Personal Stories

Self-Harm Struggle

I can see the expression on people’s faces when they see scars on my arms—the clearly self-inflicted scars. There is a moment of shock, then immediately they look away so they don’t look like they’re staring. This used to bother me. But I have come to accept these scars; they don’t define me. They are battle scars, a small piece of my story; the lasting result of a disease that nobody can see.

I’ve battled with anxiety and OCD for as long as I can remember. I specifically remember being in grade school and lying in bed almost every night with “the shakes” just wanting somebody to take me out of my misery. My mom would come and fan me which was the only thing that helped. Most of the time my anxiety resulted in nausea and to this day it’s one of my biggest fears. At the time we just thought I was sick all time.

This continued and then gradually petered out through grade school and middle school. In 8th grade my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer and my sister and I had to move in with my grandparents. My dad had to work so he couldn’t be home with us. My grandparents are wonderful and amazing and the most loving people, but they weren’t my mom.

I can’t remember what made me decide to cut myself. I remember reading a story in my teen bible about a girl who cut herself and she didn’t really know what had happened. I tried it and it provided a couple minutes of help. It became my secret. This continued until my best friend found out. She encouraged me to stop and I did for some time.

The stress of high school took its toll on me. I had to have good grades and stay thin and attractive. I punished myself when I didn’t feel pretty. At this point it escalated from scratches to cuts. I could no longer use the cat scratch excuse. That’s when my parents found out.

They were not happy and I was threatened and yelled at and this only made it worse. Eventually they learned to handle it with some understanding and support. My boyfriend (now my fiancé) found out and wasn’t happy either but he learned to handle it with support instead of anger as well.

Over the next few years I quit and relapsed, feeling like a disappointment.

Finally, I reached the point where my anxiety attacks were every day, even multiple times a day. It was time to seek some help because I could no longer function. This was scary to me! I felt like a ‘crazy’ person going to see a psychiatrist.

He helped me to realize that this was something that wasn’t my fault. I learned to accept this over time and finally, after a lot of trial and error, we figured out medications that worked for me. I can’t even describe the freeing and wonderful feeling of being able to do what I want. I can work, leave the house, go in stores and go kayaking.

I know this may not last and that I might relapse, but I will fight my hardest to fight those relapses off because the road I am on now is so much better than the one I left behind.


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