I have a patch of 7 small dots on my wrist from where I burned myself with incense in High school. I have 2 burns the size of a quarter on the sides of my hips from holding a lighter to my skin for as long as I could bear. My self harming was mild compared to others, but I wanted to talk about it anyway.
I didn’t self harm because I was horribly traumatized as a child or because I needed attention. I did it because I didn’t know how to deal with stress. Small things would completely shut me down. I was never depressed when I self harmed, I was just numb. The depression came later. It was comforting in the short term to take my emptiness and turn it into something physical. It validated my sadness and stress. I intentionally turned my narrative into a sad story.
I never self harmed to cause myself pain. I wanted to feel like I was enduring something, but not for the pain. The idea of using a knife to self harm still absolutely terrified me. I think the scars were a huge part of what I found appealing. Part of me knew that these small things-that were at the time giving me so much pain-would eventually go away and I wanted something to remember it.
This post sounds very pro-self harm and that is not at all my intent.
When you self harm, you are telling yourself that your body is not worth protecting. When you self harm, you are telling yourself that how you are feeling is permanent. When you self harm, you are telling yourself that there are things more important in life than yourself and your wellbeing.
Kurt Vonnegut, Ayn Rand, and Stephen Chobsky were very influential in different points of my life when I self harmed.
Vonnegut taught me that life is ridiculous.
Rand taught me that I am important
And Chobsky taught me that I can be an unreliable narrator to my own life.
But I also went to a therapist, and I only saw her for 2 sessions. What was most important for me in going to see a therapist was that I admitted to myself that I had a problem and that it wouldn’t get better unless I took action.