Pam Dudding Contributing writer
Why is it that people find out too late sometimes? Why is it that one feels like they truly were out “in left field” as they missed their friend or family member harming themselves? Many people ask this why question, unfortunately after it is too late too often.
In last week’s New Castle Record issue, the subject of self-harm was addressed. Many know family or friends who have turned to this way of survival during pain. One young lady wished to share her story. Though her name will not be printed, she chose to be specific about details.
She said she used cutting to harm herself so that she could either numb her pain or feel a pain.
“I would cut when I made a mistake or did something that someone did not like. Also, when people got mad or when I would get mad at myself for whatever circumstance, like losing a friend or boyfriend. I was hurt at them, but I was more disappointed at myself for it happening. I felt as though I needed to feel a type of pain to anything as I would start feeling numb to situations that brought depression and anxiety out,” she said before adding, “It was a way to feel something.”
She admitted that as she was committing the act it made her feel better “in a way, because if I hurt someone or lost a friend, I felt as though I needed to punish myself. I was also hurt because they were gone or I did something to make them mad. If I got in an argument with friends or family, I would go to that resort of cutting because I regretted what was said or what was said to me.”
She added that she was more vulnerable to feeling “some type of pain” for the situations that had happened.
After she cut, she said she would sit and just think about the situation and would feel guilty for even doing it.
“Then I would have to try and cover it up so no one would notice what I had done,” she said.
The young lady shared that she would never tell anyone about what she did because she felt she would get judged and didn’t want any labels attached to her.
Like for so many others, it was her secret. “I never had anyone join me in doing it. I was always alone or went to the bathroom so no one would notice,” she shared.
Confusion causes many to doubt themselves and demean their own character during times like this.
She shared that instead of reaching out to someone who may have cared or attempted to make her feel better, she felt like she was in a state of mind that she wouldn’t have cared what they had to say because she was going to ignore their advice.
“Still, days later when I calmed down, I would feel better that I knew someone did care,” she said.
The young lady covered up her cutting with long sleeves or extra clothing wherever she cut herself, as she added that people who cut, do not always cut the arms where it’s easily seen.
“I stayed cold anyway during hot days, so it was normal to see me in a long sleeve. The only time someone did notice was when I would wear short sleeves and the scars were there, so it was noticeable to see the after effect of scarring,” she explained. (PICK UP HERE)
“There were times when I did drink and do drugs such as marijuana at the time to ease that pain and feel even more numb to the situation,” she added.
Amazingly enough, like many other, no one discovered for some time, that she was cutting or killing the pain with other avenues.
She did share that she did have people she could reach out to at that time.
“But I was caught up in myself and the situation that happened,” she shared. “It was almost like a black out to the world and the only things that I could see or focus on was the things happening around me instead of the ones who cared the most.”
However, once the scarring was discovered, “it was too late to help”, she admitted.
The person was a friend and coworker that noticed and asked her to call or text her whenever she felt that way. “But when it happened, I didn’t reach out anyway.”
“It was a long road to stop how I felt,” she said. “But the road was worth it.”
She continued, “It will sound cliché, but I quit when I started attending church and God got a hold of my life and heart.”
She shared that she felt God let her know that she “needed not to do that because we do live for Him”.
“As a secular perspective quitting wasn’t easy, but when I realized the scarring that I had done on myself over someone else or my own thoughts, it wasn’t worth having on my life,” she added. “There are times that the thought does come up because I resorted to it before, so it would be a resort to go back on much like someone resorts to drinking or drugs. That thought of doing those things again will always be there if a situation arouses but controlling my emotions and thoughts has helped me out.”
She also opened up to her doctor about the feelings she had and was prescribed with depression and severe anxiety medications.
“I had taken that medication for a while and it helped but I do not take it as I should because I do not want to be that “happy” on a pill so I learned to handle my thoughts and emotions and if I ever started feeling that way again I would look at the scarring and think it wasn’t worth it!” she shared.
She noted that she stopped “being selfish about her life, realizing that people come and go, people get mad and sad and it is a way of life”.
Her issue seemed to be that she always wanted to please people and make them happy. “When I couldn’t, I would get down.”
Though, she is still a people pleaser because she loves giving and having everyone happy. She would always go out of her way to help somebody.
