Mental Health Monday; FlourishingFreelancer

by - Monday, November 14, 2016

Good Evening!

My name's Dani, I'm 28 and I live in London. I'm a law graduate and currently work for a sport's charity. I love running, reading, blogging, french bulldogs, coffee and just eating generally! I have a lifestyle blog at BrighteyedandBewildered.com and a hints and tips blog at FlourishingFreelancer.com. I've been fighting depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember but became a lot more open about it after I spent some time in a Psychiatric ward last year. Now I'm passionate about helping others and talking about mental health as much as I can.
Self-harming is something angsty teens do. It’s attention seeking. A cry for help. The truth is, it’s all of those things and none of those things. You see, like everything mental health related, it’s completely different for every single person who experiences it. Self-harm, is a massive taboo subject. It’s something that needs to be talked about more. It needs to be normalised and people who self-harm need to feel safe in their ability to talk to people about what’s going on. This is even more true for adults.

For as long as I can remember I’ve struggled with depression but when I was around 12, I “discovered” self-harm. It actually started out as an accident. I burnt my finger on my hair straighteners – something that pretty much every person has done in their life. But for a few minutes all I could focus on was the pain in my finger and the pain I felt inside completely disappeared. It was amazing. And that was the exact moment that self-harm became my go-to coping mechanism.

For years I struggled. I hated myself and, more than that, I hated the feelings that I had but couldn’t explain. And that was the main problem for me; I couldn’t explain how I felt. I wanted to talk to people but had no words for what was going on in my head. The only thing that ever eased the pressure inside my head was physical pain. It was only ever temporary and I knew that, but I felt like I had no other choice. It quickly became a weekly routine. Things progressed from that one accidental burn to cutting. Sixteen years later and I still cut myself when I have bad days.

The best way to explain what self-harm does for me is to use this quote from Girl Interrupted:
“…I know what it’s like to want to die. How it hurts to smile. How you try to fit in but you can’t. You hurt yourself on the outside to try to kill the thing on the inside…”

In my mind, those words make perfect sense. But I know that it’s not something other people understand. That lack of understanding is what makes self-harm such a taboo subject. For me, it’s not about suicide (that’s a different story), it’s about getting five minutes peace from my mind. It’s about getting that break I desperately need. But I know that’s not what people see when they catch sight of the cuts and scars on my arms. So, I hide them. I keep self-harm a secret from everyone around me. It’s so much easier than answering the questions and trying to explain.

Hiding cuts and bruises as a teenager was so much easier than as an adult. Wearing long sleeves in summer is a nightmare (a hot, sweaty nightmare). Wearing white shirts is out of the question. A cut reopening when I’m wearing light coloured clothing is something I dread. You see, more than anything, I’m embarrassed. I don’t want people to know about it because I’m ashamed. I feel like it’s something I should have grown out of. I should know better by now. I know that self-harm isn’t a solution. I know that it’s “wrong”. I know, I know, I know. But it’s what I do. It’s how I cope. It’s the only thing I know.

The instant relief that I feel is something that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else. I know that self-harming isn’t a solution and I would always try to steer people away from it. Whilst it helps me cope with things, it’s also a horrible, horrible habit…it’s almost an addiction. And I hate it. I hate the control it has over me and the way it makes me feel I have no other option. But I guess it’s part of who I am. One day I’d like to be able to say that I used to self-harm and that I’ve fully recovered from that. That’s the ultimate dream but right now, I’m focusing on getting myself through each day as it comes.

A therapist once told me that the reason people cut is because emotions are intangible, you can’t see your depression and yet it hurts so bad. So you cut. The physical pain distracts from your mental agony, but it also gives you a physical representation of that agony. And you can actually do something about it, you can clean it, bandage it, watch it slowly heal. But it never lasts. Self-harm is an easy quick fix, but not only does it never last but it makes your depression worse. It makes it so much easier to hate yourself when you openly treat yourself in such a way.

I need to move on from self-harming, I need to find a way to bandage myself and watch myself slowly heal. So for those of you struggling to self-harm, know that you’re not alone. Know that those scars aren’t a sign of your weakness, but a sign of your strength to simply get through a horrible and crippling illness. But also know that there are much, much better alternatives out there. Find people to talk to, find activities that grant you lasting happiness, and don’t be afraid to seek help.


And to those who are reading this to try and understand something they have never experienced, I ask only one thing. Next time you see someone with cuts or scars, don’t treat them differently. Just be a friend for them if they need you.

You can find Dani over on her social media here;  FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest and   Bloglovin. Make sure to follow her and say Hello! 

A big thank you to Dani also for sharing her story with us, it's important to understand what Mental Health does to a person and how we can support them!

I'll see you soon

Kimberley Jessica

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Twitter; @kimmcpherson_
Instagram; @_kimberleyjessica
Bloglovin; Kimberley Jessica
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