you are. People that you feel comfortable sharing your problems with and that are supportive of you on your road to healing.
    YOU ARE ALL LOVED!

    ReplyDelete
  88. I have a teenage son who has episodes of self-targeted rage. He hasn't gotten to cutting but he sometimes repeatedly slaps himself. I don't know how to interrupt him when he's in that state. I've been told middle school is harder than high school, although that's hard to believe. I am afraid how much worse it will get. Yes he has a psychiatrist and is on meds. I hope he'll get through it whole.

    I'm on antidepressants and Ambien. The other night, I wasn't completely knocked out when I realized my husband was molesting me. He's apparently been taking advantage of the date rape type zonkedness of Ambien to take what he wants. Do I feel safe sleeping now? Uh, no. And I'm realizing that just 4 hours a night is probably going to send me into mania. Yesterday I felt like getting a gun but then the question of who to shoot first just wouldn't go away. I'm "better" today, i.e. more zoned out, muffled. But I am afraid that any change in our family situation could destroy my son, and then me, and then my husband, and then my sweet innocent daughter gets fucked up for life. What do I do? Dope up more and pretend I don't know? Fear that my husband will molest someone else? Shit shit shit.
    Sorry for dumping in my first visit, I just had to relieve the pressure a bit. Don't know how I'll survive this.


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    Replies
    1. I know this isn't a great thing to hear, but your kids will be able to tell that something is up anyway. I assume that you've made it very clear to your husband that continuing with this behaviour will constitute sexual abuse of you on his part (I don't know what the law is where you are, but here in the UK what you describe would be classed as sexual assault, or rape if penetration is involved). Staying with a man who does that to you will continue to affect your mental state, and your kids will know that something is wrong, and probably know that you are stressed and thus feel less able to talk to you about their problems, etc. I don't know your full situation, so I'm not telling you to leave per se, but you know that instruction on planes to put your own oxygen mask on before seeing to your children's? It works the same with emotions. Sometimes you have to rescue yourself first. You being strong and safe will provide an anchor for your children, regardless of their living situation. Best of luck.

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    2. I don't have much more to offer, but I second what Jan said about taking care of yourself first so you can take care of your children. Please, TALK TO SOMEONE. Find a trusted friend or extended family member or even a rabbi or pastor - or better yet, go straight to a professional counselor. There are people out there waiting to listen and help you through this; you've just got to make that first step in asking for help. Also, I hope you've confronted your husband and made it clear that what he's done is NOT ok. It's possible he doesn't fully understand how much the drugs incapacitate you, so TELL HIM. And then make him sleep on the couch 'til you feel safe again. If he refuses, again, go to the professionals. You deserve time to heal, so please, don't keep going like this. Find help. And know that we're all rooting for you. [[hugs]]

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  89. I started cutting in college and for me it always came from feeling like I didn't have any control. I was in some very unhealthy relationships back then so cutting was my way to deal with everything I was feeling. For a while I didn't swim because of the patch of scars on my thigh. Later I moved to my wrist and every photo of me in a two year span has me wearing a leather cuff bracelet. Later, going through a divorce at the age of 21 I started cutting my forearms as well because there was so much scar tissue on my wrist. And the thing that I hate the most is when people say that self-harm is attention seeking because I believed with all my heart that nobody noticed the bandaids or blood. It turns out that wasn't true, people did notice, they were just afraid of mentioning it and saying the wrong thing.

    After some therapy and a year of living abroad I stopped for the most part. I would have cycles where I bought a new pack of razors and use for a while, then a friend or boyfriend would convince me to throw them away and I'd start over.

    I recently started cutting again, I've been facing a lot of challenges at my job, being taken advantage of, threatened, and insulted. The first time that I cut to deal with what I was feeling I felt a huge sense of relief. It is an addiction for me and now that I remember how much it helps I've "slipped up" several more times, scratches on my hands and arms, a beautiful bruise on my knee.

