Thursday, 30 June 2016

Let's All Have A Casual Chat: My Struggle With Self-Harm

This time last year, I wrote a post on this exact same topic. It was terrifying, but after I had done so, I felt a sense of relief; almost as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
Back then, I had hardly any followers, so although the post got quite a lot of views, there wasn't really any response. This is why I'm writing it again.
I'm not doing it to receive any sympathy, nor am I doing it to dig up the past. I'm doing it simply because I want to help people and reassure them that they are not alone. It's still a tough topic for me to talk about, but it's a lot less raw in comparison to how it was last year, so I feel as though I'm ready to share my struggle with all of you.
The 30th of June marks the fact that I have been clean from self-harm for 1 year and 6 months. Being able to write that sentence out honestly makes me so, so proud.
During the time that I was actually self-harming, I never thought that I would be able to say that and now that I am able to, it makes me so incredibly happy and grateful.
I started intentionally hurting myself when I was 12 years old. I didn't have the easiest of childhoods and the transition from primary to secondary school wasn't exactly plain sailing either. I had always been quite reserved and quiet, so people used to bully me, because of this and a few other factors. I didn't know how to stick up for myself at the time and I'm still not the best at it, but it's definitely something that I have learnt to get better at as I've gotten older and grown up a lot more.
I fought my battle, near enough every single day for just over 2 years. None of my family suspected a thing and although I felt more alone than ever, I was almost relieved in a way, because I had convinced myself that they would be angry and hate me if they were to ever find out.
Around this time last year, my mum did actually see some of the scars on my leg. She did react quite badly at first, but I blame it down to shock and fear. We have never bought up the subject since. I just want you to know that your loved ones may well react badly at first. It doesn't mean they hate you and it doesn't mean they are angry. More often than not, they blame themselves and feel angry and upset that they didn't know about your problems in order for them to help you through them. Once they have calmed down, they will most likely want to talk to you about it, so that they can get a better understanding of the situation and why it had gotten that bad in the first place.
A couple of my friends knew about it at first, but I told them, because I knew I could trust them with my life and I still to this day believe that I was right to do so. More people at school found out eventually and some of them weren't very nice about it, but I just ignored it and didn't' bring up the subject to those individuals. People like that obviously don't know you well enough to fully understand what you're going through and why you're self-harming as a result. Those people honestly do not matter. I know it can be so scary if people find out something that is so personal to you, but I promise you, it won't ruin your life. It won't destroy your future. You don't have to tell anyone anything that you don't want to and if certain individuals don't respect your privacy, then that's their own problem, not yours! However, if you are at serious risk of an infection or internal damage, due to how badly you have been harming yourself, then please do get help. I know that may be the last thing you want to do, but it's so much better to reach out at that point, before matters escalate even further. I understand that you may feel as though you want your life to end. I have been in that dark place one too many times before, but you honestly don't deserve to go so young. Just because you are in a dark place now, it doesn't mean that the sun won't shine ever again! People used to tell me that it would get better and I would be fine eventually - but I didn't care about eventually. I wanted to get better in that instant.
The thing is, when you're in such a desperately low place, you feel as though you will never be able to get out. It's almost as though you're trapped right at the bottom of an underground hole and you just can't get up high enough to pull yourself out. You want to feel better, but you just don't know how to do it; how to find the strength.
Ultimately, the people around you can motivate you and encourage you as much as they want, but you have to want to make the change. You have to find the strength; that sense of courage from deep within you. That's what will get you through. For me personally, I looked towards the future. I knew that I couldn't go on like that for much longer, as I would eventually end up with nothing and nobody. It was already heading towards that route. I knew that I couldn't keep hiding it and I also knew that if I continued to lead this sort of life with this sort of mindset that I would end up staying this way forever. I wanted to prove to myself that I could get through it. I wanted to prove to myself that I could survive the storm.
And that's exactly what I did. After years of fighting my demons, I have finally conquered the deadliest one, which was self-harm. It was a horrible, isolating journey and I wanted to give up nearly every single day, believe me. I relapsed quite a few times along the way, but now that I have put that stage of my life behind me, I am able to look towards better, brighter things. I knew that the people around me wouldn't want me to hurt myself. I also knew that if they were going through what I was, I would never, ever want them to hurt themselves. My friends continuously picked me up and motivated me to stay clean. They believed in me. They knew that I could get through it.
Even when I didn't believe it myself, I knew that they did and that's what kept me going. My very best friends and the strength that came from within me. 
Since then, I have opened up to a few other family members and if I'm honest, I wish I had taken that step sooner.  It's probably one of the scariest things I've ever done, but once you have actually got it off your chest, it feels so good! You feel so free.
