Stay Strong, Keep Fighting

Photo taken by a woman who has suffered from severe depression. She hopes that by telling her story that she will help fight stigma, and help people to understand things like self-harm that seem so hard to understand. She would also like to help other people suffering to feel less alone, and maybe even share the spark of hope.

About this photo: “It took me fifteen minutes of searching through every drawer in my house, but I finally found the one piece of orange clothing that I have. I’m wearing orange in honor of Self-Injury Awareness Day. I know every day is some other awareness day, but this one happens to mean a lot to me. As someone who has been down the path of self-harm, and had people I love dearly who have been there, I feel terribly and empathize for all who are suffering enough to self-harm and those who love someone who does. It’s a serious issue, and should be treated as such, this day and every day.

The first time I really hurt myself I was in college. I was sad and in pain emotionally and I took it out on myself physically. I don’t want to be too specific in fear of it triggering anyone else, but it wasn’t pretty. I still feel terribly that my best friend had to find me slurring and covered in blood on the floor – I think I had a few drinks and some pills in me too. I was in the hospital for a night or two and released as not being a threat to myself. Life moved forward but my wound would not heal, not just the emotional wound, but the physical one. I needed a skin graft. When I went to the hospital to get the graft, I asked if the two skin locations would be numbed. The doctor looked at the nurse and then at me with cold eyes, and she said that since I did it to myself I should be fine with the pain and deal with it… This was just plain ignorance.

I learned from that experience and evolved my self-harm so it would generally not involve wounds. I thought I was being smart, but nothing about self-harm is smart. I kept coming back to it though. For some reason it felt good. It felt like a release that I needed. It felt like it kept me from worse thoughts or actions. It felt like I was saving my life at times. I recognize that my thinking was twisted, but it had some truth to it. It did feel like a release. It did keep me from worse things. That is how I managed to justify these unthinkable actions.

It happened on and off for many years, but I can now say I am harm-free! I can’t say I am trigger-free. I can’t say I am impulse-free. But I am action-free, and that is what counts. When I feel the impulses rising, I have learned to divert my energies, to distract and try to do something else, especially something creative. For some people it is yoga, for me it is photography. Also, when I know I am going to be in a triggering situation, I will plan a reward or something nice for myself afterwards. I’ll admit that these tools don’t always work, but I’m trying my hardest. If one thing doesn’t work then I try another. I’m fighting. Fighting for my family, my friends. Fighting for myself, my life, my future. 

So other people out there who are struggling with this, please keep fighting the impulses. It is not easy, I really understand that, it can be like an addiction, but there are ways to help fight. There are therapists, and therapeutic tools, like DBT. You can make a harm-free contract with your therapist or loved ones and promise to go to them when the impulses start. You can try distracting or doing ‘opposite action.’ If you want to isolate, and you know it will likely lead to injury, do the opposite of that – go be around people. Go somewhere, even outside for a little walk. Even if you are walking alone, you are not alone. You are never alone. I am there with you, and everyone struggling. We are walking together.

Stay strong. Keep fighting.”

____________________________________________________________

**Visit Broken Light’s main gallery here. Currently accepting submissions.

*Like us on Facebook & Twitter. Follow below for e-mail notifications.

114 thoughts on “Stay Strong, Keep Fighting

Add yours

  1. Wow. In the thick of self-harm, you think what you are doing will help. It will make you feel better. I can tell you … it does. I like the pain, I don’t know why. I love getting pierced, because it’s a reason for the pain, without the discomfort and disappointment later.

    Glad to know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

    Like

  2. As someone who works in the mental health field I’ve had the privilege to meet so many wonderful people, hearing their stories fills me with hope for them, if when they’re not hopeful for themselves.

    Thank you for sharing your story…I’m walking with you!

    Like

  3. Thank you for posting this. It is an uncomfortable issue that most people don’t want to talk about or even see. A lot of people aren’t even aware of it. I had a comment on my blog from a teen about self harm and it was a real eye opener. We need to keep not only our minds and eyes open – but our hearts as well without judgment.

    Like

  4. what the doctor said you about the pain turned my stomach and filled me with cold anger – sorry you had to go through that – sorry you have to go through all of this – it sucks, but you sound very strong and aware about it all – take care

    Like

  5. Your story may be unique but the issues you describe are universal. Everyone has triggers and impulses. No one gets through Life alone, everyone needs help and support with their own triggers/impulses. When I am hurting, sometimes I crave isolation and certain comfort foods that actually are dangerous for me. What used to comfort can now damage me. How do I find new healthy options. This is a universal journey. You are not alone. Best wishes to you!

    Like

  6. Amazing, I went back to studying to help me get over my depression – didn’t help. What did help me was music though. Music which I listened to whilst I was happy; Slowly I am reaching normality. Read my blog , I speak of my journey.

