Self injury from a minor's point of view.
Initially, I'd like to ask you to read this with open eyes, an open mind and an open heart. I'm fully aware of the stereotypes brought upon teenagers through self injury and I'd just like to show my side of the story, if you will allow me to.
Skip back to summer 2003. I was in Ibiza in the blistering heat and sitting in the pool where a girl, similar age to me was shyly smiling at me. My mother noticed, my step dad noticed and so they managed to persuade me to go talk to her. Being naturally shy, it was difficult to try and make conversation but I did it, we spoke and it was all lovely. Then something was said about sex and this boy she'd just met and it triggered me to get really angry and feel stupid that I decided to make friends with a 13 year old girl who was completely willing to have sex with a boy she'd just met.
If we jump back even further you'll notice that I never liked myself. I'd moved schools three times before I was 8 and I'd constantly been taunted by other kids because I was 'fat'. My confidence even at such a young age took a knock and when I came to be 11 and going into high school my uniform didn't look as good on me as it did on everyone else and by the time I had reached 13 I was constantly covering up from the mocking by trying to ignore it all. At 13 I didn't have many friends, I was still a lot bigger than the friends that I had and this made me feel really lonely. It was about the time where everyone starts having their first kisses and first little boyfriends and it's just a cute time for new beginnings.
Skip forward again, back to Ibiza, and I sat watching the entertainment in the evening with my mother and stepfather and the people on stage were talking about love. I started to cry and demanded the room key and to be left alone. I went up to the room, found the razor in the bathroom and cut myself. I couldn't explain why I did it. I looked down at the paper-cut thick cuts on my wrist and wondered why I'd even considered doing that. I did it again every night of the holiday, still the tiniest of cuts but cuts none the less. I didn't know of anyone else who cut, I didn't know if I'd do it again and I certainly didn't know what was to follow.
September 2005 I was sitting in the doctor's surgery scratching at the skin at the side of my nails and biting my lip nervously, awaiting just what the doctor would say. I'd explained to her that throughout the whole summer I had done nothing but cry and take everything out on myself. Depression in the family caused a strain and because I was only a kid, I was happy enough right? I didn't need to be the main focus because I'm a teenager, teenagers are fine thinking about boys and hair, right? Wrong. I got put on a course of Fluoxetine (mild anti-depressants) and given a number for a counsellor and also given advice on how to stop cutting. I'd gone around all summer wearing long tops and constantly folding arms. I wore an elastic band around my wrists for the next few weeks and snapped them violently whenever I felt the need to cut. It distracted me for a while, the raised white lines making my skin tingle. But it just wasn't enough.
I sit here now, June 2006, knowing full well that I have pieces of razor in the box in front of me, some more at my father's house and one under my bed. I can also see the two week old cuts drawn across my left thigh, my new favourite spot.
The stigma of being a self injuring minor is what affects me the most. The majority of my friends don't know I'm a harmer and this is how I want to keep it. I want it to be as personal to me as my fingertips or the colour of my eyes. I want for people who do know to appreciate that I'm doing it because I feel that I need to, not because I want to look cool within my group of friends. I want for people not to look down on me or pity me, just because of what I chose to do to myself.
The close minded among us thinks that it's only a phase and that teenagers will grow out of it when the next trend comes along. Maturity also plays a big part in society and any teenager who finds it difficult to put forward their case with elocution and diction is obviously not worth listening to. They're wrong. Teenagers are the new generation and if nobody manages to take us seriously now then what hope is there for the future?
Addiction is a powerful thing. I'm sure that everyone has an addiction of some sort. Smoking, drinking, drugs, over-eating, they're all habits that people find it difficult to break out of. I'm just exactly the same. I think of what I do as something I have to do in order to keep... well, 'sane' for want of a better word. I don't know what kind of mess I would be in if I hadn't started. There is something therapeutic about the pain and then the healing. It's a progression, a stage, a project. It provides a distraction but one that you're completely in control of. You know your limits, you know your after-care techniques and you know your depth.
For myself, I can see me losing this habit and I hope that it will be sooner rather than later. I don't want to grow up having to always be covered up, always be wary of what others think and become even more stuck-in-a-rut than I am now. To everyone in a similar position, my advice is to just not give up. And to everyone who's read this, I thank you for your time.
submitted by: Caroline June
on: 21 June 2006