By G. E.
It made its way into my bedroom when I was 14. And it sat on my desk, where it should. It had a special place in a tray on a shelf in a drawer.
But, of course, it didn’t stay there. It crept slowly towards my bed. It would only stay a while before it’d go back to its spot. But nevertheless, it’s movements became much more frequent, and longer.
When I was 15, it moved houses. It came and lived much closer to me, in a new spot. It lived in my bedside drawer.
Today, I want to tell you a story. A story of seventy-three strips of paper, a snaplock bag, the moon and me. This is the story of what a wooden deck feels like at night, what the wind whispers at two in the morning, and how it feels to lie in bed with It. To sleep with it. To share yourself with it. To give in to it.
It was winter, or maybe late May. And I could smell smoke. I could hear a ringing noise, like an alarm that’s impossible to turn off. An alarm situated inside my brain. And of course, there was no real smoke. I found myself sitting on the carpet, folding and unfolding seventy-three pieces of paper repeatedly, placing them flat in a snaplock bag, and staring out the window at into the eyes of the moon. And suddenly, I was walking out onto my wooden deck out the back of my house at two in the morning, barefoot and hearing everything. The noises of the wind, the whispering words that were in a language I couldn’t understand. I remember staring into the stars and feeling nothing. Absolutely, definitively nothing. Totally and utterly empty.
I think I lay there for at least an hour. I came back inside, and crawled into my bed, with It. We became connected once more, its touch on my skin, just trying to feel something. Over, and over, and over, and over again.
And while this is not their story, 1 in 10 teenagers admit to sharing a bed with it, too.
1 in 10 teenagers admit to self-harming at some point in their lives.
I’ve had so many people ask why, and it’s hard to explain because it ranges for different people. It can be to cope with internal emotions, relieve emotional numbness, punish themselves, for a sense of grounding, and so many other reasons. Self-harm isn’t something uniform, it’s individual and unique for everyone. For me, It and I got along so well because It was such a distraction. It helped to stop me thinking, to focus the emotion and pain somewhere else. It battered and bruised me, but I really didn’t care. It was an out.
But I think there’s a lot we can do to make it easier for people that deal with these issues, this we can do to make them know that they’re going to be okay. The first, and most important thing is not to listen. That comes second. The first thing, is to take a deep breath and check-in with yourself. Make sure you’re okay. Make sure you are in the correct headspace to hear what they’re going to say. Because sometimes it could be really deep and dark, and they care that you’re okay. Never be afraid to think about your mental health too.
But, secondly, if people who are experiencing these kinds of feelings and actions, reach out to you, they trust you. Take your time, and listen. They know they’re dumping a whole lot of emotion and stress on you, and they’re sorry. But they need someone to listen. Listen first, and actively listen. Think about it. Put yourself in their shoes.
Ask if they’d like help. And mean it. Be willing to be there for them, even if it means coming to a counsellor or just distracting them with memes until they’re okay.
My story is not one I am proud of. I was a snotty, red-faced mess. I became addicted, It lived in my bed almost every night, and we were one. Inseparable, It was all I thought about.
But today, if you are part of the 1 in 10, you are not alone. I am with you. I found relief in music, in finding a song so loud and so harsh I couldn’t think of anything else. In pens and non-toxic textas, to replace It. In writing it all out, scrawling across the page, and my body.
And yes, I remember that time so vividly, but there are hundreds, thousands of times that I don’t remember. And that is what gives me hope.
Today, it lives in the kitchen drawer, where it belongs. It has been 204 days since it and I were one. And soon, I hope to see it as what it is, not what it could be. Where I can hold it in my hand and know only one thing:
I am free.
Understanding Self-Harm - Alyssa's Story by headspace
If you are in an emergency situation or need immediate assistance, contact mental health services or emergency services on 000.
Headspace Australia 1800 650 890
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Woke magazine.