If you are currently going through self-harm or if you're trying to recover yourself, then please listen to me right now. I know exactly how you feel. I understand that you must be frightened. You must feel so terribly frightened and helpless, but I promise you, you're not. You are beautiful and you are brave. You are braver than you believe. You may think that self-harm is going to help you, but in reality, it's only going to make things worse for you and the ones around you. It's a long process, but once you have convinced yourself that you do need to stop, then you just need to find that strength and that courage to get through it. It's not easy. It's not easy at all - but, it's possible. You may fall back down, you may find it difficult to stand back up, but you will make it. One day, you will also be able to say that you are 1 year and 6 months clean. Whatever your reason for self-harming is, please don't let it define you. Please don't let it rule or ruin your life. You genuinely are worth so much more than that. I have gotten through it and now I want to help you do the same. I know that I haven't met any of you personally (yet), but I'm still right here. I am right by your side. You will never be alone, so long as I am around. All you have to do is tweet me and then I shall follow you back and we can talk through direct message all night, every night if that's what you want. If having a conversation with me helps to give you hope for the future, then that's what will happen. I am not giving up on any of you. You are all little fighters and I know you can win this battle.
Something that helped me ever such a lot and still does is the internet. Without it, I wouldn't be able to write for all of you today! It has quite honestly changed my life for the better. There are so many websites you can turn to for help. ChildLine, Mind, YoungMinds, Rethink, SupportLine, Samaritans. They are all excellent websites that are there to benefit you. You are not alone and you never will be. Try to find your passion. Whether that is starting up your own blog, art, music, sport, baking, musical theatre - whatever it may be, find it and never, ever let it go. Even though I didn't start blogging until after I had stopped self-harming, I know that it would have been the thing that I turned to had I needed a passion to put my all into. It has now become the thing that I love more than anything in this world. It has bought me closer to so many beautiful, kind-hearted people that I may have never had the chance to speak to if it wasn't for the internet! I now know that no matter how lonely or frightened I feel, I can just go onto Twitter, Instagram or my blog and I will be greeted by some of the most genuine angels in the whole world.
3 years ago, I was in such a horrifically dark place. I felt trapped within my own mind. I was scared and I genuinely believed that I was helpless. I honestly didn't think I would be able to get out of it and I can't explain to you how devastating that was for me.
But, I did it. I got out of that terrifying place and I'm now stronger than ever. 
Sometimes, it feels as though it's easier to just bury yourself under billions of blankets and hide away from the world for days on end. I've been there many times myself, but you can't stay stuck in that mindset. You are the only one who can change your way of thinking from a negative fixed mindset into a positive growth mindset. People can support you, people can encourage you and people can stand by your side through the bright and the dark days, but in the end, you are the one who has to decide to make that change.
Opening up to someone for the first time about such a personal problem can be incredibly daunting and it can make you feel scared. It may feel like you're exposing yourself; stripping yourself off from your secrets that you have been hiding deep within you for so long. Once you have done it for the first time, you will honestly feel so much better. Make sure you choose to open up to someone that you can trust with anything though. If you find it easier, you can talk to me first and I'll help you plan what to say to your chosen loved one. You can write it in a diary, in the form of a letter, a text, a phone call or you can sit them down and tell them face to face. There is no right or wrong way. It's whatever feels most comfortable for you. No matter what emotion you're feeling or what situation(s) you're in, there are always things you can do to help you cope a little bit better.
A really helpful, informative page is on the ChildLine website about self-harm coping techniques, so that may be worth checking out to see if it benefits you in any way. You can go to it here.
You will always have bad days. That's unfortunately just the way life goes and that's not something you can control. We all need some time to have a cry and let all of our thoughts and feelings out every once in a while though, so try not to beat yourself up over it too much. You deserve so much more than that.
I don't want any of you to have to go through this pain, but as much as I wish I could, I can't change the fact that terrible things happen in life sometimes that are out of anyone's control. You will be pushed to the edge. You will crumble. You will fall down more times than you can count - but, you just need to pick yourself up again and keep on going. I can promise you now, no matter how hopeless or worthless you feel you as a person and your life may be, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I have found my light and I know you can find yours too. I will always believe in you all. I may not have met any of you personally and there may be some of you that I haven't spoken to before, but that doesn't change anything. I still consider you to be friends of mine and I still care about every single one of you. You are all incredible in your own way and I want you to remember that.
If this post has helped you in anyway whatsoever, regardless of whether you have struggled with self-harm yourself before, then please leave me a comment, saying that you're one of my strong, sassy soldiers, who is worthy of the sunshine. If you're wanting to recover, then save this post and come back to it whenever you're feeling down. Visit the support pages that I've listed above. Try some of the coping techniques on the ChildLine website. Come and talk to me, anytime, day or night. If you need a reason to recover, then let me be your reason. I'm asking you now to please, please stay strong and try your very best to use all of your strength within you to pull through this hideous time.
I know it's hard. I know it is - but, I believe in you. I know you can fight this war.
Whenever you want to talk to me, I'll be there for you! My advice email is; and my twitter is; @jademillardx.
I love you all to the moon and back my strong, sassy soldiers. You are all worthy of the sunshine.
Stay strong lovelies. You got this. Even in this gloomy weather, it can't rain forever.
*Hey there little fighter, soon things will be brighter*
Lots of love always,
Jade xo

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