BLOG: Here’s to Hope!

10th September 2021

Photo of BeckaHey everyone, my name is Becka, I’m 23, and in support of World Suicide Prevention Day I’d like to share my personal experience. I have struggled with depression and anxiety since I was around 13, and it has been a journey to say the least. Through my teenage years I frequently self-harmed in various ways and eventually including smoking, as I saw this as a more socially acceptable means of self-harming.

Although I did have feelings of suicidality at times, my self-harming wasn’t always relating to this. Often it would be to relieve the pressure or emotions I was feeling; sometimes the physical sensation would help with this. I often felt misunderstood and sort of persecuted for self-harming in these times. Combined with far too much alcohol use, these were my primary methods of coping with distress and getting some sort of release until I was about 19. I came to a point in my life when I was experiencing very intense feelings of suicidality and self-harming with more of an intent to cause severe damage to myself. I was suffering from insomnia and it was affecting my work, social life and performance at university.

I decided to go to the GP and seek help for this. Truly, my initial contact with the GP was not good; I felt dismissed. In the appointment the doctor sat and literally read a checklist from a screen which was pretty dehumanising. I was prescribed anti-depressants and took them for a while. The side-effects were horrific and the withdrawal when I stopped taking them wasn’t great either. I went without seeking any help for a while, until 2020. A little way through the pandemic I started to feel like I was slipping again, although I was reluctant to seek professional help I did so.

This experience I had with the GP was nothing like my previous one, I was spoken to like a person, reassured, my feelings were validated; I honestly appreciate this doctor so much! I spoke about my issues with previous medication so I was prescribed a different one and recommended therapy in combination. I am still taking the medication with no severe side effects, however I’m not 100% ready for therapy being quite a closed off person, but maybe one day I will open up to this possibility!

Photo of Becka's painting materials on the beach looking out to seaI’m coping a lot better now and haven’t self-harmed like I used to in years, although I won’t lie, I do still think about it; I have different ways of coping now. I like to go to the beach with my headphones in, music on full, and draw or paint and just zone out for a while. Walking helps too, anything where I just have my headphones in and music on. I’ve started getting tattoos in the places I used to self-harm to 1) cover the scars and 2) have a piece of art there that I don’t want to ruin with cuts or burns, it might sound odd but that’s another way I cope with those thoughts!

Looking back, I think the stigma around self-harm was worse then. I have the confidence to speak about my own experience and address issues with friends, family and anyone I work with. Although it can feel hopeless and you might have the worst experiences with medical professionals, try not to lose that hope because your next experience might be very different and help you make that step.

Talking about my experience does make it a lighter load to carry so if you feel like you can, don’t hesitate to do the same. Remember there will always be bad days, even when you feel like you’re out of a dark place, but push on and hang in there.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings – here’s to hope!