    I currently see a therapist and she has been so kind to me about all of this. We talk about things I can try instead of cutting but most importantly she understands that I do this because it helps me. My big problem is that my boyfriend doesn't understand. We've been together over 2 years and we love each other but he's just so disappointed and sad every time he finds out that I cut again. I hate it because he makes me feel so guilty. I haven't been able to explain to him why I need to self-harm, he firmly believes that when I hurt myself it hurts him too to I should be able to stop because I don't want to hurt him. The guilt that I feel is so strong that it binds me. I've had a few times that I've successfully hidden cuts from him and a few times that he found them without me telling him. He says that the only thing that can break us apart is if we're not honest with each other so I should be able to tell him when I hurt myself. He doesn't understand that the guilt he makes me feel when I tell him I've cut is so strong that I'd rather lie to him. Every conversation we have about it ends with me crying and asking for forgiveness, I shut down inside and stop listening to what he's trying to say. I wish he would understand that I'm not doing this to hurt him, I'm doing it to help me.

    sorry for the disjointedness and thank you so much for the chance to get some of this off my chest.

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  90. I have a dear friend who has struggled with eating disorders and self harm all through high-school. She's a waif of a thing now, but she seems to eat well, so I hope that she has just grown into her baby fat and there isn't anything going on that I can't see, because she lives so far away now.

    She had a huge scar on her arm in high school from cutting over and over in the same place. I remember asking her about it and she told me that she fell through a window. And I believed her. I still feel stupid for that, but I was 14 and self harm wasn't even something I had ever heard of at the time. She confessed her struggles to all of us when we were 16 and 17, and went to a rehab facility and got better.

    Now, the scar has faded a bit and she's engaged to a great guy who shares her love of theatre. She's an actress and a stage manager at a theater in Austin. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding. We don't keep up much anymore, apart from Facebook, but I'm so thankful that she forced her way through the crucible of high school, and that I was able to be there for her in whatever small way I could.

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  91. I grew up bipolar, but was only diagnosed a couple of years ago. I take supplements rather than prescription medication, but they make a world of difference. I still have good days and bad days, and even awful days, but it helps to know that it's my brain chemistry (not my authentic self) that makes me feel this way. It's like diabetes or epilepsy--not something I should have to be ashamed of, since I'm working hard to keep myself well. It's an illness with mental symptoms.

    And I second this (thanks, CPie, for stating it so clearly): "Thank you for talking about this topic, Jen. The stigma of this and any mental illness creates a chasm between those who need support and resources that can help them. The more people are willing to brave being honest, the closer we inch to an accepting and supportive society. I truly admire that you choose to be so brave, honest, and demanding of your expectations for social change."

    For those of us who are still struggling, I like this blog as well: http://stronginsideout.com/

    (((Hugs))) --to anyone who wants one.

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  92. This article, coming many years into my life was the moment when I realized that yes, I do self harm. My brain had decided that because there wasn't blood and scars, there was never razors or knifes or fire that clearly it wasn't self harm. I mean, self harm is that, and only that. I didn't get a high from digging my finger nails into my hand, it was just that the bright sharp physical pain was a good distraction from the frustration/anger that I was feeling. The biting into my hand to not scream or yell or throw things, that was silly and I'd feel shame every time my hand hurt when it moved for three days afterwards, but that was far better than losing my emotional shit all over the place. Right? *sigh* Depression lies. Depression tells me that I can't cope with yet another thing wrong with me. Depression says my doctor will finally throw up her hands and say I'm too broken to bother with anymore and why can't you just be /easy/. Depression says why bother. Depression lies.

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  93. I remember being called 'sausage girl' in kindergarten, simply because I was pudgy. 'Four-eyes", 'Bucky the buck-toothed wonder' and 'dog-girl' were also common. As the years passed the names became more puerile, derivative and obscene. At age 9 I began cutting, not anything big, simply tracing thin lines of pain across the tender skin of my inner arms. It calmed the emotional distress by letting me focus on physical pain. At 11 I was diagnosed depressed and put on medication. At 13 I attempted suicide.

    I have survived 32 years of life. Not always easily, not always happily, but I have and continue to do so. There is always hope.

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  94. I've been sitting here looking at this blank box for about 20 minuets now. I can't even respond to this. I've erased my words several times over. I just don't know how to express how badly I feel for everyone and how much I want to wish you all well. I've never had any trauma and never did any self harm. The worst thing was some bullying in high school.

    I have anger issues. Many of the recommended ways to deal wit anger require that you recognize that you are getting angry and turn your energy else where. I don't have time to do that. My anger comes in an instant and is gone just as quick. A short violent outburst -- 3 or 4 choice words -- and it's done. But I always fee so guilty after. I've been trying to keep in under control but I just don't know how. And I know that my issue is not like the others, who have genuine reason to hurt, but I don't understand it and I want help but have no idea to go about finding it.

    i just wanted to say that you are not alone but I don't now of any support for people like me.