    Like

  7. You are brave and inspirational. My mother and sisters are all therapists and there is such a social stigma with Mental Health. Be proud as you have risen…AMAZING!

    Like

  8. Sharing about our darkest secrets takes real courage. Thank you for sharing. You will discover if you haven’t already that you are not alone when it comes to battling depression.

    Like

  9. i just found this post on Fresh Pressed. I am happy that I did. I just blogged about this today – scars. reading what you wrote is like reading about myself. action free would be nice. I am happy I found this post.

    Like

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this. Really. Thank you. I mean, I know how many people are affected by mental illnesses and especially self-harm (so many of my friends, it’s insane), and I definitely have had my own share of mental troubles. It’s really touching to have discovered this blog, where your main focus is basically what I advocate – just to stay strong and work with each other to keep going with what you love, despite the hurdles that could hold you back. So thank you. Again. Thank you.

    Like

  11. would u be mad if i asked how u hurt yourself so bad that u went to the hospital??

    i am a self harmer also and have been for half my life. i like this blo

    Like

  12. Hello.

    I’m glad you posted this. The strength and resolve behind the words is inspirational, and nothing but inspirational. My last post covered a similar topic too, and it’s appalling how little awareness there is on something as, well, harmful, as self harm. Great post, and congratulations on being freshly pressed.

    ~Cookie ❤

    Like

  13. I know that as a drug addict , I don’t believe in the “recovering” term , who is dealing with PTSD I must be conscience and diligent everyday. Just for today I will be sober. I make no promises for tomorrow and won’t predict but today I will be sober. I’ve been sober for seven years that way. So…Just for today don’t hurt yourself. :).

    Like

  14. Honestly I dont want to click ‘Like’, but I dont know what else option I have to express my little enlightenment I got from your blog. True, Impulses… the life changing factor. Thanks for you blog, I loved your last few phrases. @gnanagurus

    Like

  15. I find that depression happens to a lot of people, and a lot of them deal with it through hurting themselves. I’ve been there too, but could never find it within me to hurt myself because that would let other people witness my weakness. I found my getaway through sports, and that’s the only way I got through my depression. I wish people never had to go through self-harm to get over the problems they are dealing with.
    This story once again reminds us that we are only humans, and we can only handle so much. Also that sometimes physical pain isn’t as bad as the emotional one

    Like

    1. Au contraire, difined, there is a choice between visible and hidden and it’s a big one. Selecting the areas that show is a lot like raising one’s hand and saying, “Yo! Over here! I’m hurting over here, anybody wanna help?”

      Self-injuring doesn’t do anything to “get over the problems,” it’s more like the oxygen mask that falls from the overhead compartment as your plane falls out of the sky: You are still going down, but it gives you a moment of breathing space as you ponder the potential impact.

      Plus, people self-injure in subtle and convoluted ways like becoming inexplicably accident prone and wracking up a score that way. It’s a handy one for athletes and people with physical jobs because the back story of how you “got injured” can be spun depending on who’s looking.

      Or maybe that’s just me.

      Like

  16. congratulations on being so brave and thoughtful. wish you well and hope you surge through troubled times. And as you mentioned, you are there with everyone, so am sure, everyone reaches you for being there as well. Stay strong! kudos and god bless!

    Like

  17. Wow, that was really brave of you!!! If my friends who are in a dark place read this, I’m sure they would change their whole life because of you! Well done!! 🙂

    Like

  18. The final line struck a chord inside me and I’m agreeing with it. Thank you for sharing your experience and amazed how well you’ve come through it all

    Like

  19. Great post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed. That should cheer you up. I think its admirable that you came out with the truth in your post and think the picture compliments your touching story very well. I hope that you find yourself in a good mental state of mind. Congrats, your post is awesome.

    Like

  20. Well done for fighting, I don’t know you but I’m proud of you! I know how difficult it can be to fight the impulses. It took me three years to get past self-harming every day and now it has been several months since I last even thought about doing it. Posts like this really do help! x

    Like

  21. As a self-harmer myself, I this post truly inspiring because I can never imagine telling anyone I know about it or being as bold as you. Thank you for posting this!

    Like

  22. Touching story. It’s good that you found another way to divert your attention. Btw, photography soothes my mind too. Wish you all the best. Keep on fighting! And always pray. 🙂

    Like

  23. So glad that the world is slowly beginning to open its eyes with regards to mental illness. Hopefully one day, all of the negative stigmas will be replaced with encouragement and understanding. As someone with OCD (and who has struggled in the past with self-harming compulsions as a way of “un-doing” bad thoughts) I really appreciate this post.

