Tag Archives: abuse

We are ALL survivors

I was twelve years old when it all started.  I did not know what it was. I did not know what it meant. All I knew was that it felt strangely good.
I grew up in a country where mental health was not recognized. There was no information on depression, eating Disorders, and of course, self-injury. All I felt was this overwhelming sense of shame that was eating me alive. I felt “abnormal”. I felt like a failure. As a result, I tried to cover up my emotions and made up stories to explain the scar on my arm. Even to this day, I still make an effort to cover up some of the more visible scars just to avoid questions.

Things spiraled downwards in middle school. I was living in a school dormitory with 5 other girls. It was a very competitive school and everyone strove to be the best- not only academically but also physically. In particular, every girl I knew was dieting and was comparing who could be the thinnest. It was like a plague and I could not escape it. I started to starve myself and would only eat an apple a day. But it didn’t go as well as I planned. I started to binge as well on the weekend and I was not losing weight. I felt even more shameful and hopeless. I started to feel like that I had no self-control and I was letting myself go. Whenever I felt this way, I would pinch myself so hard that I couldn’t feel anything anymore.

When my parents realized that I wasn’t eating enough, they became extremely upset. So upset that my dad punched me in the face when I refused to eat. All I remember was tears mixed with blood streaming down my face. However, I was told to keep quiet and make up stories when people asked. Curiously, no one ever asked. It was as if everyone knew not to mention it. Instead, they alienated me and I fell into an even darker abyss. I contemplated suicide almost every day. I cried myself to sleep almost every night.

Fast forward to 15 years of age, my parents decided to send me to Canada, alone. I did not know anyone and did not know a single word of English. I felt “inferior” to everyone else and was even more frustrated with myself. My eating behavior became more erratic and my mood more depressive. I did not know how to regulate my emotions and as a result, whenever my partner at the time and I argued, and whenever I could not take it anymore, I would go and cut myself. Of course he did not know what was going on and thought that I was completely insane. I would always feel ashamed after what was done and blame myself for not controlling it better.

Luckily, as time went on, I learned more about Mental Health. I still remember my first lecture in Psychology 101 in my first year of university. It was a lecture that changed my whole life. Over time, I took a more serious interest in Psychology and decided to specialize in it. I volunteered at many research laboratories and read many interesting articles in the field of Psychology. Nothing felt better than knowing what I felt was not wrong. Nothing felt better than knowing what it was. Nothing felt better than feeling empowered that this all can be better. I started to accept myself for who I was. I started to see that all this hardship gave me strength and make me more resilient. I started to see, after so many years of struggling, that I was getting better. I can’t say I’m completely “cured”. I still have moments to this day when I want to injure myself. But what I learned that was the most helpful to me was self-acceptance. I am okay with who I am. Self-injuring does not mean that I am defected. It only adds to my story and experience, which make me stronger. This is why, after graduation, I decided to pursue a career in Psychology. I want to share my experience and knowledge to help those who also have struggled. I want to advocate for mental health. I want to make those who suffered like me to know that we are not weak, but we are all survivors.

Writing my own story

When so many people saw only what they wanted to see, when so many people misjudged, mistreated and misunderstood me I could never see the “light at the end of the tunnel”. Over the years since I was 11 to now, those around me saw it as attention seeking.
They never understood.
I got to a point earlier this year when I thought that it would be better for everyone if I wasn’t around, if I was to just disappear from this earth. Would anyone miss me? Probably not, were my thoughts. I didn’t know if anyone would miss me, but I did know that I would miss those around me. That sounds so corny but that’s how I felt.
Each day that I endured; at school where I feel lost with my friends, at home where all the time there was pain and abuse when home should be a “tranquil haven”. Why does society think that every home is the same. Why did people look at my body and judge me for what I had done. They had no idea what home life was like. Why should they? They’d never stopped to ask what the marks were for, or why I had cut so deep. They never asked.
I don’t look at self harm as a disability or a bad thing, I look at self harm as an easy way out.

My home life, was inpredictable. The arguments and fighting would be fine to handle.  On the outside, when I turned 15, I no longer cared what others saw. They wouldn’t understand anyway. The fighting would be frequent and my escape was to draw until I couldn’t stand it any longer and a blade was the next solution.
I loved to draw when I was younger, the sound of the paint being applied to the piece of artwork I was creating used to be my favourite sound.
I viewed my paintings as graceful and beautiful, but my friends thought they were depressing and soulless. That shattered my world, and I turned into a shell of a girl. Cliche, I know but I couldn’t seem to help it. I was falling into a darker hole and it was my so called friends who had put me there.