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  95. I definitely wasn't expecting this article when I signed on to my Google Reader this morning. How appropriate for me though.

    I struggled with self harm between the ages of 15 and 19. I dealt with feelings of inadequacy. I became a sucker for all of the criticism that came from my family and friends (yes, friends!) It started out with bruising the side of my knee. Later, I started scratching myself with the back of a pin that said, of all things, "believe, perform, excel". When I got into college things got really bad. With zero coping methods, I spun even more out of control and actually started drawing blood. Add on top of that an eating disorder.

    When I got into college, I only told two people. One was a boy named Ian who also struggled with self-harm. We never could figure out how to fix the big problems, so instead we would hide the sharp objects from each other when we knew the other was feeling blue. He was an is one of my best friends, and we have a kind of sixth sense regarding each others emotions.
    The other person I told was my friend B. She was surprised when I told her. She said I was the last person she would imagine doing something like that. She was over 1000 miles away from me, but she did more than almost anyone else. She encouraged me to go to counseling. She provided me with the phone numbers and information of my school's counseling center. Anytime we would talk she would remind me to give them a call.
    By the end of the year, while I still struggled with self harm, I'd managed to over come the eating disorder.

    It was another year before I had the courage to do it though. Call the counseling center, I mean. I don't know...cutting has a stigma attached to it. Unless you self harm, it's hard to understand why someone would do it. But somehow it was less scary than going to counseling.

    The summer before my sophomore year of college, I went to see my doctor for a physical. In passing, I mentioned I had some anxiety about returning to college, and I explained that I was afraid of falling back in with my eat disorder; I'd not had much of an appetite for the past week. She asked if I thought it might be a symptom of anxiety and depression, and I busted out crying. Then she asked me about self harm, and she asked me why I hadn't tried that. But, then I told her I already had that I'd struggled with it for a few years. She then had me taken up to the ER for evaluation to determine whether I was a threat to myself.

    For the first time in 4 years, my parents found out. My mother could hardly look at me, and I felt so ashamed. My father couldn't stop hugging me though. For the next 10 hours, I tried to explain to them why I cut. It was painful. But good to just get it out.

    I haven't cut since then. It's been about 5 years. I wish I could say it were easy, but it's not. Self harm...is an addiction. Even though it's been 5 years, I still think about doing it. A lot of really horrible things have surfaced in the past 5 years that make the issue I dealt with when I was younger look like child's play. And so I think about cutting a lot. Then I feel like ashamed about those thoughts until I realize that despite all of that I didn't follow through with it. I resisted. I addressed the issue vocally instead. I faced the problem head on. And that means so much more.



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  96. As I write this, there are already 123 comments. So I should get lost in the masses. I didn't have abusive parents growing up, or even a rough childhood. My older sister was supposed to take care of me while my parents both worked. Unfortunately, I babysat her just to make sure my parents never found out about her alcohol problem; she used to hurt me when she was really smashed. I never really thought about it. I've always been the one who takes care of everyone. I'm thinking about it now, though. I think I screwed that one up and should have allowed my parents to know about her problem.

    I've been struggling with depression and anxiety my whole life. I worry about everything and everyone and sometimes have a hard time figuring out what is trivial and what is detrimental. I've been using safety pins to scratch my thighs for 5 years now. "Safety" pins, right?! I scratch the insides of my thighs when I feel worse than worthless. I also have 3 children. I've been able to hide this from my husband up until 4 months ago when my 3-year old daughter walked in on me scratching my leg on a particularly bad night. She went out and told her daddy that I was bleeding. He came in the bathroom and caught me. He was mad at me...really mad. I think it scared him just how messed up I really am! I've made a couple of doctor's appointments, but always chicken out. How embarassing is it to be a successful 34-year old who self harms herself like a teenager?!! Seriously. I have no reason to do this, but I still do it.

    Strangely enough, I feel a little better. Needless to say, having a hectic full-time job and 3 kids leaves little time for friends in my life. I really don't have anyone to talk to and my husband just wants to "fix" everything when I talk to him. Being able to lay it out here is nice. Sorry for being one of the masses, but really Thank You Jen for allowing all of us a place to feel somewhat normal. We can all be messed up together! I'm not perfect by a long shot, but there are so many others just like me.

