Trigger Warning: Detailed description of self-harm
I was 22 when I first discovered that I had been self-harming for nine years. It may seem strange that I was harming myself, but I wasn’t aware of it. However, more often than not, that is the case.
I would clench my fists for 20-25 minutes at a stretch, leaving my hands numb and motionless. I would have a bath using extremely hot water, knowing that it is too hot and unbearable. I would repeatedly prick myself with the sharp lead of the pencil until I bled. At the time, none of these seemed like acts of self-harm. But as I grew older, these acts became more pronounced and started to form a pattern -more so on the days that I felt upset or lonely.
I was 19 when I first noticed my urge to self-harm. I found a piece of broken glass in my bathroom and started to cut my knuckles. I knew I was doing it with the intent to hurt myself, but I didn’t know why I was doing it. I just knew that it felt bittersweet – a sense of relief and pain at the same time. It was satisfying in its own way.
I continued these acts till I was 23. That was when my depression was diagnosed, and I was told about the correlation between my self-harm and my depression.
I am a practising psychologist myself. Through my education, I learnt what self-harm meant, the ways and means by which people do it, and the possible causes for it. However, nowhere did it teach me what it meant to the person who was doing this act. Nowhere did it teach me how to deal with the urges or how to identify the steps preceding self-harm.
I see it as my good fortune, having dealt with depression and self-harm and being a psychologist as well. The insight I gained from my own experience is probably something no amount of education could have taught me.
The author Jasdeep Mago is the c0-founder of Invisible Illness.