Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Guest post: My struggles with self harm


I am very lucky to have another guest blogger on Pull Yourself Together today - the lovely Liza from Liza Tait-Bailey, who is a lifestyle blogger that documents places she's been, things she thinks about, and some good old advice thrown in there too. She also has some beautiful photography and, like me, has a passion for writing about mental health.

This post is deeply personal for her, and is about her own dark psychological struggles. I would just like to throw a trigger warning out there - please do not read ahead if a post about self-harm may be a potential trigger for you.


Each time I see the scars on my arms I am filled with a loathing for the coping technique I have chosen.


I’m so worried that something that I write in this post will be deemed ‘wrong’, that I have no good reason for doing what I do, that my pain doesn’t warrant this. But how can strangers invalidate my feelings? You don’t know what it feels like, or maybe you do?


I know I don’t want to self harm. I know it’s not a solution and getting healthy is a journey that I’m currently undertaking, with the help of some dear friends and counsellors. I know that my first instinct when I’m hurt or angry or upset is to turn it on myself, to punish myself for whatever I have done wrong, even when someone else has upset me. It is my fault that I’m upset, so I need to punish myself for it. Sometimes I don’t even know that I am hurting myself: I scratch out of anxiety to the point of bleeding but I don’t even realise until I see the scabs the next morning.


I know that this is wrong, and I’m not fair to myself.


I had hurt myself a few times as a teenager, but pretty soon decided it wasn’t a pattern I wanted to fall into. A friend of my mum’s had scars covering her body and I can’t remember ever looking at her and thinking that it was something I wanted to do. Then I moved to university, and my life started to fall apart: I had chosen to study abroad which meant I lived 3,500 miles away from everyone I knew and loved; the 2-year relationship with the love of my life disintegrated; and my uncle died suddenly of cancer. I was left adrift in a sea of grief, and I didn’t know how to function as a human being anymore. So I turned to the razor sitting on my bathroom shelf, desperate to articulate some of the pain that was eating me up. I turned into a person I didn’t like, and I represented that with the lines I drew in blood across the tops of my arms; a place that I could and did hide easily, with few questions asked. Sometimes I think the only time I was nice to myself during that period was when I cleaned myself up. That was two years ago, and I have come a long way since then but I have to recognise that this will always be a temptation for me, and it’s one that is destructive and sometimes hard to resist.


Few know this about me, which is why I’m not posting it on my own blog despite advocating for honesty and showing vulnerabilities. Some ask about my scars when they see them, perhaps realising that the placement is likely not accidental. My excuses are thin, but rarely pushed further and if they have guessed then they never say. I don’t want to be ashamed, after all I have contemplated suicide a number of times and so in a strange way my scars are proof that I have come out of the other side, that I have healed. I believe my experiences have lead me to becoming a better, more understanding person. In many ways I feel stronger now than I ever did before. But it’s still a secret I hold within myself, and not one I’ll share lightly. There are many, many topics that I will discuss openly and honestly with strangers, but this is one aspect of myself that I need to protect.


If you have ever self harmed or have fallen into that pattern I beg you to be nicer to yourself. The relief is temporary, but the painful effects long lasting. Devote your energy into learning to love yourself. I am telling you now that you are a wonderful, beautiful human being and I believe someday you will recognise that. It takes a lot of hard work and determination, but help is available. There are other coping techniques. Draw lines in bold red pen if it helps externalise that hurt, go for a walk to relieve your energy, take up cross stitch if you have to (seriously, it works for me - but don’t be tempted to use the needle for pain!),   


If you have never done it don’t buy into any glamorization of the act; there is nothing romantic about the raw, ugly truth of hating and hurting yourself. If you believe it’s attention seeking? Let me tell you this: maybe that person does need attention, because they need help. Support them, love them and guide them towards professional help, but don’t judge them.

You can read more from Liza at www.lizataitbailey.com, or follow her on Twitter @LizaTaitBailey, Instagram @lizataitbailey, or bloglovin'.

I would like to say a massive thank you to Liza for writing such an honest post - the only way to break down the stigma around mental health is to talk about it. And I also hope this makes you, Liza, realise that you shouldn't be ashamed of admitting that you have self-harmed - you are still beautiful and it doesn't define who you are.

If you would like to write a post for my blog, please email me on hannahvenables19@gmail.com.
Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.
                 - Oprah Winfrey



3 comments:

  1. Liza, you are so brave and courageous for sharing this story. I used to self harm and you are so right - the relief is only temporary. There are so many substitutes you can make other than harming your body. x

    Zoe | www.ibelieveinromeo.com

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    1. Thank you so much Zoe, I can't tell you how much that means to me. Sharing it was scary, but I know that it's more common than people realise and I desperately want to convince people that it's not going to help. You are amazing for finding a way to stop, I really admire you xxx

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