Reader QUIT: Self-Harm (by Brittany Marie Carlton)

Depressed and lonelyCordelia note:  If this story resonates with you or makes you think of someone you know, please reach out for help.  Self-harm is a serious mental disorder, and you do not need to go through it alone.  Please see the resources listed at the end of this post for further information.

 

I am quitting self-harm.  If you don’t know what that is, it is what it sounds like.  Self-harm is defined as “the intentional, direct injuring of body tissue most often done without suicidal intentions.”  The most common forms are cutting, burning, and hair pulling.

There are many different reasons on why people self-harm.  I started doing it just to feel in control of something.  I could never control what happened in my past, but this I had control of.  The pain would tell me that I was still alive.  I wanted people to see know I felt on the inside, so I put it on the outside.  I lost a close friend, my uncle, and my grandma all within 2 years.  Being a child who was already depressed, this just made me spiral out of control.  I tried gain control back by self-harming.

Many people don’t know this, but self-harm is an addiction.  I have been doing it for around 6 years, and it is very hard to “quit,” just like any other addiction would be.

Moving past the pain

I am quitting because after a long night of being really depressed and upset not that long ago, I realized there are people out there struggling every day just like me.  I didn’t want to feel pain anymore.  Not physical or emotional.  I knew that we all need help, and that if we all just keep doing what we are doing, then nothing will change.

That night, I wrote down “My Story” in a notebook my social worker gave me.  It was 8 pages long.  I decided to start “My Story” (the blog) about 2 days later.  I started it to share my story with the world, while trying to help others and show them that they can overcome these issues as well.  The My Story Facebook page is also a place where I post daily on how I am doing on my journey to recovery.

I saw a girl once at my high school who lifted up her shirt, and it was just cut after cut after cut—there were about 20 of them.  And someone touched them and said “Cool.”  NO! I thought. There is nothing cool about it.  Ever since I started My Story, people have been very supportive. There are a few people who slip through the cracks and try to put me down, sometimes even my own family, but I just have to move past the few negative people and look to the 2,800+ supporters I have.  Just because you have the same blood doesn’t mean you are family.  I learned that the hard way.

Taking a stand, for myself

I have seen social workers on and off ever since I was around 15.  I am almost 20 now.  None of them seemed to help that much, if at all. Yes, I would stop self-harming for a few days, or a few weeks or maybe a month or so.  But it always came back.

Right now, I am 136 days self-harm free.  This time, I am doing things differently.

I still see a social worker, who I’ve seen for about 3 of the last 5 years, and she has helped me the most.  She knows the most about me, and I feel best with her.  Along with her, I decided to get extra help since I didn’t feel like it wasn’t working out completely.  I now see a therapist alongside a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist prescribed me two medications. One is an antidepressant and the other is also an antidepressant but can also be used to help sleep, which is why she prescribed it to me.

Another thing I have learned is that you have to keep your mind busy when you feel like you want to self-harm. I do things like make bracelets, paint, and manage my FB page.  There is a list of 99 things to do instead of cutting that is posted on my page.  They all involve you doing something and keeping busy.

If you are someone who is struggling with self-harm, you are not alone.  I know it may feel that way, but there are millions of us out there.  If you need help, just reach out and I can promise you that someone’s hand will be there.  Mine will be one of them.  I talk to people every day that struggle, and I am there for all of my supporters every day.

 

BrittanyBrittany Marie Carlton has suffered from depression ever since she was a child and from self-harm for about 6 years.  She’s just a young lady living in MI trying to overcome these daily struggles. You can read her story on her blog, join her Facebook community to connect with others suffering from depression and self-harm, and follow her on Twitter @IceBox313.

 Interested in submitting a Reader Quit of your own?  Check out how here.

 

For Further Information:

If you’re interested in learning more about recognizing, treating, and coping with mental illness, here are some resources that I’ve found to be helpful.  Don’t go it alone.  There  are so many of us out there ready to help, and seeing a professional is the first step towards recovery.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Mayo Clinic – Mental Illness

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

American Psychiatric Association

 

Image:  Lst1984

Never miss a post! Sign up here and get a free copy of Your Guide to Calling It Quits.

  • Blessings to you, Brittany ~
    and Congratulations for your progress!

    Saying (out-loud and in-public, or even in a whisper to your bestest friend), “I hurt, and I need help” is a very, very difficult and therefore brave thing to do, no matter what it is that you need help with.

  • Cordelia’s Mom

    I agree with Karen. I can’t imagine the courage it has taken you to not only deal with your struggles, but to go public about them. I can see from your photo that you are a beautiful young woman with determination in your eyes. Day by day it will become just a little easier, hopefully, until you realize that, hey, it has been a whole year now, or hey it has been five years, or hey – you totally forgot to even keep track of the time! We’re all here for you.

    • Thanks, CM!

      (I’m in a bit of a downish spot today, myself – recovering from a long (fun, but long!) weekend, and a long, intense class this afternoon, so your ‘validation’ of my comment means an extra lot to me!)

  • I can’t tell you how awesome you are for taking this journey, and for sharing it with others. You have no idea how many people you may have inspired to take action in their own lives by being so open and brave. I’m rooting for you all the way–keep me updated on the count, girl!