by Jean Howell
I didn’t feel ready to grow up and leave school at 16 and was too embarrassed to talk about it with anyone. In my family we didn’t share our problems. I ended up taking on my Saturday job in retail – a job I didn’t like – full-time because I didn’t know what else to do. I was diagnosed with depression by my GP at the age of 22, following the death of my father from lung cancer. The way my family dealt with it was to not mention him again after the funeral.
My self-harm started so long ago that I can’t remember when I did it for the first time. I feel relief when I physically harm myself, using my fists to punch myself, slap myself on the head and pull my hair. I have bruised myself badly, turning areas of my body black and blue, but only in places that can be covered up with clothing and hidden away. I have broken objects around the home out of sheer frustration and blamed doors for slamming in the breeze. I have broken items where things “just slipped out of my hand”.
Over time I have learned to recognise my trigger points. Frustration and anger boil up inside me when I can’t reach out and talk about my feelings. I feel the need always to be in control – and if I am not I get angry with myself. Trigger points can be taking on too much with full-time work and doing chores at home in the evening, and blaming myself when I get rejections for job interviews.
I am learning to talk about my feelings so they don’t get bottled up. I read self-help books and watch videos online to manage my depression. I’ve learned to think positively as much as possible, and stay present in the moment. I do yoga and meditation to help me stay calm and relaxed and in touch with my own feelings. I found this meditation recently, and find it really helpful. And I find that crafting helps to relax my mind and focus only on what’s in front of me. I like the way giving to others makes me feel – and I value the time spent focusing on one small thing at a time.