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    1. Just so you know, almost a year later, someone was touched by your comment and feels for you. Love from a stranger! (and never delegitimize your feelings, it doesn't have to be the hardest thing you've ever heard of to have been a hard thing)

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  97. I'm not into self harm, but I am super depressed right now, and today, and I really needed to hear, "you are loved, you are valued" and "we are better than that. And those people? The ones whose voices and condemnation we carry with us? They were wrong." thank you. I've been a long time reader and I think this is the first time I've commented. thanks so much.
    ~Emilynn

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  98. Reading these comments and this post has touched me. I don't think I realized it, but I'm depressed and I eat when I'm sad. I've gained over 100 pounds since high school 9 years ago. I had lost almost 50, but got sad again and it's all come back. I had a miscarriage 3 months ago and my mom just moved across the country. I realize I've been eating horribly recently from the crushing depression of these two things. That's my way to self-harm b/c things taste good, and dull the pain. Wow, I feel like crying. What a realization.

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    1. I have used food in the same way. Mostly sugar to the point of addiction. I'm 20 days sugar free right now and I've been away from chips and popcorn for almost two weeks. I feel your pain, I hope you can pull out of it. I have been blogging my struggle with sugar for a couple of years, I don't know if it will help, but it might at least make you laugh. http://sweethealthcoaching.blogspot.com/

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  99. Dear Anonymous, First of all what your husband is doing is abuse and illegal.Sexual intercourse without consent is rape, period. You do not deserve this treatment and you HAVE to confront him.Get that man out of the house immediately!! I know the fear of confrontation, the uncertainty of what might happen as a result. But it's not going to get better, it's not going to go away until you take action. Call a local hotline, they can refer you to people who can help you find the resources for support and get you counseling if you don't already have access to someone. If you do have access to a therapist, call them immediately, tell your doctor, tell your family, don't do this alone. Your son maybe reacting to the environment in the household, kids know much more then we think they do. You MUST protect yourself and your children. Talk to your prescribing physician, there might be other medications that will work better then what you are currently on. I know the result of staying in a bad situation out of fear all too well and I can only say that as bad as leaving might be, staying is much, much worse.

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  100. I'm young but don't feel like it. I've just always been one of those kids who feels more like a thirty year old woman than a seventeen year old girl. Trouble is, I'm surrounded by stupid, ignorant children full of judgement and mean-heartedness.

    I cut, burned and stuck thumb tacks through my fingers for three years before my parents put me in an inpatient program at a crazy kid house five hours from my home. And this crazy thing happened.

    I made friends. With kids my own age. In that hell of a prison, with key passes on every single door and no shoelaces; where they inventoried all the forks after every meal, and strip searched us all after one of the screws in a window went missing... Where we had designated "Recreation" time in a barb-wire enclosed lot with some shit basketball hoops, "Expression" time where we colored with crayons like children, and meal times that lasted precisely 33 minutes and took place around one large round table so no one could possibly be excluded... It was a normal event for a fifteen year old in a twenty-five year old man's body to have rage fits and need to be restrained and mysteriously removed by the nurses.

    But even though some of us were on the brink of collapse from anorexia, on the brink of extreme violence, or most commonly, on the brink of death by any means possible... we became a twisted little family. These were people who really, honestly understood the hurt inside me. Because they had it too. And it was them, not the pills or the BS therapy or the airtight daily schedule that got us out of there.

    We're all still friends, and have get-togethers every now and then. The shame and self-consciousness I feel when I'm out by myself and the cuts on my face and arms and shoulders just glare at everyone and attract judgmental eyes like magnets... When I'm with this crazy group of misfits, that's okay. Because they have battle scars too, and they're beautiful just like mine. And people can stare all they want, but we're a force to be reckoned with because we've been to hell and back and know the way to the exit.

    I haven't self-harmed in three months and eleven days. I'm dating a boy I met in that house. I think I love him. But better, I think I finally love me.

    The point of my story is that kindred souls are such a gift, and when you feel so painfully alone, you aren't. Find a friend, find a mentor, get a pet, get into group therapy, find a website- there are so may ways to keep yourself from isolation.

    And most of all, I promise it will get better. Love to all of you.

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  101. I would like to reply to every single one of you who are brave enough to type your messages to this thread:
    I know you may not believe me when I say to you -

    You are worthy of a life well lived.


