I Self Harm, And It’s Helped Me To Survive Being Transgender

self-harm-alamy-1375791308

Probably not something that most people would want to admit, but I self harm.  I intentionally hurt myself.  I do it to survive.  I’ve told a few people over the last few years, but I think that maybe they’ve thought that I was joking around because they never mentioned it to me again.  Or they simply tell me ‘don’t do that’, with no other alternative given with how to cope.

I think it’s one of those things that unless you do it yourself you’ll never understand why someone else would do it.  I mean, what rational person would intentionally hurt themselves right?  It’s not even like it’s the same as S&M, it’s not used during sex, which makes it easier to understand.

If I were to tell someone that I like to feel pain when I have sex or masturbate then I’d get a raised eyebrow, maybe someone blushing, possibly some intrigue.  When I tell someone that I self harm though they look at me with a mixture of shock, revulsion and pity.  People act like I’ve admitted to having performed some deeply terrible crime.  They condemn it and quickly change the subject.

The thing is, I don’t do it all the time, it’s not like I choose to unwind of an evening with a soak in the bath, watching a movie and cutting myself.  I can go long, long times without feeling the need to hurt myself.  And that’s what it is, it’s a need.

Self harm, for me, is a way of coping.  I need to hurt myself physically to help my self emotionally.  Crazy I know, but sometimes it’s better to hurt physically than to feel the pain where it does the most damage.

This will be the point where people tell me that I should just talk to someone instead, to speak about how I’m feeling to friends and family.  Good advice, really.  One problem with that though is that it just doesn’t work that way.  You don’t always have someone there for you, you don’t always have someone willing to help, sometimes you can’t even being to talk about what’s wrong.  The only way to relieve the pain is to hurt yourself.

I never intended to start, I always thought that self harm was a bad thing, that the people who did it were weak, or that they were stupid for hurting themselves, the way most people look at it.  Then I figured out that I was transgender and the amount of pain I felt went through the roof.  I was depressed before, but not nearly as much.  The phrase ‘ignorance is bliss’ never spoke truer to me than about the level of pain knowing I’m trans has brought me.

The pain was bad, but I was coping.  Then I found out that my doctors had messed up my treatment, that they’d wasted a whole year for nothing.  That’s when I hit bottom.  I was alone in the dark, no one around to talk to, no one to give me something so simple as a hug.  That night I seriously considered killing myself.

It was as I sat in the dark wondering if it was even worth trying to carry on at all that I started to hurt myself.  The pain helped, it brought me back from the brink.  I’m not over exaggerating when I say that self harm very literally saved my life that day.  It’s kept me from going back to that place ever since.

Its not something that I ever wanted to do, it’s not something that I want to carry on doing, but it’s something that I need in ways I can’t even begin to describe.

For everyone out there that is going through the same, for everyone that feels they need to hurt themselves to survive, do what you need to do to keep on living.  All that I ask is that you’re safe about it.  I never use a blade, I don’t want to accidentally go too far and I don’t want scars.  Please, please be careful.

For those that don’t self harm and don’t understand it.  Don’t condemn those that do it.  It’s not something they want to do, it’s something that they need.  Don’t judge or tell them to stop.  Offer them a shoulder if they need it, but understand that that wont stop them from hurting themselves.  Be there for them when they need someone, even if it’s just to hold them as they cry.

Self harm is something people don’t like to talk about, but it’s something that can’t be ignored.  If you know someone that self harms then go out of your way to tell them how special they are to you, how brilliant a person they are.  Do little things to make them smile and laugh.  Do whatever you can for them, but never judge them.

Amy.

I’m on twitter @Amazing_Amy_W, I use Tumblr, blog at Trans Girl Writer and check me out on Facebook too!

Amy is a journalist and editor contributing the websites Planet Transgender, Gay News Network, The Bottle Episode, The Retro Box and Claire Channel. Amy is also a published comic book writer and letterer.

In addition to her writing Amy has also worked with the Centre For Hate Crime Studies in Leicester and has worked in the capacity of an advisor to the United Nations Entity For Gender Equality and The Empowerment of Women.

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