By the time you read this, Valentine’s Day will be over, couples will go back to being frustrated at each other and different variations of candies and chocolates will be marked down fifty percent at your local convenience store. No, this is not a sappy blog post about how much I love my boyfriend and all the different things he does for me. I honestly could give less of a shit about Valentine’s Day as a holiday. It’s just some bullshit Hallmark holiday that puts pressures on couples to outdo each other on the sappy factor or for single people to feel shitty about themselves. I’m not about that. However, February fourteenth is a holiday to me because five years ago on that lovely holiday, I made a better decision for myself. I’m sure that I have written a post about this last year. I tend to write purely about this for my February posts since I’ve joined Open Our Eyes. To refresh your memories, February 14th, 2011 was the last day that I ever self-harmed. It was the last day that I put a razor straight to my skin and sliced it open for the pure sake of feeling something. Anything.
At ten years old, I learned about self-harm. It was from a lovely show that featured Drake in a wheelchair and a school that should’ve been shut down from the first issue that it encountered. Yes, I’m talking about Degrassi. And yes, it was stupid to copy something that physically and mentally scarred me from a television show. But, honestly, people have done worse things from watching TV. I saw that it helped the girl on the show cope with her own problems, so I figured that it could help me too. And you must now be wondering, “What kind of problems can a ten year old have to make them want to hurt themselves? Did someone take her lunch money?” No. Well, that did happen once, but that’s beside the point. I was bullied horribly, it started in third grade and followed me up into high school. I had a family that was just buried in problems. We had financial problems, my father was a drunk (keyword: was. He’s actually cleaned up his act since my mom left back a little after I stopped cutting but I’ll get to that later). I just felt alone. I felt empty inside. I needed a distraction from the world around me, and self-harm was that distraction.
I only did it for a couple of months at ten years old. It got worse in eighth grade, when the bullying got worse. As I kept getting more and more shit thrown at me (physically and mentally), the more I wanted to destroy myself. I was immensely suicidal. I just kept doing it. It reached a point that my mom found out and my English teacher checked my arms every day before I left for lunch to see if I had any new scars. That allowed me to stop for a little bit. For a year and a half actually. I left my shitty school for a new one and decided to start new. Start a life that maybe I could finally be happy in.
Well, I thought wrong. Shit just began to hit the fan and cover every aspect of my life. My mom was unfaithful to my father, telling me every detail about it. She was never home. My father was still angry and drunk at the time. My brother was beginning to go downhill because of his own mental illnesses. I couldn’t keep up with my school workload since I started going to an Honors high school for “smart kids.” The guy I was interested in/dating/whatever we were, cheated on me (multiple times; still, to this day, having random girls come up to me and tell me that they were with him when I was. Ha.), then kept dragging me around. Then when I broke up with him, he went all depressed and made me seem like I was the bad guy. Great. Lovely. More pressure. I began to be bullied at my new high school, mainly psychologically because people liked to use the cold shoulder technique and the “lets ignore Nicole so she feels isolated and wants to kill herself!!!1!” kind of thing. Well, it worked. It started off with me getting a ridiculous case of insomnia. So extreme, that I would sleep for literally, an hour a day. No naps, no breaks. Just running on a single hour of sleep and still managing to focus in class. Kind of. I started smoking. I would get cigarettes from a girl in the grade above mine or take my mom’s from her car and smoke in my room or my backyard. Hey, I felt like dying anyways, so why not kill my lungs while I was at it? Then I found my dad’s pumpkin carving kit. Blades and all. My self-harming started all over again, worse than ever before. My arms were covered, my legs, my hip crevices, my stomach, anywhere that would seem to make me feel something because all of the problems in my life were just making me into the shell of a person. A walking zombie, walking day-by-day without being able to give a shit about anything including myself.
I was so sick of my life that any one thing could set me off, and that’s what happened. On February 13th, 2011, after calling it off with another kid I was “seeing”, I got into an argument with my father over something stupid. I think it was because the kid was over, and we just sat in my living room all day. Literally. Something stupid. I snapped. I legitimately snapped. I ran to my room, grabbed my sharpest razor, and ran down to a bench near the Hudson Bay in my town. It was probably 25 degrees out, and I had no jacket. I went at my arm with such tenacity and energy I didn’t even know I had at the time. That moment is still spotty to me because of how fucked my head was at the moment. It was like a blackout. When I finally regained myself, I freaked out. The bleeding wouldn’t stop. I called my mom, who again wasn’t home and was off fucking one of her side jobs. She said “go home. I’ll take you to the hospital in the morning.” Trust me, I was baffled too. But I went home and laid awake for hours and hours, just adding more and more scars to myself. It wasn’t until almost six pm the next day, Valentine’s Day, that my mom got home, told me to pack some things, and drove me to the hospital. My father wouldn’t speak to me as I left. But I’ve forgiven him for that.
I remember the hospital so vividly. Telling the nurses why I was there, showing them my arm, having my mom start crying and screaming, having her find out that I wasn’t a virgin anymore and that I smoked and drank because the nurses didn’t have her leave when they were questioning me. The worst part was laying in the crisis and trauma center for three hours, bright lights blinding me and the sound of a girl, that I would soon meet in CCIS, puking her brains out because she drank too much and took too many pills. (RIP). I was there voluntarily. I obviously didn’t bleed out the night before. I didn’t have to go to the hospital, but I wanted to. I spent the next five days there, going to various groups, getting school work done, coloring, and making friends. It’s weird making friends in a psych ward. You know you’ll never see them again, but you’ll always have that one hidden connection to them for your entire lives. I remember each girl’s name that sat at my table, why they were there, and how much we loved fucking with the guy’s table because they wouldn’t stop staring at us during dinner and lunch. The best part of the psych ward was something a therapist said to me. It was during a relaxation time, and he asked me if I liked tattoos, which I did and still do, and told me to get some. Why? Because instead of feeling the pain and having regretful scars, I would feel the pain and have beautiful art. We all know that the pain was why I did it, and sometimes, even today, I get urges to still do it. It’s a part of me that will always be around, unfortunately. So when things get tough and I feel like caving, I get a tattoo (when I have the money, of course.) I’m already up to fifteen of them. My first one was used to cover my scars from the night before I entered the hospital. I can’t even tell that they were there anymore.
After those five days, I had a little trouble adjusting to life without self-harm. I was on a lot of medication, had mental breakdowns, and ran away from home. When my mom left two months after I got clean, it took a lot in me not to break everything I had worked on. I didn’t want to be another statistic for the hospital. So, I didn’t. And now look at me, I’m celebrating five years clean without a forced scar on my body. I know it’s nothing special, but it’s important to me. It’s shaped me to be the person I am today. I honestly have never been more proud of myself than I am each Valentine’s Day for making it another year stronger. Every day is a struggle. I still get the urge when things get tough mentally. The job I have has me working with razors almost every shift. Just looking at them gives me flashbacks and urges but I have stayed strong. I have not given up on myself because I realize that I am not worth giving up on anymore.
From sharing my story, I have met so many people who have suffered with self-harm and there are still so many people who are struggling with self-harm. It’s hard to stop. I know. I’ve obviously been there. It took me six years to fully stop but things will eventually get better. Day-by-day. Every day is a constant battle of trying not to do it again. I believe in you, and I believe you will get better. One day. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, or next week, or month or year. But, that day will come when you will push through and be able to live without the pain. You are strong. You might not think so. But, you are, and you will continue to be. Life sucks. It will get better. One day. Find something to replace it. That’s what helped me. Rubber bands and cigarettes. Not the greatest of choices, but it’s better than what I was doing. You can do this. I know you can. Things will be okay.