    You are a creation unlike any other creation that was ever made or will ever be made. Out of all the organisms that got onto this Earth and the entire Solar System, Cosmos, etc etc you are the only YOU that will ever grace this place and time. Think about that for just a second...re-read that, if you will.
    Like the Doctor says, "Did you know that in 900 years of time and space I've never met someone who wasn't important before?" As someone who struggles with body image issues I cannot speak to self-harming. I am not anorexic or bulemic, but I know what its like to look in the mirror and hate what you see. I understand what its like to feel that things are so out of control the only thing you *do* have control over is what you eat, or not eat, or how you can make hurting cease.
    I, for one, love you. I don't know who the heck you are, your name or what you do for a living. I, as someone of the 'Pretty-But-Nots' Club salute all of you who identify as such. For today, allow yourself the thought that who you are, exactly who you are, is someone who is worthy of being okay.
    For today, even if it's just for today, revel in the fact that you are uniquely you. Paint green on your toenails.
    Do something FUN- yes, fun. Yes, fun!!! Give one big embiggened "Eff Off" to the things that tell you "No you can't/you aren't/you don't".
    I'm not offering it as a cure/cover up, but instead I want to invite you to begin to love who you are - flaws and all.
    The Divine in me recognizes and acknowledges the Divine in you.
    Namaste.

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  102. I was in high school, and I hit the depression wall hard. One night, when everyone was asleep and I couldn't take it anymore, I took a piece of glass and cut myself several times. When going to sleep afterwards, I kept wishing I wouldn't wake up at all. That's when I knew I was also suicidal. For several months I couldn't shake the feeling. Every day I would need to cut. It felt like a release, but I didn't feel better.

    I was getting failing grades through all of this, which made me feel even worse. I started just walking through life as a zombie- not caring about anything or anyone. I just wanted my life to end. I prayed that it would. I started cutting more, and tried to cover up my cuts. I always wore a sweater, even if it was 90 degrees outside. My parents and twin sister were helpless. They thought about getting me counseling, but we didn't have the money, so they tried their best to get me to open up to them.

    One day, before my lunch period, my twin sister ran up to me and said "You need help." and took me to the school counselor, where we talked it all out with my parents. For some reason, that resonated with me.

    Though the scars are now faded, there are some that I still see. They will always be a reminder that I am human and that I may have those feelings again, but instead of cutting, I can turn to my family.

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  103. *Must resist the urge to hijack Jen's comment section and reply to each and every comment posted here.*

    There are many places to reach out for help and to be in a place with others who understand.

    Find one that speaks to you. Even if you just lurk and quietly gain support. Know that there are others who speak the same language. This is the beauty of the internet, it's a place we all can come and be heard.

    Peace be the journey

    Paja

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  104. I used to be a cutter Before i met my now boyfriend 5 years ago. I was looking around for help and found the butterfly challenge. Its where you draw something pretty or write the name of someone important on your wrist so when you feel the need to cut you see the item there and it makes you think about what you are doing. After 4 years of not cutting due to this challenge I decided to make the butterflies permanent. I got the tattoos a year ago and anytime someone asks about them I tell them my story.

    https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/404986_430070643671926_995643752_n.jpg

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  105. My life seems to be a series of catastrophes. Most of the time I can laugh it off, but sometimes I slip into that hole and I think, "I can't take care of myself. I don't bring anything to this world--I just drain the people who love me." But a couple of years ago, I adopted a special needs dog, and seeing the joy she has for life is really inspiring, and she is a daily reminder that I am needed--and that I have something to offer. And the fact you and the Bloggess are so open has really helped me see that it's okay to not always be okay. (I remember this when I am okay. It's still a struggle at times. But I'm getting there.)

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  106. http://kateordie.tumblr.com/post/5616066469/this-is-a-comic-about-self-injury A comic about self injury that's been around awhile, but hit my tumblr dash today and made me think of your post.

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  107. thank you... this has shown me. Im younger than any of the children she said. im 10. i cut myself because one of my, well i thought was, one of my best friends brought me down HARD. i couldn't take all the harm she has told me and i HATE being corrected. i scared my friends. i scare my family. i scared everyone around me. i may be just another comment, but i stand up for this. i cut myself on my hand and after that i told myself, i deserve this, i hope im better than i was!, but then. i felt more depressed than ever. i called my best friend and told her what i did. she was almost speechless... thank you...

