It goes without saying that there's a Trigger Warning for Self Harm attached to this post and so please don't read if you think it'll negatively affect you in any way, always take care of yourself.
Self harm has this weird view from those people outside of it, people who have never really suffered from it. It comes with this perception that it's something that all kids do, an emotional release for angsty teenagers, something that we grow out of. When you have to admit to people that your scars actually came from anywhere between the ages of 11 and 22, when you have to admit to people that as an adult you still struggle with this addiction that makes you want to hurt yourself every single day, it makes people feel awkward, uncomfortable. The fact is though, self harm is a huge symptom for nearly all mental illnesses, and the idea that people still treat it as though it's something that you can laugh off isn't only upsetting, it's actually harmful.
Nearly anyone who's ever suffered with self harm will tell you what it's like to sit through a group of people joking and laughing about the thing that's tearing your life apart, not knowing what it's like to hide pieces of metal away, not knowing what it's like to scream at your parents because all they want is for you to be safe and all you want is for this incessant emotion, or lack of, to stop. That's the ugly truth of self harm - it's blood on your favourite clothes, constantly worrying about whether your jeans are sticking to the injuries on your legs, it's boxes of plasters hidden away even though you know there's a point when they become completely ineffective.
The reality of self harm is that it makes you a liar, fluent and unthinking - you'll have a repertoire of excuses, of reasons, or justifications and you'll get so good that you're not only fooling everybody else but you start to fool yourself. The reality of self harm is that you reach a point where you think it's normal, fine - if you're living with it every day then can it really be that bad? You feel in control of not being in control; this addiction rules you every minute of every day, it's suffocating and it's one of the worst feelings that I've ever felt, it plagues you every day and still tricks you into thinking that you're in charge.
It's the only part of my mental illness I wasn't sure I wanted to recover from - in the same way that alcoholics know they have a problem but crave that burn in their throat, I knew I had a problem but needed that feeling, needed that control. At some point in my illness, the truth became this really ugly confession that self harm was no longer my worst enemy, at some point it had become my closest friend, my best confidant, the kind of friend that is nice to your face but rips you apart behind your back.
The reality of self harm is you don't always grow out of it, it plagued me as much as an adult as it did when I was a child - it's not a call for attention, it's a means to get through, to survive. The truth of self harm is that it's ugly, and it takes over your life; but it's something you can at least part way recover from. The truth about self harm is a little understanding, moving towards breaking the stigma would help a hell of a lot of people who are suffering. The truth about self harm is it's something I'll have to live alongside for my whole life; my mental issues with regards to it, and my physical scars - and the truth is about self harm that many of us do, and more people need to understand the truth of the illness.
If you're struggling with self harm you can find help through The Samaritans