Content warning: self-harm, depression, sexual abuse
Jumping straight into the deep end, I started self-harming when I was about 11. My mental health for the past 10 years has been a pretty wild rollercoaster, but secondary school was pretty rock bottom for me from start to finish. Dealing with consistent sexual abuse in school from year 7 to 8 was definitely not something that a young me was emotionally mature enough to deal with, especially not on my own, and combined with the already difficult task of just growing up, it is definitely not an experience I would choose to relive.
Now, having just finished my first year of university, I’ve been looking back on how my life has panned out over the last few years. Sure, I’ve started off this monologue listing some pretty horrific things that have happened to me, but like I said, it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions. I’ve met some awful people who are sadly still in my life, but I’ve also met some amazing ones who have got me through tough times and supported me when I couldn’t support myself.
The main thing that has made me look back on the past few years of my life is my favourite band, Young Guns, releasing a new album. It sounds cheesy, but to say that I love them would be an understatement. When I was at the lowest of the low, when I just felt like I couldn’t be alive any more, they pulled me back out and made me feel alive and electric, like I could push through this and that things, ultimately, would get better. Now, I’m not suggesting in the slightest that they were the only thing that got me through my tough times; I do have an incredible family who were just completely unaware of my internal struggle. Although I am close to them, I felt so alone and like I couldn’t talk to them, because mental health just isn’t something you talk about, is it? I could tell them I’d had a cold or a stomach ache, but why is it that if anything potentially even more fatal was happening inside my head, I couldn’t open up about it? As a culture, people are so obsessed with shoving all of their emotions down, because being emotional is a sign of weakness. It’s perfectly acceptable to take days off school because of physical pain, but why not emotional? But that’s another monologue for another time.
Self-harming is a constant struggle for me, and although I haven’t done it for the past three years, to say it doesn’t cross my mind every other day would be a lie. It’s an obsession, an addiction, and like any other addiction, it’s hard to quit cold turkey. But, going back to Young Guns, they numbed my pain. I didn’t feel as alone, or like I should hate myself as much as I did. The scars on my arms didn’t matter, as long as I had them to comfort me. I was lucky enough to meet the lead singer after a gig of theirs in September, in a dingy burlesque club, where I tried to fully explain to him the extent of how they helped me in about two sentences. It would suffice to say that I don’t think he really understood completely, but my stuttering and falling over my words meant that he understood enough for him to pull me in for a long, tight hug, which was probably one of the most important moments of my life.
Again, it sounds cheesy and lame, but I don’t know where I would be without them, or if I would even still be alive. They gave me the strength to seek help and speak up about what I was going through when I had no self-worth or confidence. I’ve only met him twice, and due to the beauty of social media, I now have him on Snapchat, and he recognized me on stage at a gig I went to of theirs on Monday. He’s also agreed to writing down some lyrics from their song Stitches for me, to get them tattooed over my scars (although he doesn’t know that that is their purpose).
If my 14 year old self could see me now, how much I’ve grown and changed, but mainly how all of the trite “it gets better” statements from random celebrities in YouTube videos were actually true – (“Of course it gets better for you! You’re famous!” – 14 year old me), it would probably change a lot for me. But, regardless, I don’t think I’d change anything about my past. I wouldn’t be me now if all the things in the past had changed, and for right now, I think I’m pretty fucking strong.