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  108. I pretend that I'm okay, that I'm not depreessed, but I think I am sometimes. I do what you did, Jen, and tear my arms up with my nails. I keep my nails boyishly short in order not to tear at my arms. I dig my nails into my arms when someone makes me cry or I think I've said something stupid. I have good friends and a decent life, but sometimes I do consider suicide. I've cut twice, but it never really meant anything... I liked using my nails more.
    Thank you, Jen, for posting this. It reminded me that I matter to someone.
    Thanks.

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  109. I am a 39 year old who spent most of my childhood and teen years with "small" cuts and gouges on my hands and upper arms.. the emotions and pain were just too much to deal with any other way. Having children and seeing it manifest in them too was very hard. I recognized it very early and redirected them- I took it seriously unlike my parents. My son keeps a exercise trampoline in his room to "bounce it out" and my beautiful gorgeous 15 year old daughter paints on her arms and legs instead of scratching or cutting... non-toxic- washes right off in the shower but it helps calm her while giving her the instant gratification of "seeing" the result.. Having someone take you seriously makes a WORLD of difference...

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  110. I am praying, and will continue praying, for you all! Please know that you are fearfully & wonderfully made to be unique in the world, by the Creator of the universe, who loves you beyond measure. He is with you, even in the midst of your pain.

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  111. "When I was a teen I used to dig my fingernails into the back of my hand any time I felt like crying."

    Oh my god. I did this as a teen, for exactly the same reason. At 37, when things get very, very bad, I STILL DO THIS. I had no idea I wasn't alone. I'm crying in shock and relief at seeing that I'm not the only one. Thank you for sharing this. Thank you.

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  112. I am crying as type this, you are all so brave for sharing and surviving! You all deserve love, no matter who you are or what you have been through, I send you love, hugs and support. You are strong!!

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  113. I was in quite terrible shape when I was 16 years old. I had terrible depression and anxiety which led me to self harm, emotional and physical, I attempted suicide. I tried to overdose on pills and had resigned my self to die. Honestly, I became so scared I sought help and was rushed into the emergency room. The weirdness of it was that when they pumped my stomach, they couldn't find nearly the number of pills I had taken, and the doctors had told me I would most likely experience heart, liver, or kidney failure.

    I can't even believe that was me. I am 27 now, bright and beautiful and happy and full of life. It was a miracle, I experienced no ill side effects and all my organs are fine. I went through lots of therapy to get where I am, and I still have anxiety which I have learned to deal with and control. I still have depression but am on a good medication and have mellowed out considerably as I have aged. I am so proud to say that I am living on my own and supporting myself and have just got hired at my dream job!

    When I think of all the people who self harm- physically or emotionally- all I have to say is stop. Stop just for a moment and think. You are not alone, you are not a lost cause, your life does not need to end. If you need help- GET help. The hardest part is to ASK for help but please do it if you think you need it. Always remember to keep walking- always keep going. Every single day- move forward and don't stop. You will go through the bad days and they will pass- they have to- time constantly moves and life will always balance out so things may be bad now but they will be better later.

    The first part has been hard for me to write, my attempted suicide has always been a dark, dirty secret that I have held for many years, but I am tired of de-valuing myself because of a mistake, and that mistake no longer defines me. To all of you who are going through similar times, or very difficult times, I wish you all the best and will send good thoughts and happiness your way.

    In the words of Dori. "Just keep swimming!"

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  114. i'm currently in college, and dealing with my most intense depressive episode in six years (i have been diagnosed for ten). i fell back into self-harm when this episode started, but have tried to give it up for lent. this post honestly could not have come at a better time for me, and i thank you wholeheartedly.

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  115. I have long been a follower of Jenny's blog because a dear friend shared some of the bat crap crazy funny that she comes up with in the wonderfuly zany places in her mind. But as I read more I learned more. Like her I have a serious anxiety disorder. It prevents me from holding down a job, I can still drive, but I won't tackle city driving, except on 'safe routes' to a few places. Routes I know well, with a minimum of lane changes, and generally a lot of detours through quiet neighborhoods because the more direct route is too busy. Perhaps, I am fortunate. I've never had the urge to hurt myself, though I have had the urge to kill myself, and only the voice whispering in the back of my head that it would make my mama sad stopped me, because that was the one thing more frightening to me then the pain itself. I'm 'better' now. Or rather I am diagnosed and undergoing treatment that helps. Still, I am crying as I write this. I want to say "thank you" to you and to Jenny and all the other people out there in the internet that share of their own pain, their own dark places, and let us all know we are not the only one, we are not the only person who feels this way, and there are places we can go, things we can see and cling to in the dark night. And as Jenny says so often and so well, Depression Lies.
    God bless

