How depression has affected me
Started self harming at 13
I was 13 at the time when I started experiencing persistent low moods, which then led me to self-harm. The same year that I dated my first boy friend and my parent’s marriage finally came to a breaking point.
Lies and secrecy about relationship
As an Asian girl, having a boyfriend or any kind of romantic relationship with the opposite sex before marriage is frowned upon, and in Islam is forbidden. So my relationship had to be kept ‘undercover’ from my family especially, so you can only imagine the lies and the things I had to go through to cover up for this relationship.
Something going on between boyfriend and best friend
The self harm started when I could see in front of my eyes the boyfriend that I was going through so much for started acting weirdly with my best friend at the time. I could see that something was there and even when I confronted him he always denied anything was going on.
Overwhelming emotional pain
This was the cause of my self harming. The emotions that I was feeling, I couldn’t control. I couldn’t describe in words or even to myself how I was feeling. The pain was literally so intense that I didn’t know what to do. It was literally eating me up inside.
Cutting felt like the only release
I used to lock myself in my room, in the bathroom, and just be in floods of tears for hours. Slitting my arms was the only thing that seemed to work. It was the only release I had. It was the only thing that kept me ‘sane’ through everything.
Became an addiction
Slitting my arm became a habit. Due to the effect and the release it gave me, it slowly became an addiction and every time anything, even something small, would put me down (which used to happen frequently) I would find myself with various implements in my hand slitting myself.
Didn’t always hide it
The location didn’t matter to me. I used to hide in the school toilets at times and come out with bleeding arms and opened scabs.
Called ‘crazy’ and left unsupported
And the worst thing about it was my boyfriend knew – but all he did was laugh at me and call me crazy. And all I used to think was “No, I’m not crazy”. I never once had a support system there. My friends knew, yet they said the same thing, or just didn’t know what to say.
Boyfriend scared himself
Looking back at it now. I think my boyfriend was scared himself. He knew that he was one of the causes of my behaviour and he didn’t want to be, he thought the situation was out of his control and instead of helping and supporting me he choose to push it all under the carpet and pretend everything was fine, so he wouldn’t have to deal with anything, which then he didn’t realize made the situation worse.
Very large family
I grew up in a very large family, where the main ‘base’ was my household as my dad’s parents and some siblings lived with us. My house was literally like a station, with family coming and going throughout the whole day. My dad is the youngest of 10 brothers and sisters, making me one of the favourites, as I was his youngest too.
As a child I was always on the ‘big’ side and this was more prominent because I was always very tall for my age. Being young I didn’t see this as a problem because everyone thought that the ‘fat kid’ was the cute one.
Weight became an issue
However, as I grew older, hitting 7 and 8 I was no longer the ‘cute one’ and weight then started to become an issue for me. I started to be seen as ‘the giant’, and in many cases-particularly at school- I used to like to become part of the background because there, no one could say anything to me.
Comments from family
At home I used to get the odd “don’t eat too much chocolate”, but the worst was from particular members of the family who used to sit me down and tell me I had to lose weight because I was ‘too fat’, and sometimes used to get laughed at by my cousins, which used to really hurt.
I used to feel very down at times, and wished full heartedly that I was more like my ‘popular’ cousins, with slim bodies, nice hair, just so I could fit in with the crowd and be the one to be praised instead of mocked of. My confidence was shattered.
Mum seeing and taking me to the doctor
It took me nearly a whole year to make progress and to overcome self-harming. It started off with my mum seeing my scabbed arm and then taking me to the doctors where I claimed I had stopped self-harming.
Teacher referring me to school counsellor
My teacher then realizing I had a cut up and scabbed arm in class; when I put my hand up to answer a question (a major slip up for me as I had done ‘well’ to cover up my scars for almost a year), which lead my teacher referring me to the school counsellor.
Counsellor coudn’t relate to me…
I didn’t feel as though the counsellor helped me a lot at all. It felt really formal and like I was being assessed rather than helped. I felt as though I was a case rather than a person with emotions. And because I knew the counsellor couldn’t relate to me, it just didn’t work.
…So counselling didn’t really help
This was also confirmed when in my last session the counsellor said to me “I think you are better now, so I think we should stop the counselling and let someone else have a chance” – not something you need to hear after being someone who self harms!
The major breakthrough for me was when I went to South America for three and a half weeks. I’m not sure what happened there, whether it was the break away from the events occurring back at home, or a change of scenery, but I came back to London a totally new person.
Managed to stop my self self harming
So much so, that I came back to find that my boyfriend and best friend had actually been ‘getting off’ with each other while I was away and even though I initially thought to cut away at my feelings, I stopped and thought about it, and chose not to.
Finding other ways to cope
I have not self-harmed ever since. I feel as though I am one of the fortunate ones, coming out of a situation like this, more confident and stronger. I have had a rollercoaster of a ride in life over the last few years, but I’ve found other ways to cope with situations
Writing things down
Writing my emotions down has helped me put in context about how I feel…I haven’t always been the best at talking about situations I have found hard to cope with so at least writing them down gets everything out of my system, but at the same time I don’t have to face the difficult situation of releasing those emotions by having to talk.
Relying on my family
I have come to realize now that my core is my family, without them even realizing they pull me through situations which become too much for me to sometimes handle.
What I’ve learnt
Find someone to trust and talk to
It’s important to find at least one person who can advise you and someone you can just talk to about anything. Especially when times are hard. It’s the only thing that has kept me sane and allowed me to cope with the most difficult situations I have come across in my life.
Recognise self harm as a cry for help
The reason why people self harm (from my experience) is because it is a cry for help. They want to be heard, but often don’t know who to talk to or how to start.
Write things down
Writing letters/scripts about the contained feelings is one alternative to self harm – sometimes issues may be difficult to talk about especially when the people close to you are the ones who are hurting you. Writing feelings and thoughts down help clear the mind and gives a sense of release.