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Blog: My Self Harm story

Yesterday was World Mental Health day. It is something some of us have never experienced. Some have either had friends or family suffer from mental illness, and possibly even lost someone they loved because of it. Some suffer from mental illnesses, and have either thought about or tried to commit suicide. When I was younger, I used to self-harm a lot. It is something that I feel still is misunderstood greatly. I’m hoping by speaking out, this may help someone understand what they are feeling, or what someone they know if going through and realise that they are not alone.

 

Self-Harm, what it is, what people can do to hurt themselves, what the signs are.

Self-harm is when someone hurts them self on purpose, for a variety of reasons. It is normally a coping mechanism, a way to punish themselves or an outlet for emotional pain/trauma they are experiencing. It is sometimes a cry for help, but they do not normally self-harm because they want to die (but they can have feelings of wanting to die, and may possibly self-harm a lot before they try to die by suicide.)

There are many different ways someone can hurt themselves on purpose. These include

  • cutting themselves
  • burning themselves
  • hair pulling
  • scratching themselves
  • taking excessive tablets/ drinking toxic chemicals
  • drinking a lot of alcohol
  • starving themselves
  • hitting themselves

but self-harm can manifest itself in many different ways. Many self-harmers tend to be secretive, so you may not see the signs of someone hurting them self straight away.

However, there are ways to spot that someone is hurting themselves. If you think someone is, they may show signs of

  • wearing long sleeves/ jeans no matter what the weather is like
  • unexplained injuries: bruises, burns, cuts in unusual places
  • low mood
  • feeling anxious and/or tearful
  • being withdrawn, quiet and being not as talkative

 

There are many more signs to look out for. There are also a number of helpful services that can help you, if you are struggling, or to support you if you know someone who is struggling. Please check out

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/self-injury/Pages/Introduction.aspx

for more information about self-harm, what to do and services that can help.

 

“I think my friend/ family member is self-harming, what can I do?”

I just want to say, that I am not professionally trained. Any advice/ possible help I’ve posted here is what had helped me when I was self-harming. I’ve also posted what was said to me that didn’t help me at all, sometimes hurt and hindered me. Please remember, that my experiences will not be the same as someone else’s experience. Everyone goes through and experiences things differently. Just because someone may not behaved in the way I did, it is not to say that their battle is any less valid, or real.

If you do think that someone you know is self-harming, the first thing you can do is talk to them. Be kind, be compassionate and most importantly, listen to them. Try to be reasonable with them. Don’t push them into talking to you if they won’t open up, don’t get angry with them. Tell them that you are worried, you care and that you are there for them. They might come to you, but knowing that there is someone who is looking out for you can be a massive relief, and make you feel less alone.

If that person does open up to you, listen properly to what they have to say, and try to comprehend how they are feeling. There is nothing more frustrating that opening up to someone, to find that they haven’t listened to a word you said, or not tried to understand how you are feeling. Don’t try to make them show you any injuries they may have, it’s a big step to just tell someone. Don’t tell them that they are stupid or attention seeking. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT TELL THEM THAT IF THEY LOVED YOU, THEY WOULDN’T DO IT. That is the worse thing you could say to someone who is self-harming. We often are punishing ourselves for something, and already feel incredibly guilty over what the discovery of this would to do the ones we love. Just reaffirm your love for them, how much you care for them, and if they do let you in, look after them. Hug them tightly.

The person that is self-harming may ask you not to tell anyone and this is a really difficult thing to be asked of. If you tell someone, you can break that person’s trust, causing them to withdraw even more into themselves. But if you don’t, they can possibly hurt themselves more, and end up seriously hurting themselves. I will say this: go with your gut instinct. If you are sure that they are as okay as they can possibly be, and not in a position where they would purposely hurt themselves badly to risk their life or put themselves in a dangerous situation, hold off going straight to their parent’s or another friend to tell them. As I have mentioned, doing this can cause them to withdraw more into themselves, or cut you out of their life without a second thought. I done this to a friend who went and told my Mum, when I wasn’t in any immediate danger, or at a point where I was going to cause myself some serious damage. I had felt so betrayed and hurt, and I feel that it made things worse for me in the long run. If you feel you need to speak to someone, speak to a school nurse if you are still at school. Speak to organisations online, or friends online. There are plenty of support systems for you to speak to someone and get advice on how to support someone who is hurting themselves, and how to make sure you look after yourself as well. It’s a difficult thing to be told, so you need to make sure that you don’t neglect yourself when trying to look out for someone.

