Hi I’m the girl from the story “A Lot Has Changed”. I’d like to ask if it’s ok to want to self- harm. I’ve done it before, but since my parents got so mad at me I forced myself to stop. I think about it a lot and I even did I again recently. I want to do it but I always feel guilty after because my body is ruined. I have scars all over my body from mosquitoes since I moved to Africa. Every time I get a cut or a bite, I always scratch it till it bleeds and sometimes I don’t even know I’m doing it. It scars after and makes me feel so ugly. (Maybe that’s me using it as an excuse for self-harming?) And the lines on my arm make it worse. I have dark skin so it’s not too hard to hide. But I mostly just pretend they aren’t there and hope people don’t ask me about it.
My mum always says to me that I ruined my body and that it’ll never get better. Which is true. Whenever I ask her for advice she says these things:
I’m too tired for this right now.
I can’t be bothered with your negativity.
You will get nowhere in life because of your negativity.
It’s your fault because you’re too negative.
Just be appreciative and happy.
You’re doing it on purpose to make me feel pressured.
Leave me alone.
Just write a letter and you’ll feel better.
Why don’t I send you to London to live with your grandma.
If you want to be spoilt live with your grandma in London.
She says a lot of things like that even though she says I can always talk to her. Lately, I’ve been thinking about self-harming to feel better but if I do my parents would get so angry. And I’m even scared my dad would flip out and beat me up.
Also, it’s embarrassing to talk about but I don’t have anyone to ask. I’ve been playing with my body and it feel really good. I’m not sure if I can talk about it here, but I feel like I’m too young and I shouldn’t be doing that. Especially since I’m from a Christian family. I’ve heard about it before and I know it’s something older people do, so for me, a 12 year old, to enjoy it feels wrong. I’ve moved off track from my question. (I guess I have 2 questions now) I hope you can answer them for me!
Ways to Help Yourself
- First of all, thank you for reaching out to Teen Central with your questions. There are so many questions that need answers as you grow. It’s good that you knew there was somewhere you felt comfortable seeking answers.
- In regard to self-harm, you may want to take a look at why you do it. You mentioned that wanted to do it to make you feel better. Are there other things you could do that would also make you feel better? Are these things that don’t hurt you? It would certainly be better to choose those things. One of our favorite crisis lines to recommend is the international Crisis Textline that you can easily access by texting HELLO to 741741. If you ever feel urges to harm yourself please reach out to them via text or online at www.crisistextline.org. Talk to someone about other ways to feel better so you can keep your body safe, okay?
- It’s normal for people around your age be curious about their bodies. Have you tried talking to a trusted adult about these feelings? If your parents are not an option you may consider an older sibling or family member that you trust? If you don’t feel comfortable with that, what about your doctor? He/She/They may be able to give you advice on how to be safe as you develop these feelings. Don’t ever feel ashamed of your body or your curiosity about it. As you grow up you will have many questions about it and that is completely normal.
- Have you thought about trying to talk to a professional counselor or therapist? Trained therapists and counselors who may be accessible through your school or community would be more than willing to help, and could probably help you understand your emotions and answer your questions at the same time.
- Have you looked at the various tools on our website? In our LEARN tab, we have a topic on self-injury. That may help you understand it a little bit more, and give you more ideas on what to do instead of harming yourself.
- Have you tried looking for other coping skills that you can use in place of self-harm? We have tools in our WHAT’S NEW tab and our TOOLS tab that give ideas on how to use art as a coping skill, or things such as yoga or meditation. Why not give those a try and see if anything looks like something new you may want to try? In particular, please take a look at this Positive Self Talk TOOL. I think it may be helpful to you.