Warning, some readers may find this post triggering.
I was eleven years old when I started struggling with self harm and this year, at eighteen, I was diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder.
My friend listened and helped
I remember the first person I really spoke to was a friend, which was really hard but it was so much easier than my other friends because she had gone through similar issues and it felt like she could slightly understand. She listened and helped. She didn't panic and scream.
With her support, I spoke to a teacher at school but hardly said anything (I didn't mention the self harm, just the low mood) and when I was 14, I built a really strong relationship with my pastoral support office and my GP. I spoke to that teacher for four years and I still see my GP weekly now and without their help, I doubt I would be alive today.
Some of my friends just didn't seem to understand
Some of my friends just didn't seem to understand why I was low and thought that I should have been able to just snap out of it but I couldn't. When my self harm got bad and when my low mood god bad and I was going to hospital for stitches or treatment for overdoses, I sometimes got a bad reaction from the staff.
Mostly, they were good with me and supportive but a few times they were the complete opposite. I remember having stitches once and the nurse telling me that it was all my fault and that I was going to get an infection and I was to blame for it. I know that it was self inflicted, but it felt a little harsh to be so full on.
Experiences like that make it even harder to reach out for help
Experiences like that make it even harder to reach out for help when you need it and that's vital. Doctors and nurses should have enough training to know how to manage a situation like the ones I was in. There is nothing better than seeing a really lovely nurse or doctor at A&E after you spent all day plucking up the courage to go there, and getting the support and care you need.
Yes, I may be harming myself, but I'm not doing it because I enjoy it or because that is how I want to live my life. I do it because I feel so bad inside and need a way to cope. So to all those doctors and nurses, imagine how it would feel, to hurt so badly inside that you felt the need to physically hurt yourself.
I remember one time when a member of the crisis team said to me that because I looked like I was out of a fashion magazine, that meant everything was okay. Now, that isn't discrimination but it made me think that I should be doing well and it made it too hard to talk about how really deep inside, I was struggling like hell and really needed their help but I didn't get it because of how that made me feel. Sometimes I have to ask myself, are these people really working in mental health? I do wonder, I do.
What do you think about the issues raised in this blog?
How to help raise awareness in your school
You can order a personal action pack and talk to your teachers about putting posters up around the school to help start conversations about mental health.