If you feel like they are in a place where they are going to seriously hurt themselves/ endanger their life, tell someone that they trust. A parent, sibling, partner, it doesn’t matter as long as it is someone that the self-harmer trusts. In extreme cases, where you are worried that they may of hurt themselves badly, either on purpose or accidentally, or taken it a step further, call the police and ambulance services. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Parents, I can imagine that it feels like your world has flipped upside down if you discover that your child is self-harming. Your instinct is going to be to wrap your child up in cotton wool, and be incredibly over-protective. Try to talk to them if they haven’t come and spoken to you. Go to their GP or speak to their school about counselling sessions. They may not want to speak to you because they feel guilty, scared, maybe even ashamed, so speaking to someone that they don’t know may help them a lot. I know it certainly did for me. It’s difficult, but self-harmers can be super sensitive, and may be pushed into covering their tracks and their habits even more carefully if they feel smothered, or if they feel that people are behaving in a over-protective manner.

Most importantly, take it seriously. It may be a cry for help, hinting at troubles they cannot express, but do not write it off as a ‘joke’ or attention seeking. That person is struggling, to be pushed to a point where hurting themselves is the only outlet. Felling like they are not being taken seriously could push them over the edge.

 

My Story (possible triggers, please be warned)

 

When I was 13, I experienced something that changed me (I won’t go into it on this blog) but it is something that made me learn of true fear, and realise that not everyone that appears to be a friend, is a friend. I coped with the trauma of what I had experienced for a few months, but slowly everything just built up and about 6 months later, I had started hurting myself. It started off with little scratches/ cuts on the side of my hands, and then progressed into cutting my arms and my legs. At the time, I hadn’t even realised what I was doing is classed as self harm. My Mum had noticed these cuts on the sides of my hands, and had tried to explain that she had seen cuts like these on people who are sick. I was so unaware of mental illness, I remember telling her that I wasn’t sick and that I was fine, I had “fell over” (FYI guys, people can see straight through those kind of lies. Just be honest with them.) I remember after that I took more care to hide them. I think it was then I had started cutting my arms, using sweatbands, arm warmers, even a watch once, to hide the cuts. I wasn’t willing to open up to anyone and tell them what had happened to me, and what I was doing to myself to cope with the pain of everything.

Slowly over time, I became more dependent on self-harm to survive the internal struggle. I had tried to stop several times, but always returned to old habits. Little scratches became cuts over time, that spread up and down my arms and legs. I started doing the classic wearing jeans in the summer, sweatbands and the like in the summer to hide what I was doing. I put on a front but inside I was scared, sensitive, worried and feeling guilty. I had been caught a few times, sat down with my parents and had talks about it, where I had heard once “if you love us you wouldn’t do this” and I would mumble half-hearted apologies and promises to come and talk and not to do it again.

Struggling to deal with what had happened to me, and being bullied at school for how I looked and then my self-harming, I had started self-harming on a daily basis at first, which then progressed to several times a day. It had become a habit, an addiction that helped me get through the day, to stop me falling apart, to help me survive school. I had started to receive counselling at school after a few of my friends had persuaded me to see the nurse, and get referred to the counselor. He was really good, and had helped me start to learn how to cope with what had happened to me. I don’t think I saw him for every long, but my memory is hazy at parts. I’m sure that I could see what he could do for me recovery wise, but I wasn’t ready to recover and leave behind the very thing that was my comforter.I saw him on and off over the last 3 years at school, and I am grateful for what he did do for me. I didn’t realise it at the time, but looking back I can see that he gave me the foundations to recover when I was ready to do it on my own terms.

I carried on as I was, hurting myself several times a day, sometimes between lessons, always at break times. I was withdrawing into myself, loosing my appetite,   becoming quieter than normal, just observing but rarely taking part. I was falling deeper down the rabbit hole, until one day, I had hurt myself badly enough that I scared myself, and actually asked for help. It has been the only time I’ve taken myself to hospital because of something I had done to myself. I remember being terrified the whole time I was there not for me but for what it would do to my parents if they had found out. The staff there had wanted to admit me into a unit, but with a stroke of luck the school nurse was there, who fought for me. She believed that I had been trying to stop (a few weeks ago I had attempted to give it up again) and argued that going into a unit would undo all my progress. She eventually won, and I was free to go home. I have never, ever been more thankful for someone blindly fighting for me.

Recovery

That incident was the beginning of the end of my relationship with self-harm. A few months later I had my GCSE’s and left school. Leaving behind a place and an environment that I struggled with helped me massively with my recovery. Another thing that had helped me, was being sent by the school to a day out in London to a self-harm thing (I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I do remember Julian Clary was there. Helpful, I know.) I was sent with another girl in my year, someone who had bullied me for self-harming. I discovered on that day that she was also self-harming, and had taken it out on me as she couldn’t process what she was doing to herself. I remember we had talked openly and honestly, and that day we had made peace with each other, and for me, I had peace with a part of myself.

