Trigger warning: this post is going to be about self-harm. If you are harming yourself in any way, please find someone who you can talk to, someone who you trust so you can get help, or contact one of the self-harm hotlines available all across the world. At the end of this blog post, I have linked some websites which might be useful. Please take care of yourself. Self-harm is never the solution, so please seek help!
“Olivia is doing so good in all of her classes,” my teacher said during the annual parent-teacher conference. “We never have any problems with her. We know that when we ask her to do stuff, she will get it done.” I used to always love the parent-teacher conferences because I would get praised by my teacher, and I was being told what a good kid I was. The parent-teacher conference would be one of the only times every year I would be told I was doing a good job. I could see how proud my parents were of me and it felt amazing.
“It is so good to hear that Olivia is doing great in all of her classes,” my mom said, “we are however a bit concerned about Olivia.” My mom then went on and told my teachers about how overlooked I felt in class, and how I wished the teachers would pick me when I raised my hand and how I wished I wouldn’t always be the last kid get help when I was struggling in class. When my mom said all of these things, I got scared because I was the good kid that the teachers never had any problems with. “Oh, we are so sorry to hear that, we never wanted you to feel overlooked. But you have to understand that there are students in this class that is struggling a lot, and we need to focus a bit more on them. But we will try to pick you to answer the questions more often”.
On the way home from the parent-teacher conference I sat silently in the car crying, and I swore that I would never tell anyone when something was wrong again, because that would only make everything worse.
6 months later
“Mom I hit my head on the wall while I was sleeping. It really hurts.” I told my mom while we were eating breakfast one morning. “Oh, that is not good. Do you need some pain killers before going to school?” this had become a usual topic between my mom and me, I would tell her that I had gotten hurt somehow and she would assess whether or not I needed to go to the doctor to have it looked at. My parents would often talk about how clumsy I was becoming. I would always hurt a leg, an arm or somebody part doing the day because I fell while playing soccer with my friends, or somehow a door would accidentally slam on my fingers.
But everything was alright because my teachers were still praising me about how good I was, and how I seemed to be so happy. And I was happy, at least I convinced myself I was happy, because what did I have to be sad about? I was lucky, that is what everyone kept telling me anyways.
“How excited are you about school? I am so excited; I can’t wait to start. Can you believe that we are FINALLY going to have our confirmation in church this year? I can’t wait to go dress shopping!” my friend Julie said, it was the end of the summer holiday and I have to agree I was very excited to start school this year. I was going to start in a new class, and I would get new teachers, and hopefully new friends. I was so sure that this year was going to be different. And it was different, in the beginning.
6 months later
I kept accidentally getting hurt, but now it would happen every day instead of once a week or once every two weeks. I slowly started to acknowledge that something was wrong because I knew I wasn’t accidentally getting hurt, that was just the lie I told everyone else and myself.
I am surprised the doctors didn’t realise that something was wrong when I would show up at the ER or at the family doctor at least once a week. But all they saw was a girl becoming a teenager, who was just a bit unlucky, nothing else could be wrong with me. They just told me to be a bit more careful when I was playing sports.
I was getting hurt more and more frequent, and I was beginning to miss a lot of school because I would get hurt somehow or I would pretend to be sick, and it felt good, until one day towards the end of the school year. Instead of getting praise from my teacher she told me “Olivia, you need to get it together. You have too much absence from school, you will not be able to pass the next school year if you continue skipping school. I know that you are not sick, and even if you are a bit sick, then you can still attend classes. I want you to attend all classes for the rest of the school year. You need to pull yourself together.” That day something inside me broke, it felt like I was a ceramics vase with a lot of cracks, which had been hit a bit too hard and was slowly falling apart. After the incident with the teacher, everything got worse and I got hurt at least one time every day.
The thing is, I didn’t fall playing soccer with my friends, and the door didn’t accidentally slam on my fingers. I did that myself. I would try and twist my own ankle. I would slam the door on my fingers. I would bang my head against the wall. I would try to fall down the stairs. I was trying to break one of my bones. I even made reckless decisions while I was playing soccer and handball, where I potentially could have hurt one of my teammates.
Every time I would get hurt, I couldn’t feel the sadness I felt inside, instead, I felt relieved, it distracted me from the pain I felt inside.
I didn’t realise I was self-harming, because I wasn’t cutting myself, because I was told that self-harm was cutting yourself, I was just banging my head against the wall or slamming the door on my fingers. I did try to cut myself, but it didn’t work for me and One day my siblings made a joke about a scar I have on my wrist where they told me “Olivia, if you wanted to try to commit suicide then you should have made the cut in the other direction, then it would be more difficult to stop the bleeding”, and I thought that people would just joke about it if were to cut myself.
After years of hurting myself, all I wanted was for someone to realise how much I was actually hurting.
I wish I could say I that someone caught on to what I was doing to myself, but nobody found out.
I wish I could say that I received the help I needed, but I didn’t.
I wish I could say that the self-harm stopped after that school year, but it didn’t.
I wish this story isn’t mine, but it is.
Today, March 1st is the ‘Self Injury/Harm Awareness Day’, and I wanted to share my story. The easiest way for me to share the story is to write it as if it happened to someone else because it is still difficult for me to admit I did inflict self-harm and that I am still struggling. I am proud to say that it has been 7,5 years since I stopped doing self-harm. Today I am no longer struggling with hurting myself, I am however still affected by it, today I am struggling with a big fear of getting hurt, and it is one of the things that still gives me anxiety today.
It feels weird because this is the first time I have admitted this to anyone. I have always been super embarrassed about what I did to myself, but I realise that I shouldn’t be embarrassed about it because it is a part of my story and my story isn’t embarrassing. I am still struggling with the fact that I did harm myself, and I have been so angry with myself for a long time, but I have realised that I shouldn’t be angry with myself because I was just a kid.
A part of me is scared to share this story because I am afraid I will get judged. I am afraid that people will say I only did it for attention. I know it was a cry for help, at the time it was the only way I knew how to show people that something was wrong.
If you or anyone you know do self-harm, please talk to a friend/teacher/parent, you don’t have to deal with it by yourself. If it is too scary to talk to anyone you know, there are different hotlines available all around the world who you can contact, they will be able to guide and help you. I have linked some websites which might be useful below:
Self-harm is never the solution, so please seek help!
Until next time