The Girl with the Many Tattoos

How I Managed to Stop Self-Harming

The greatest thing about depression is that it makes you feel that things can never be any other way. The hopelessness is so profound, no amount of external coercion can reason it away. I used to feel such a lack of control during my depressive state that I turned to the only thing I felt like gave me some control. I started self-harming. This is a story about how I managed to fight that impulse and did not allow my depression to overwhelm me.

I am not ashamed of saying that I once self-harmed. This is a part of me, and I don’t mean just because my arms and legs are now lined with scars. I managed to pull myself out of this, to be victorious against my internal warfare. My scars are battle wounds. The reason why accepting this was such an important thing for me was because I came from a society where, still, having depression was something to be ashamed of. No one was supposed to find out. Hush! Hush!

I used to self-harm a lot. I got to a point where I no longer cared if I went too far, and lost more than just my sanity. It felt like no one could understand me and I became relying on self-harm as one does on a close confidant. Every time the pain on my wrist would go away, the thoughts that plagued my mind would come back.

I had no intention of changing my predicament until one day, I did go a little too far. My friend saved me, and I started having sessions with psychiatrists afterward. It was something the psychiatrist said at one session that got me thinking. He asked me, “How would you feel if your child took her own life?” I began thinking about my mother and how I was part of her and she of me. I began thinking of my baby sisters who looked up to me so much. More than that, I met someone who had lost her son to his depression. That really changed my perspective.

I met her when I, myself, wasn’t at the greatest point of my depression. Her son had, one day, come home, locked himself in her bedroom, and took his life, while she was in the house. I saw the pain in her eyes and the grief in her words. I saw what that incident had done to her. She talked about him so much, it made me think she still carried his soul with her everywhere. In her face, I started to see my mother’s face. I started to hear my baby sisters ask my mother when I’ll come back to visit and my mother telling them that I’m gone forever. I saw my eldest sister crying herself to sleep when she had troubles in her life and couldn’t call me up for consolation any longer. I saw my father look at my picture every night before he slept and dream of me when he did. I saw my mother looking at my sisters and wishing she could see my face too, with barely concealed tears. The visions I had hurt me more than any pain that I ever faced due to my depression.

Now every time I feel the need to self-harm, I stop for a minute. I imagine everything that would happen, and everything people who loved me would go through if they found out about this. I try to picture it as if it’s happening in front of me, and then the urges stop. I can be hopeless as one could be right now, but I cannot deny that I am loved. I owe it to all the people who love me to live and be happy. The latter is easier said than done but for now, I’ll settle at taking it one step at a time.

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The Girl with the Many Tattoos
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