I started hurting myself when I was 13, and was doing it consistently until I was 16. The last time I had done it, I was 17 and really really pissed with myself for doing it. The road to recovery was long, difficult and testing. There were days and times that were really, really difficult to not stray back to old habits and give in. Don’t be to hard on yourself if you are trying to move on and recover.  Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to realise just how far you come. A relapse isn’t something to beat yourself up about, we all have had relapses when we are trying to break this habit. It took me well over a year to finally let go of the habit that I had been dependent on for 3 years. I had to learn to cope with emotions and situations the way that other people do, and I really struggled with dealing my emotions. Relearning that I am a sensitive soul helped me in parts. I spent a lot of my time recovering counting the days that I had been ‘clean’ and then hurting myself again, to then be really angry with myself to undoing all of my hard work. Every time that you go that extra hour, that extra day, that extra week without hurting yourself, you should be really proud of yourself. It is tough, it may be one of the toughest things you ever have to do for yourself. Believe in yourself, you can do this, you will own and possess a strength you never knew you had. If you are struggling, speak to others or have experienced, or are experiencing the same battles that you are.

 

Tips for resisting an urge

Here are a few tips that have helped me, or helped others, to overcome a urge to hurt themselves

  • writing your feelings down
  • rubbing an ice cube over the area you want to cut
  • excerising
  • talking to friends
  • talking to people in similar situations online
  • blogging
  • vlogging
  • writing songs or poetry
  • scribbling a pen over and over a page until it rips through
  • reading
  • listening to music, in particular angry songs

I hope one of these will help you, you are looking for a way to help distract you. There are so many other ideas online that will help you. You will find the one thing that works for you, sometimes you just have to try things out until you do find the thing that really helps you;

 

I had hurt myself badly enough to leave scars that would never disappear. There are some that to others, are invisible at first but I know that they are there, existing, a reminder of a darkness I had faced on my own and survived. There are some that I can’t remember doing to myself, and some that I will always remember clearly. There are times I can remember doing it clearly, and there are times when it was just a blur.

I am not expecting everyone to understand. Self-harm is an incredibly complex thing to get your head around, the fact that someone would deliberately hurt themselves is so confusing. It is difficult for those of us that have done to, to see either fresh wounds or old scars on someone else, to realise that someone has once hurt or is hurting as much as we once did. Don’t stare at someone who has scars from self-harm. It may of taken them a lot of guts to not hide them away.

Self-harm scars are not romantic, They are not pretty. They are not things that our lovers kiss tenderly. They are things that complete strangers feel that they have the right to judge you for, and comment on. They feel like they have the right to touch them, because you were brave enough to not hide them, and ask you how you “got them”or why you done it, to then get angry or upset when you choose not to disclose that information. Try not to project your own confusion and anger back onto that person who has self-harmed. Try to talk in a reasonable manner, open your mind and not to judge them.

_MG_2448
Here you can see some of my scars on my left arm. Unfortunately, i do not have any pictures of what my arm looked like before I had it tattooed.

 

Suicide attempts and self-harm among teenagers are on the rise. Living in a time when this is happening, we need to look out for each other more, and show some more compassion and understanding.

 

Love and light,

Keri

IMG_1866
My left wrist. It is the arm that has the worse scars. I am more comfortable with this arm being out on show now that my tattoos conceal a lot of the damage I had done to myself.
IMG_1867
My right wrist. Nowhere near as bad as my left, due to me being right handed. There are still scars that will never fade away completely.

Quick Fire

Back to back, dark vs dark,

On the count, draw your weapons

1 2 3

EN GARDE!

 

Here we are,

Eye to eye, tie break

There are more than

Hearts at stake.

 

You cannot behave

Like a wounded bear

When it’s you

Setting the traps.

 

You took a shield

to a gun fight

Remind me what,

You are scared of

 

When your words are sharper than mine.

It’s amazing how unprepared we are

When the weapons we weld

Are only in our hearts and head.

 

Eye to eye,

Knife at neck,

let’s draw blood

At daylight.

 

 

K. Thwaites.

Lovesick.

Hot and Cold climate changes

Our time is a changing idea

I am running out of sand

Turn over once, turn over twice

I am poor from paying the price.

Circular hands, time is an endless game

And I am tired of watching the moves you make

Clockwork charm, runs out at midnight

I do not fit into the glass slipper.