I made this one friend who I happened to find by chance, she was new to my school and we had not talked much since she arrived but that first class I remember with her, she never judged me as I sat next to her in my uniform, I knew she saw the cuts but she never stared. After a while we started to spend more time with each other out of lessons and we became the closest of friends. I never thought I’d be so lucky as to find someone who I bonded so closely with. I didn’t think I deserved it but she was mine and I was hers. We were each others’ equals me and her. We did everything together.
I noticed that she began to become quite quiet and withdrew herself from others when I got to know her better but with me she seemed to be open and social.
We appeared to bring the best out in each other.
We were in the park when she did something I’d never expected, she pulled the sleeves of her top up and showed me her scars. I was shocked and she cried, she said “you can give up on your family, you can give up on friends, but never give up on yourself.” She cried and we held each other until i said to her  “I’ll never let you down”. I meant this from the heart and we have been inseparable since.
My life changed because of her. We both promised each other to never give up on each other or ourselves.

I’m not going to say that my life was changed just like that. But I now had someone. I had someone who understood without asking “why”, “with what” and “are you okay?” We knew that we were never going to be “okay” because no one is ever “okay”. A life is never perfect and a life is never too bad to end. I realized that I’m not living today because I’m doing it for someone else, I’m living today because I haven’t given up on myself yet.

I hope this helps someone out there to realise that they too have the potential in their own life to live for themself and not for someone else because although it may be hard to grasp but we are all individuals, we all have something to offer.

Please don’t give up.

How My Celebrity Crush Saved My Life

I know this may sound weird but yes, someone famous who doesn’t even know I exist actually saved my life.
At the beginning of last year I started suffering from depression and self-harming. No one knew about this until one of my “best friends” saw the scars on my wrist and told my other friends. They all came to my house and started yelling at me and telling me stuff like “idiot” and “stupid”. Of course they told me that self-harming wasn’t the answer and forced me to tell them what was going on with me. I couldn’t explain what  was happening to me so I just told them that I hated myself, which was true, but there was more than just that. I was 14 at the time and I didn’t receive any attention from my mum, in fact, sometimes she left me having dinner all by myself or told me that I was stupid, useless, fat, stuff like that. So what I always thought was: “if my mother doesn’t love me, how am I supposed to love myself?”. My friends made me tell them all the things I didn’t like about me and then left, because they thought that I’d get better with just one talk where they treated me like I was some stupid girl who just self-harmed for fun, until one day my actual best friend came to my house and told me that she used to self harm too and to listen to a link on her tumblr page. When I opened the link I saw that it was from Calum Hood, who I swear is the love of my life and makes me happy every time I need. I never told my friends that the reason I stopped self-harming was that link because I knew they would think it was dumb and I mean, I wouldn’t blame them because it’s lame to think some random guy who makes music helped someone to stop cutting but yeah that’s the truth and if someone needs it, even though they don’t know who Calum Hood is, it can be really helpful, so please if anyone needs it, I’ll put the link at the end of my story.
If you are still reading I want to thank you, it means a lot and if you are going through this stuff, you’ll get over it. I know it’s hard and it may seem the end of the world but that’s not true and someone out there cares about you, you just need to find the right person to talk to about this because not everyone understands.

Anyway, stay strong, I love you

Your story isn’t over!

I turned to self harm (cutting) my sophomore year of high school when a friend of my who self harmed glorified it. I came from a family of dysfunction. My parents were divorced when I was the age of 1 and both remarried few years later. I was forced to move with my mom and step dad more than 10 hours from my dad and family at the age of 7. At a young age I felt llike I had nobody to talk to, I didn’t get along with my step dad and me and my mom didn’t have the best relationship either. As I grew up I didn’t know how to express problems or feelings, I just let them be anda go on with life. My sophomore year I begin being bullied by my so called friends, I felt betrayed, useless and alone. My best friend at the time told me about how she cut and how the feeling of cutting your skin so deep took away the pain. I tried it not knowing that it would end up becoming a addiction and my inner demon. I would cut every time I began feeling stressed, mad, sad, alone pretty much anyway other than happy. As years kept going my urge to cut became stronger. I became suicidal and would even write out my letters to family. Nobody knew my secret until my freshman year of college. I would lie about self harming, I would cut in places that people couldn’t see, I would wear long sleeves in the middle of Summer. The middle of my sophomore year I got into a relationship with a guy who seemed so wonderful who ended up becoming my abuser. I was so ashamed and afraid to tell anyone my problems in my relationship so instead I kept it to myself. My boyfriend knew I struggled with cutting and used it against me, he would encourage me to cut, he would grab my arms where I had opened wounds or slap them so the pain was painful. I became so depressed and turned to cutting multiple times a day everyday. I spoke out that I was suicidal and was placed into a mental hospital. After being in the mental hospital for a week I got out and felt embarrassed that everyone knew I was in a mental hospital for suicide. I began cutting and turned to anorexia as a way to take away all the pain. After 4  years of self harming I finally decided I no longer wanted to hurt my body I took it upon myself to get help and recover. I went to counseling and a Christ center recovery group called celebrate recovery. I was clean for 2 months and relapsed after being overwhelmed and stressed out. I stopped attending church, counseling, celebrate recovery and everything helping me recover.  I started attending celebrate recovery 6 months ago and realized that my life is worth something beautiful, and my story wasn’t over. God has delivered me from self harming 6 months ago. I faithfully attend celebrate recovery weekly. God has worked within my life and has placed people in my life to help me along my recovery journey. I now have a different kind of confidence in who I am. I use my scars as a way to share my story and teach others about God. Although I went through a really rough 5 years of self harming I am blessed to have overcome it and share my story with others.

