“In case you didn’t know, dead people don’t bleed. If you can bleed-see it, feel it, then you know you’re alive. It’s irrefutable, undeniable proof. Sometimes I just need a little reminder.”
― Amy Efaw, After
Welcome back to the self-harm series, folks. If you’ve been following this series, I sincerely hope you’ve gained some understanding of what self-harmers are going through. Ya know, I did a ton of research for my book… plus, I had access to a recovered self-harmer whom I love so very much. She was very open and candid with me. But now, I feel like what I know (as little as it may be) is more rounded out. I have a broader scope. I hope you do too.
I know I’ve said this in several other blogs, but I can’t stress it enough… It’s quite certain you know someone who is struggling with self-harm. You may not know who it is, but you do know someone. The person you know is most likely suffering in silence. Hopefully, they have someone to talk to, and to confide in. But often, that’s not the case.
CL: Jill, thanks so much for granting me the privilege of interviewing you. Could you start by telling us where you’re from and how old you are?
Could you tell me what forms of self-harm you’re afflicted by?
Cutting, hair pulling, punching myself, and burning.
What caused you to begin hurting yourself?
My past and the fact I can’t talk about my feelings. Also bullying.
Do you still struggle with urges to repeat this behavior? Why or why not
Yes. I’m one-week clean from self-harm, but I still get urges to do it again.
Congratulations on being one-week clean! That’s a beautiful start. How do you deal with the urges?
I normally play music in my headphones. Non-depressing types like Uptown Funk, etc., so it won’t drag me deeper. Sometimes it’s hard to fight the urge. That’s how I ended up relapsing! I’m finding new coping methods every time!
You mentioned bullying. Can you tell me about your experience with bullies?
I’ve been bullied all my life. I can only see out of one eye at a time and I’ve even considered an operation because of the bullying. But my anxiety got the best of me. I would get called ‘four eyes’ or left in the corner on my own. I have never been able to speak in public because I have a severe anxiety disorder called ‘selective mutism‘ so I was known as the ‘quiet one’ the ‘one that didn’t talk.’ Others were told, “Don’t talk to her, she won’t answer.”
I had a small group of friends in primary school and we hung out not caring about anything, nothing going on at home, nothing… just us being kids. But then I started high school. That’s when the worst bullying started. I would be surrounded in the girls changing rooms and asked why I don’t talk and because I couldn’t answer they would kick me and punch me. I would walk past benches outside of the drama hall and would get rubbish and drink thrown all over me. I would get pushed into puddles when it rains, pushed over, kicked, slapped, punched… and it wasn’t just the physical bullying, I would get called names like ugly, penis nose, four-eyed freak, stupid, and worthless. Some of the teachers used to join in too. They would think I’m dumb or that I can’t hear, understand, or see because I can’t talk. There was one time I remember going to the teachers about the bullying and the receptionists told me to go into a small room and write it down (they know about my selective mutism and anxiety), but a teacher walked in and asked what I was doing. I froze. She said, “Stop wasting time,” and ripped it up.
I haven’t been to school for over a year because of anxiety, etc. But to this day I still get voice messages from people laughing at my pictures. Just this morning, I was in the car with my mam and someone shouted through the window, “asshole!” I’ve blocked the bullies, but they make other accounts or use their friends’ or family’s accounts. One of my ex-best friends turned on me voice messaging, etc. Then another still comes around, but pinches, slaps, and kicks me. I have bruises everywhere from it. She’s trying to turn my best friend against me and it’s slowly working, I’m going to end up with nobody again.
That’s awful, Jill. Somebody should be coming to your defense! Has your mom… or anyone ever tried to talk to someone or do anything about these people who are bullying you?
My mam has gone to my school a million times, they don’t seem bothered. I’ve even gone to the police. It helped some. That’s one of the many bullies off of my back now!
Thank God for that! I know bullies are often people who have terrible issues too, but I can’t help but get angry about it. What’s worse is when adults don’t do what they should. Is there anything about your past that you can identify that led to your self-harm? Was it the bullying that started it or something else?
I have the worst past, but… awareness needs to be spread. Before I was born, my dad had had another kid before my sister and I. My half-brother is now 25 with a wife and a baby I only met for the first time Sunday. Later, my dad got married again to my mum and had my big sister (she’s 16). He started leaving… just walking out for no reason. He would say he’s going out and might not be back all night. He wanted me to be a boy so I feel like the next things I’m going to explain are all my fault. Once I was born, he would leave more often. Then when I was one-year-old, he would hit my mum in front of me and my sister. I have memories of us sitting on the stairs watching it, crying and trying to help. But we couldn’t. When he finally left our house and moved into his new flat on the other side of town, he kept coming into our house at random times. It got to the point we were too scared to go back home. We moved in with my Nain and Pap (nan and grandad) for a few years, and my pap became like a dad. He taught me math, gave me cuddles, walked me to school, slept with me when I had nightmares. But when he got cancer, we had to leave and go back into our house. We moved back into our house with a broken window and phones smashed. Me and my sister used to make dens behind the sofa to feel safe. Then one time, we bumped into my dad at the petrol station and he started hitting my mum and pushing her against the pump. Me and my sister were in the back of the car screaming and crying. He left after that. Haven’t heard from him since. I’m lucky if I get a birthday card… it makes my cry every time. Why won’t he love me? Why won’t he be here? He wasn’t here when I needed him. He never will be. The sick thing is, he went and made ANOTHER girl pregnant so I have a baby sister out there and he’s now remarried with another kid. As for my grandad, he passed away in his hospital bed May 5th, 2008, at 7 a.m. I remember that morning so much. Also, I now get abused by my “soon to be step-dad.” I have bruises and marks where he squeezes my legs and arms until they go purple or blue! I scream, but my mum doesn’t believe me! He physically, mentally, and sexually abuses me.
Jill… you have to tell someone, and not anonymously. With you being in the UK, it’s difficult for me to verify the information for help agencies, but I found this website… click here. There are text lines and email addresses so that you don’t have to speak to them if you aren’t able to speak to them. There’s a whole list to choose from. If you have any trouble, I will find someone else to help you, if you’ll permit me.
I’m also incredibly sorry you lost your grandfather. Do you have any type of support right now? Anyone close to you that you can talk to?
I have my mum, but she doesn’t listen to me much. I have my doctor (who prescribed anti-depressants), but I’m refusing to see him because I don’t want to talk about self-harm face-to-face… if you get what I mean?
I do. I understand that you were willing to do this interview because it’s all by e-mail. Goodness, I hope it helps you in some small way to be able to write this all out.
What has been helpful to you in your journey?
My greatest help has been music and my best friend.
What are your plans for the future? Do you plan to go to college?
I want to become a professional gymnast. I love gymnastics! I haven’t been able to go for a few months because of my anemia and anxiety, but I’m hopefully going back in September. I’m not sure if I want to go to college… possibly a sports college, though. I love sports, haha! 🙂
That sounds wonderful, Jill! Do that. I can tell just by your words that it makes you happy.
Tell me… what would you say to someone else who may be suffering from many of the same things you’ve been through? Any words of wisdom?
Just the fact that you aren’t alone. There are other people going through the same thing!
Thank you again, Jill. I sincerely wish the best for you. Stay strong and you will beat this. Take it one day at a time. Read some of these other interviews I’ve done… especially my other UK lovelies. I would love for you to find some support.
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