 

Life buoy, anchor

Summer sun, winter freeze

A storm in my storm, ringing in my ears

Feeding me poison, passing me the antidote.

 

I’m drowning in my own lovesick depths

At least when the loneliness was suffocating

I could still breathe.

 

I am a werewolf changing under your moon.

 

 

K. Thwaites

Addiction

We all want things

That we don’t need.

Words that burned our chests

Sweet sugar compliments that we smoked greedily

Fueling our validations of our selves

For a peace of mind.

 

We all have our vices.

 

Fresh air is a thrill for some

But I was ready to bathe in the polluted half truths

We swore were glasses filled to the brim.

A heavy night of drinking,

Ice cubes to sooth the burns in our chests

From the knives we dragged through each other’s skin

To prove who had more heart.

 

You are an addiction

That my sweet tooth cannot resist.

 

 

K. Thwaites

 

Home

Home is supposedly

This tiny town

But home isn’t supposed to

Let you drown

What a realisation that the place that you grew up in

Is the place that is smothering you.

I am not meant to have my wings clipped.

Home is more than a building you reside in,

Home is where you feel you are your own person.

But my heart is back in with the Rising Sun,

where I don’t belong, where I did more than just haunt

the empty streets.

Home is a feeling, more than a person or the bricks around you.

 

I am renting this space, surrounded by home owners.

Back on home soil, I have a house but I am homeless.

 

K. Thwaites

 

The Japan Plan – My rough ideas for my dream trip

Hello friends

On the 19th of this month (TOMORROW FREAKING TOMORROW) I am finally going to a place I’ve been dreaming of going to for years- JAPAN! I am going with my Mum for two weeks, travelling to 3 places and trying to cram in as much as possible without killing each other or ourselves in the process. So welcome to my Japan Plan!

 

Departure

I fly with my Mum on the 19th October. We are flying with Emirates at 2.30 in the afternoon, with a stop over in Dubai. We land at Narita Airport at 5.35 (UK time I believe, Japan is 8 hours ahead of us.)

 

First Stop: Narita

We land in Narita, and we are spending two nights here: Friday 20th and Saturday 21st October. We are staying at Hotel Keisei Narita-Ekimae, which is just under 9km away from the airport. We are travelling to the airport by shuttle bus I believe (pray for us) which is roughly a ten minute journey if Google maps is not lying to us (it probably is.) We are spending two nights here to get our bearings, and to explore a shrine or two that are here. I’m super excited to explore this town, from what I’ve seen in pictures online it looks peaceful and beautiful. When Mum and I started planning our trip we decided to fly into Narita, but were unsure of if we was going to stay here for a long time or not. We originally planned to stay here long term, realised how mad we was for deciding this and decided to stay for two nights instead.  The one shrine I would really, really like to go and see on one of these days is Naritasan Shinshoji. It looks beautiful from what I’ve seen online, and the gardens look amazing! There are bars and restaurants near to this shrine that are supposed to be amazing, so it would be really cool if we can check them out as well!

 

Second Stop: Osaka

 

After our few days in Narita we move onto the furthest point of our trip: Osaka! We are using the bullet train to travel to Osaka, which is going to take a goof few hours, but it is an experience. You cannot come to Japan and not use the bullet train! We are staying in Osaka from Sunday 22nd October to Wednesday 25th October at Sarasa Hotel Shinsaibashi. There are a few things that we want to do in Osaka, but the main thing we are doing is taking a day trip to Nara, and I cannot tell you how freaking excited I am about that! For years I have wanted to go to Nara and feed the tame deer that bow to you for a biscuit, and to know that I am finally going to do the one thing I’ve been wanting to do is so damn amazing. I am actually going to cry tears of happiness! Another thing that my Mum and I really want to see is Osaka Castle and the grounds around it. Osaka Castle looks beautiful and something that a lot of people that have been to Osaka recommend doing. We also plan to try and check out Minoo Park, Sumiyoshi Shrine (which we are planning on seeing on the same day that we see the castle,) and Hozenji Yokocho AKA Alleyway of Wonders. Hozenji Yokocho is something I stumbled across by accident when looking for things to do, and after seeing someone call it the Alleyway of Wonders I was intrigued! There are bars, eateries and at the end there is a statue of the kami Fudomyoo. Fudomyoo is the kami of fury, and scares people into enlightenment with his scary appearance. The statue is super mossy from all of the water that has been poured over him, and moss is repected in Japan (there’s a random fact for you!)

