I have dealt with self harm for most of my life on a subconscious level. I did not understand this until months into my counselling. So what is self harm and why didn't I realize until so recently. To dive into this; first I think we need to take a moment and talk about the world we live in. It is a world of high standards and our path is all but laid out for us before we are out of high school. Yes most of us can choose what we want to do with our lives but we understand at an early age that there is a path we should take. We go to school, get good grades, then go get a post secondary education then get a job. We know this because it is what is expected of us. The second part of the world we live in is a world with social media, social media can be a powerful tool but has one huge down fall in my mind. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others. Now what does a life plan and social media relate to self harm?
Let me explain; when I was first experiencing what I now know to be anxiety I always thought it is not that bad because I am still on this life path that everyone takes so I must not be struggling that bad. I also thought that if I felt this way and no one is talking about it, I must be the weak one. I started to compare the life I had to the ones I saw online. That become a lonely place trying to fight the battles in my head. Looking back the scary part was that I truly felt I needed to hide all my emotions to stay on that life path. It didn't stop there, I felt that because I needed to put on this face that everything was going well and that I was actually thriving. I learned early that once you are doing well at something a great thing happened; no one ever asked about me only the thing I had done.
Now this is where self harm started to show its face. Let me break it down some more. I was feeling like my path was predetermined. I was trying to live the life I saw online all while battling mental health and thinking I am worthless, I am just along for the ride, an inconvenience to everyone around me unless I performed. I started to push every emotion down and worked to find affirmation. I played sports at a high level and was viewed as one of the guys for the first time in my eyes. This came with one huge side effect, If I got hurt I didn't view myself as part of the team. Now if I got hurt and still played the guys loved me even more. This become an addictive feeling. The reason for that is because when you push all our emotions down you become numb and and feeling anything comes with great pleasure. It was double the feeling, I felt accepted by the team but the true experience for me was the pain. I started to love it. In a moment when you are in pain nothing else is important. It feels like life is on pause and the battles in our mind are at bay. I always hide behind the fact that I will going through pain to become stronger and never let my mind put the pieces together and realize I needed help. Over my teen years this got worse and worse and I started looking forward to sport so that I could feel pain.
There was another spot on my life where I could self harm and that was eating. It sounds crazy but it is something we never think about. What happens when we eat too much food? We feel like shit. I clued in that I can control this and no one around me ever put it together. I could a ton on a sunday lunch and than just lay around all afternoon feeling like shit and my mind would be off.
This became a cycle in my life until I could no longer get my fix without it affecting day to day life and that is when I started cutting my arms. This was the first time my mental health was shown on the outside. I could no longer hide it. This is what most people view self harm as and it couldn't be more wrong. It is one of the last staging and needs to be addressed before someone feels they have no more options and needs to take there on life. I can stay this because I know suicide was my next step.
My hopes is that in this unfilter view of self harm if you are struggling and think I'm alright this is normal, it is but it isn't okay. Reach out for help no matter what stage you are in. If you are ready to reach out but think that no one will take you seriously because you don't cut yourself it is a lie. If you think you are too far gone no one will care it's not true its a lie. I promise you people care. If the people around you don't seem to care than find new people, reach out I am here for you.
Self harm looks different to different people at different times. This is a picture of me about 3 years before I started cutting my wrists. I don't remember why I felt I needed to show my dorm floor I could kick the ceiling but I needed to. I should mention that I was going through some pretty heavy things and the day before this I dislocated 3 of my ribs so I was already in a lot of pain. I was looking for something to get me out of the mental state and this gave me attention from my friends and made me feel included. I am sharing this so if someone comes to mind and you think you should talk to that person about their mental health please be careful. You never know where someone is mentally and say or doing something that could affect them negatively is a very real possibility. Instead I ask you to love that person. Always be there for them and just show them love consistently.