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  116. I was seven when I first cut. The thing is, by that time I knew exactly what I was doing was wrong but so was everything. So a seven year old made herself bleed, then mustered up some crocodile tears and a shoddy story about what happened, because she didn't want questions she couldn't answer. I know where it all started for me. I'm an explosion of imbalanced chemicals shaken, not stirred with an abusive mother. Not that I can blame her, not at all. My mother had an abusive mother, only her mother was acid tongue and scathing belittlement, while mine was over dependency and emotional imbalance. My mother turned to Jesus and her little daughter, who she thought could break the curse of pain. So I spent my days being crammed with religion and being told not to trust anyone but my mother, and to a much lesser extent my father and brother. And so I grew up stunted for all my physical height. I could never relate to my classmates, and I felt so inadequate of being my mother's only friend at home. So something inside me broke.
    I am 21 now, I have been self-harm free for 12 months, a personal best. I stopped seeing therapists, because every single one made me feel like an idiot making things up for attention. I went off of my psych meds. And I'm the most stable I have been in my life. I have an amazing boyfriend, and while he doesn't understand, he loves me enough to help me work through this. He understands I'm trying, that I'm fighting the biggest battle of my life, and that in all honesty, its going to be a lifelong adventure. I moved away from my parents so I could get a handle on me. I do the things I need to survive and fight another day.

    A while back I wrote a piece explaining to the best of my ability what depression anxiety mean to me. It's called "Sometimes".

    Sometimes, when I walk into a room, I feel like immediately running straight the back out of it. Sometimes, when I have to look people in the eye, my brain runs out of there and I function on automatic until I can handle it. Sometimes, when I call people, I immediately hang up after I dial, so I don’t actually have to interact. Sometimes, I rehearse every minutiae of the upcoming day, so I know I am prepared for any situation. Sometimes, getting out of bed is too much and I just cry.

    But sometimes, I can fight through that. Sometimes, I can have real conversations with people looking them in the eye. Sometimes, I can say, do, BE whoever or whatever pops into my head the moment it does. Sometimes getting out of bed is a treat.
    Sometimes I lumber along. Sometimes I get by because I have to. Sometimes its only the fear of failing that gets me moving.

    Sometimes, life is ok. Sometimes, I feel fair. Sometimes things could be better, but I can see that they have been so exponentially worse and I’m ok.
    Sometimes, everything is ok.

    Sometimes, everything hurts.

    Sometimes, the pain is what gets me through.

    I live my life in relation to my depression and my anxiety, real maladies that have done their damnedest to ruin me.

    I have cut, I have taken more pills than any sane person should. I have burned. I have deprived myself of all nourishment. I have gorged myself beyond gluttony. I have scoured my body, trying to wash away who I am. I have bruised myself. I pulled hair. I have put myself in emotionally abusive relationships because I wasn't worth the time of a decent person, and that mistreatment felt so right.

    I have treated my wounds. I have treated myself to something to just make me happy. I have entrusted my secrets to good friends. I have made an impact on decent people. I have filled my life with beauty. I have worked hard and been satisfied with the way I behaved.

    I have gotten myself help. I have seen therapists. I have thrown away my knives, my lighters, cut myself off from dealers, broken up with hurtful people.

    In essence, I have lived and I still live. I am not ok. I never will be. Sometimes that’s ok, sometimes, it’s not. As long as there are still sometimes though, life is still worth living.

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  117. You are so amazing and talented that it is hard for me to understand. You have the ability to create things of beauty, the ability to make me laugh, and the depth of emotion to make me cry. You are amazing.

    I wasn't the most picked upon kid at school, but I was an easy target. I hung out solo with my animals and to this day cherish their unconditional love. And then I lost weight and grew boobs, I now had men's attention but didn't believe I could be loved and let myself be used instead.

    Now, I still have my demons but I have a job in which I am challenged and many coping methods (some unhealthy) to make it from day to day. I developed a love for cooking, which ruined my figure, but the joy I have feeding people more than makes up for it. I think feeding people is a safe way for me to show love. I have a husband who has become my best friend. Though it wasn't easy and I fought against it time and time again.