 

Onwards: Kyoto

From Osaka we move onward to Kyoto, arriving at Japaning Hotel Kiyomizu Gojo on Wednesday 25th October, and leaving Monday 30th October. I can’t remember what part of Kyoto (North, East, South, West and Central) our hotel is based in.  We intend on seeing as much as we can so I’ll break down our plan for each area we plan on visiting. We know we won’t get to see everything on this list, but we like having a variety of places to explore.

Northern Kyoto: We really want to see Kamo-Shrine, Sanzenin Temple, Takao/ wooden valley, Kibune and Kurama. Kibune and Kurama are two small villages north of Kyoto tucked up in the mountains. They are rural, supposed to be quiet, beautiful and lovely places to spend a day walking around. Takao, the shrine and the temple are another places that we are visiting for the scenery, to soak up the sights and just admire. The temple has a moss garden, and is supposed to be beautiful during the autumn season.

Central Kyoto: There is only one thing we want to see in central Kyoto, and that a market that is supposed to be huge, and just wonderful to walk around and look at. I cannot remember the exact name of what the market is called, if we do visiti I’ll make a note of the name and let you know if my follow up blog!

Western Kyoto: In western Kyoto we were to see Kokedera, which means “Moss Temple.” There are some beautiful gardens at Kokedera, but you have to reserve visiting via mail, which we didn’t realise until it was too late unfortunately.

Southern Kyoto: In southern Kyoto there are two temples and a shrine that we would love to try and see. We want to see Fushimi Shrine, which is famous for it’s torii gates, which follows trails into a wooded forest. The shrine is one of several dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Fox statues are across the ground as the foxes were thought to be Inari’s messengers. Tofukuji Temple is supposed to be beautiful to catch the autumn leaves, which we are hoping we will! Daigoji Temple is a world heritage site, and includes a whole mountain side!

Eastern Kyoto: Eastern Kyoto is home to Shinnyodo Temple, Nanzenji Temple,Eikando Temple, Gion and Higashyama district. Higashiyama is home to traditional old Kyoto, where there are narrow lanes, wooden buildings and traditional merchat shops lining the streets. I am really hoping we get to explore this district!We want to visit the temples for beautiful scenery, but Eikando is especially famous for how beautiful it looks in the Autumn season, and its evening illuminations. Gion is a famous geisha district filled with ochaya (teahouses,) shops and restaurants where Geishas (geiko in Kyoto dialect) and maiko (geiko apprenntices) entertain.

 

Whilst we are in Kyoto we also want to try and attend a tea ceremony, try on Kimonos and visit Arashiyama Bamboo Grove if we have the chance. I know there is a lot on this list, but I want to let you know just how much there is to possibly explore in this area if you are wanting to visit Kyoto. There are so many temples, shrines and traditional areas to explore, it’s really difficult to chose where to visit!

 

The final stop: Tokyo!

From Kyoto we will travel to our final place on our visit: Tokyo! You cannot come to Japan and not experience Tokyo! We will book into Hotel Wing International Select Asakusa Komagata (yes, seriously that is the name) on Monday 30th October until the day we fly back home, that being Monday 2nd November.  IT MEANS WE’RE IN TOKYO FOR HALLOWEEN BABY! One of the main reasons I wanted to come to Tokyo is that my friend is living in one of the small town areas in Tokyo with his wife, anad apart from the flying visit from him just over a week ago, its been two years since I’ve seen them! We’re hopefully going to meet up, get drunk and he’s going to show us around some cool little placces and areas he has found in his time living there. The one thing I really, REALLY want to do is visit the Pokemon Centre. I am a little pokè nerd, and I’ve been wanting to visit one of these shops since I found out that they existed! My Mum wants to visit the Metro Politician Government Building Observation rooms, which is supposed to be real neat for getting good views across Tokyo! We have no plan set in stone for what we are doing to do, I think we are going to see what is going on around us! We’re staying in Asakusa, which is a quiet part of old Tokyo, and according to my friend, is going to be lovely for seeing things that are off the tourist track and finding things that not everyone will see.  We decided to stay here as it isn’t in the middle of the madness, and for how close it is to my friend. We don’t have a set plan for Halloween either, again we are going to see what is happening around us. The only thing we didn’t want to do for Halloween is spend it in an area that was going to crazy and have people packed in like Sardines. No thank you! I am so excited to spend Halloween in Japan however, and check out all of the cute lil Halloween decorations, just experience something different and spend either Halloween or the day after with my friend.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my Japan Plan, I’ll be posting a follow up blog with pictures (expect ALL OF THE PICTURES) that I will more than likely post in two parts.

See you in two weeks friends!

 

Peace and light

Keri xo