Now she has a more positive outlook on life. “As I overcome things I resorted to, I want to help others overcome that or not do it as well,” she adds.
She experienced first-hand, a personal loss of her best friend who had mild Down syndrome and was deaf. Here’s her story;
“He had hearing aids that helped him a lot and he knew sign language. I know sign language as well so I would always sign to him or we would just talk. He didn’t have the best life because bullying controlled him. All the kids at school in eighth grade would bully him by taking his hearing aids and throwing them in the ground in a field and his glasses as well so he would be out there for hours with myself and teachers trying to find them. His parents had to buy new ones. The bullying got so out of hand for his life that he did self-harm and eventually hung himself.” This was a devastating time for her. “Kids do not realize the impact of doing something like hurts them. Even if it is joking around to the kids and they are playing with him they do not realize the impact that hurt him in the long run.”
This is where her success story starts its beautiful beginning. She decided she wanted to be a part of the counseling field.
“In eighth grade when my friend hung himself, I realized I wanted to help younger aged people who felt as he had felt or those who feel as I had felt when I was self-harming,” she shared. “I want to help those not resort to drugs, alcohol or self-harm and if they are, I want to help them realize they are hurting themselves more by doing that, then talking with someone who would truly care about them.”
She still shared that she feels somewhat ashamed for what she has done to herself as she now has to live with the scars.
“The scars will never go away they will always be there. I have gotten tattoos to cover them up but don’t think that tattoos will cover it up because the scar will show through that tattoo. People might not see the scarring with the tattoo but inside you will know it is there and the reason you got the tattoo. That is something I have to now live with,” she said.
However, her scars are leading her to her destiny. As in the Bible it states, “What satan meant for evil, God is able to use it for good.” Though God never wanted her to self-harm, she now has a new life, reaching out for her to be a ‘people pleaser’ in a much more profound way.
She is now in her last semester at college and will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, minoring in drug and alcohol counseling.
Upon graduation, her desire is to work in a rehabilitation center where kids struggle all the time with self-harm or drugs and alcohol.
“I want to help and be that someone who cares about them,” she shared. “It is hard to open up to parents about the situations. Kids resort to talking to their friends more than parents because they feel as though parents would be mad and judge them or punish them for the things they are doing.”
She still believes a good way to stop the act of self-harm is reaching out to someone. “Don’t reach out to say you have tried reaching out, but you ignore the help. Talking with someone professionally or someone who truly cares like parents or friends is the best way to get that help. If you have to reach out to someone for every urge you have then I would say do it. It gives that accountability to yourself that you won’t do it,” she shared.
Adding, “I want to tell teens now that it is not worth it to keep on the road of self-harm and resorting to drugs and alcohol for comfort. There are people who care and whether it be the friend that left you, there are other people who care that anyone can talk to. Guidance counselors and counselors online for free are always there. The online counseling is anonymous, and it is available 24/7 for free. There are people out there who cares about the situation and the lives of everyone whether they know you or not. Even the church is a good place to reach out for counseling because they do truly care and will not punish you. If you feel as though you cannot talk to someone of family and friends, there are sessions online where counselors will meet virtually for free if you reach out for that help. No one knows what is going on the inside of you except only yourself. By reaching out you have opened yourself up to that help and you realize you do need help and you will see there are people who truly care.”
Also, Mercy Ministries is an avenue for girls and women in Nashville Tennessee. Their number is (615) 831-6987 and email: [email protected]. They have a book on Cutting which can help.
“I would like to add that because we feel as though everything is going against us, like a break-up with a friend or boyfriend, the world is not ending. Everyone in life will come and go but the scarring is not worth living with. Have a positive outlook in bad situations, and remember, the bad situations do end!” she said.
“Someone once told me something has stuck with me; “there is light at the end of the tunnel”. Though is it a very common thing to say, but if we sit and think about this while we are walking in the dark tunnel with no light other than the end, but we walk closer to the light by overcoming the negative situations,” she explained. “If we turn back in the tunnel it leads to more darkness or negativity but if we keep pushing for that positive outlook we will soon be at the light of the tunnel where things will get better and when bad situations come up again strive to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.”
She was willing to share her story, “Even if it only helps just one person!”