    When I stopped fighting it and just gave trust a chance, I became a much stronger person that didn't have to worry about making it alone. I was now strong enough to make it alone, if it ever happened.

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  118. Sometimes those zany crazy funny places in our head comes from a place that laughs so we can't cry. There is so much pressure on so many of us. We put that pressure on our children too. It's more than we can handle at times. There is a serious lack of support for kids in schools who feel this pressure. I can say that from first-hand experience. We try to educate their mind while we ignore their emotional intelligence. Something has to give.

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  119. I have never self-harmed and my heart breaks for those who do. I have read some of the comments here and in my heart I am here for each and every one of you. Know that there are people out here who don't understand but don't judge and would love to give you hugs and take your pain away.

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  120. I watched this video today and burst into tears at 1:40. I cried another 3 times today, all while at work (thankfully I was by myself all day).

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  121. Another wonderful open discussion on these issues. Thanks Jen, we all need this so badly. Some time back in the 1970's I was watching the Maude show and a character was diagnosed with Manic/Depressive disorder. I thought that is exactly what I feel. (Manic/Depressive disorder is now called bipolar. In my case, I always thought M/D was a more acurrate description. High and low swings of epic propotions) I'm 52 years old, next week I reach my 5 year anniversary at work. This is the longest I have ever held down a job in my life. Do I feel great about it? Nope, in the last year I have come to realization that a lot of the things I thought about myself were all wrong. My self harming is binge eating and sabotaging myself at work. My medications are helping. I keep plugging along. My husband is my advocate. He makes sure I get the medical help I need when I can't see it for myself. I try to avoid those things I know are triggers for stuffing 3 stale donuts down my throat because I feel like I can't help it. I actually made a female friend for the first time in 30 years and we're going to a conference this weekend to study about a mutual interest. So, after all this time, I realize that the only thing I can do is slow down, take my time, and enjoy myself. Thanks again Jen! Love you!

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  122. ive struggled with self harm since i was eleven. My earliest memory of doing it, anyway, was when i was eleven...
    Its a struggle daily, but ive been clean for a few months (before that it had been close to two years) I think what that kid is doing is a wonderful thing. It was hard throwing out my blades. Having that support will be helpful to many.
    Thanks Jen, for posting that. Get the word out!

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  123. I started cutting when I was eleven. It was always the best anti-anxiety thing ever. It was always my friend, and I could always count on it. For the longest time, I didn't even want to stop.

    I did all the promising stuff. I promised my therapist, I promised myself, and every time I screwed up. Every time. It was humiliating, but it was being back with my friend, and it worked, and I'm good at humiliation, so that was ok.

    I'm not sure when it changed. One day I just stopped promising. I gave myself permission, to fail, to be a mess, to not be ok some days. And then I started to stop. It's been a year, but I'm not counting the days anymore. I may screw up, but it doesn't mean the end of everything I've worked for, it just means a bad day, and that's ok.

    Be well, be compassionate.

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  124. I'm a cutter trying to stay on the wagon, and I'm having one of those nights. I don't know which way it will turn out, but it sucks not having a support system.

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  125. I'm sharing this with my class tomorrow (I teach 9 and 10 year olds)... because while we're lucky, and there isn't any MAJOR bullying going on.. there's name calling, and there are things that go on that by themselves might not be punishable, or taken seriously.... this video has reminded me that EVERYTHING that can harm a child should be taken seriously. It's reminded me of why I became a teacher... because I was that child. I was the kind who had yellow dye water poured on her chair and called piss pants, I was the child who was held against a wall with a craft knife against her throat for not giving a christmas card to a boy that had teased her non stop for 3 years. I was a the girl who thought she had friends... who then ditched her a week before the end of the year and said 'we never liked you anyway'. I was the child who had her best friend dump her for the new, and more exciting girl from Egypt... I was the girl who was called Steamroller (ironic really, as I was a stick figure back then... and yet am not now.) I was the girl who had her reading glasses stolen and dropped out of the second floor windows more than once each semester.. I was the girl who was locked into the bathrooms.... and had kids blackmailing her for money and lunch.
    Enough is enough.
    I refuse to let the children I teach, the children I am supposed to be helping become model citizens... I refuse to let them become that child. Or the child that does those things to another human being.

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