    Like

  24. I recently encountered some reports that Magnesium can reverse treatment resistant depression (antidepressants often elevate Mg levels in the brain). Also, new research is elucidating a commonality among various diagnoses such as adhd, bipolar, autism, etc. that indicates calcium medited excitotoxic neuronal injury is involved (magnesium antagonizes calcium and is often deficient).

    Like

  25. Thank you so much for posting such a honest and brilliant post. So many people will benefit from taking a minute or two and reading this, so thanks on behalf of those too.

    Like

  26. I pull an angel card for you (from “messages from your angels, Doreen Virtue). The card is called “Shanti” and the message is: “Like the angels, you are able to hover within the eye of any hurricanes that may swirl around you right now. Through breath and intention, you can stay centered no matter what’s happening in your life. This inner foundation of peace has a powerful healing effect. Your outer life soon reflects your inner peacefulness. Smooth roads are ahead of you, and the worst is behind you now. A peaceful outcome to this situation is assured.”

    Like

  27. amazing story. i am 14 and have friends who are having trouble and are in a rough spot at the moment. one of them has hurt herself before but she is slowly getting better. she is a good friend and me and her have been through everything together. i will re blog this in hopes that others will hear your amazing story.

    Like

  28. I’m glad that you came forward and share this. While I’ve never self harmed, I’ve known people who have. There are a lot of misconceptions floating around out there about it, and other mental illness. As a people, we must learn to have more compassion for those who are suffering. Love heals, both our own wounds and those of others.

    Like

  29. You are absolutely beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. It is so hard to speak up and become vulnerable, but it is the only way to get the conversation started! Thank you!

    Like

  30. I too use to harm myself. What stopped me were my sisters tears, her plea for me to stop. So I swore to her that I would. I agree, a form of creativity helps. It allows you to be able to express your pain without words. It is a form of venting, and release. And rather than self-destruction, your creating and healing. Keep it up. Your sharing, your photography, you’re doing amazing. You are becoming an inspiration to those that still suffer. Art saves. \m/

    Like

  31. The photograph is fantastic and, like so many others, the writing struck a chord with me. The line “I can’t say I am impulse-free. But I am action-free” resonates so strongly with me. Thank you for articulating this so eloquently.

    Like

  32. I have been harm free for four years now. The triggers still exist, but it’s a lot easier to deal with them now. I found solace in writing actually: aliprescott.wordpress.com. I was able to get my thoughts out therapeutically. I see that is what you’re doing, so keep doing it. Thank you for sharing. It was a great read.

    Like

  33. Your story is so well written. Emotionally it explains some the different fears we all have. The worse things about mental illness, is that they are so complicated and unfortunatley you can have more than one dimesion. Thank you. I have put this on my blog. HELP. There is no excuse, but we don’t like to ask. lifeuniverseandeverythinghurt@wordpress.com
    Give me help, to help others.
    I am brand new. and would like some different subject headings.

    Like

  34. What an inspiring way to reach out and inform others. Sharing this personal piece of your life shows how far you’ve come , I hope your strength and story help many more.

    Like

  35. I am actually writing my undergrad thesis on the negative stigma people have toward mental illnesses. I really enjoyed this post! keep fighting. You’re story is inspiring.

    Like

  36. Light possess the ability to dispel every lie and transcend time so all thats left is our pure substance and our true beauty enlightening us to the many hidden treasures that dwell inside.

    Like

    1. You write so beautifully. with your experience can you help others to ask for help.
      It is the hardest of all to recognise, that someone could point you the right dirrection. We feel alone, but we are not. However, in are darkest moments our sadness is solitary.
      lifeunverseandeverythinghurt.wordpress.com maybe a way way we can move in unity

      Like

  37. Dear Broken Light Collective,

    Please know that I find your blog to be one of the most important publications out there right now. Your mission, your platform, is extraordinary. You’ve given so many people access to freedom. This is why I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award. Do with it as you will, nothing even if you so choose. You can learn more about your nomination here: http://takeitfrommeg.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/paying-forward-the-joy-of-blogger-award-nomination/

    Please keep doing what you do. You are creating so much good and peace in the world. Thank you.

    Best,
    Meg

    Like

  38. If you pay attention you can learn things when you hit bottom. When I was bouncing around down there due to clinical depression and alcohol abuse I discovered that rather than giving myself up to a higher power as the AA preaches, I needed to liberate myself from other peoples hopes and expectations. I had lived my life trying to please everyone around me and felt a constant failure. I had to take charge.

    Like

  39. This really gives me hope… It gives me hope that not only me, but my girlfriend as well, can move on to more positive things rather than self harm. Hers is much worse, but either way it’s a battle. Thank you for sharing this story 🙂

    Like

Please Join the Conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: