I am a self-harmer. I have been since about the age of 14. I have suffered various periods of depression and anxiety in my life, which has in no way been a tale of personal tragedy or suffering, and self-harm in one form or another has become my default coping strategy.
My self-harm has resulted in hospital trips, visibly disturbing scars, stigma from the odd manager at work and has caused huge anguish for those that care for and love me. It has made me nervous about meeting and really opening up to new people and about having or working towards my ambitions.
The really sad thing is that this doesn't have to be the case. Nearly everyone that knows about my behaviour, whilst not perhaps completely understanding it, has been an enormous source of support. Those that have reacted negatively have been very much the minority, hurtful though they have been.
I, like many others, have been trapped by the stigma that pervades mental health. People don't talk about mental health because they fear a reaction that is as rare as it is foolish. In my view, only four people have ever reacted negatively to my self-harming, and only two intentionally.
Since July 6th this year, I have been making an effort to move on from self-harm. I have stopped the anti-depressents, I have improved my personal circumstances and I have begun to get tattoos to cover my worst scars. I feel now is the time for me to say "I am a self-harmer and I'm going to recover".
Time to Change is encouraging mental ill health sufferers to speak about their experiences. Self-harm is not seen as a mental health issue, as such, but does often result from mental health issues. I want to help their campaign to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental ill health. This is where I start.