I was 25 when I first harmed myself.
I used a Swiss Army knife to cut the back of my right hand cutting so deeply I sliced through four tendons. I had drunk a bottle of wine and was desperately low and sad locked into a vicious rumination cycle that was telling me I was worthless and a fraud. I had no right to be depressed, no one would ever believe I was depressed, my life looked perfect. My thinking took a manic turn along with very poor reasoning, if there was a physical sign of my feelings it couldn’t be denied. So I thought about cutting myself, found the pen knife and did it. An ambulance was called and I was taken to A&E.
The following two days in hospital did nothing but reinforce my ideas that I was indeed worthless. I was put in a side room on my own, nurses passed by frequently but didn’t come in and talk to me. Well I deserved that, didn’t I, I had harmed myself, others were more important. My plan that a visible ‘cry for help' would be acknowledged backfired spectacularly. The duty psychiatrist was only interested if I had been trying to commit suicide and when I said no she left. I was patched up and released as a surgical case, there was no follow up. This episode confirmed in me that I wasn’t worth paying attention to and that there was no point asking for help. This logic lived alongside me as I continued to suffer but now I just withdrew and used alcohol to try and quieten the destructive thoughts. I believed I was in control but I wasn’t. I would finally be diagnosed in my 40’s with bipolar mood disorder.
The stigma around self harm has to be addressed, if the nurses and the psychiatrist had taken the time to talk to me I would have spoken up but they didn’t. If individuals within the health system remain ignorant more people are going to suffer. Early intervention makes dealing with the situation easier for all concerned we must be able to ask the difficult questions, not doing so is a dereliction of our humanity.