Your story isn’t over!

Stop hiding. Let the light find you…you are beautiful.

It is interesting, is it not, the ability we humans have to hide? Like the world’s best chameleons – we can blend not just our looks but our very personalities to better fit in the world around us. But unlike the chameleon, the effect of these changes is not fluid. Our brains are not infinitely flexible. Close, perhaps, but they do have hard limits. Eventually, the price of constant blending is the loss of the background image – and we have need of a base for our selves.

While self-harm does not always stem from abuse, I would say that many of us who were subjected to long-term trauma end up with a desire for self harm. Why not? If those we depended on for everything thought we should be hurt, how can we have any other identity? Through drugs, through eating disorders, through any and every way we can indirectly or directly cause ourselves pain, we find what we are most used to. In a twisted way, what brings us “comfort” and a “sense of home” is pain and hurt.  And there is nothing quite like taking command of the pain, is there? When you can control it, deliver it, see it, feel it, numb it, and wear it – it can no longer be hidden. It is the chameleon saying “I HAVE MY OWN SKIN, YOU CAN SEE ME.” Even if you cover it up with sleeves and scarves and bandages, the mirror screams it. “YOU CAN SEE ME.”

How do I know this? I lived it. Live it. Yesterday, today, tomorrow. Self-injury is not something that “just goes away”. It can’t be “positive thought” out. Telling someone who has grown used to and dependent on pain to “just stop” is as useless as spitting on a forest fire. And for those of us struggling to get better, it is maddening to have so many misunderstand. We don’t do it for attention. We are shamed by what we do. Most of us want to stop – and even if you don’t now, you will. I promise. At some point you will come to realize you don’t live in a vaccuum. No matter how much you might not want to believe it, there are people who care about you, who don’t want you hurt or dead, and you do make a difference in the world for the better. Like “It’s a Wonderful Life”, each one of us has some effect for good on this planet, and your actions directly affect others. So – you will come to a point when you say, “I have to stop.”
The good news. You can.

It won’t be easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. The truth is, if you have done it for a long time, it might take you a long time to stop. It’s also true the desire never completely leaves you. But you CAN STOP. And you need to. We need you. The world needs you. It is just that simple. The world needs people who have hurt and understand that hurting is not the answer.

Chances are you will need help. For most, if not all of us, that means professional help. Good therapy is not hocus pocus. It is hard work, and it can’t be done with just anyone. You have to find the right person to trust your soul with, and I know how next-to-impossible that can feel. You’ve spent your whole life only trusting in the pain and yourself. How can you learn to do otherwise? I don’t have an easy answer. And the therapist doesn’t do it for you. At best, they are a guide in the darkest of your places – and when you finally get into the light you will walk on your own.  But you need help to get out of the pit you’re in. The kind of darkness you have been carrying needs a light and chances are you are stuck without one. People carry lights inside them. Find someone to share their light until you can get yours bright again. Then – who knows – you might be a light to others.

Why should you trust me, you might ask? Who the hell am I to speak to your pain, your scars, your experience? What right do I have to tell you what to do?

Because I am you  – on the other side of where you are now –  but part of me will always be there. I have the light and the dark, and I still find myself lost there from time to time. If you saw me, you would never know at first that I was anything but successful; solid marriage of 20 years that has survived its’ share of hardships; two healthy, uber successful children who excel at all they do; thriving art business; and animal rescue and therapy work that changed countless lives. But I know the darkness. I barely survived it. Look closer and you will see the crisscross of scars, the marks of pain that life has left on me – and I have helped make them. I wear my pain.

But I am better. More and more often, I choose to put down the knife, to choose a bloodless outcome, to hold the pain in my mind because I know it WILL NOT LAST. It might feel like I cannot control it, like I cannot hold it for one single second longer – but then I do, and it lessens… it lessens and I did not cut. I did not cut. I did not cut. And then I know, I *know* I can make a different choice. It. Is. Possible.

And when you know the impossible is possible, everything changes.

Stop hiding. Let the light find you, because even with your scars – you are beautiful.