A friend of mine is doing a survey to determine how well students are being helped at school when they struggle with automutilation, also knows as selfharm (SH). I find it very important that she is doing this. The results will serve as a guide to write a protocol for schools on how to act when they find a student in such a situation. Right now there are no guidelines what so ever for this. As a result precious time is lost in helping these children. Depression in teens is much more common then we would like to admit and a very serious problem. Selfharm is not about getting attention. It's about survival. It's a way to deal with the struggles and pain that otherwise become too great to handle. Most of the time parents don't have a clue or are part of the problem. When parents fail to protect their children it's time for the community to step in and take action. Since most children spend most of their time at school it makes sense for teachers to notice the signs and respond to them. Most teachers don't know what they should be looking for though. And if they do notice something is wrong, they don't know how to respond. So they leave the kid alone and hope it's just a phase and it will pass. For some it does pass. For others it ends in suicide. But the majority is left to struggle on for years and years, perhaps the rest of their lives. The sooner they can get help, the sooner things will get better and the greater the odds are they will be able to be happy some day. So if you have struggled with self harm during school and live in the Netherlands, please fill out the survey. If you know someone who did, pass it on. A lot of children out there need our help.
I filled out the survey as well. I started selfharming when I was about 12 I think. I'm not entirely sure. It was a strange time. No one noticed. I would cut my upper arms at first. I would wear a short sleeved shirt at gym class so I'm pretty sure someone saw. But nobody said anything. Not in school, not at home, not anywhere. My sister once asked if I could stop banging my head against the wall in the middle of the night because it would wake her up. But that's all. My eating disorder grew worse and worse. So did my drinking, which I started when I was 8, believe it or not. And when I was 15 I started doing drugs. Just weed at first, but that's where we all start, isn't it?
I finally managed to quite when I was 29. The cutting, the drinking, everything. And now I am healthy and fit. But I still feel sad a lot of the time. I still feel lonely, unloved and unlovable like I did growing up. I still have days when I get the urge to get out a knife and rip myself to pieces. I don't think that will ever completely go away. But I keep on fighting. I keep on going. I keep on surviving. And I'm still here.
I don't know what would have happened if someone would have noticed what was really going on sooner. My parents did send me to a psychiatrist at some point and told me I could stop going there if my grades improved. My grades did improve and I could stop going. But I only felt worse. It's not just about grades and how things look on the surface. If they had spend a bit more time noticing me, maybe they would have seen what was happening. Maybe I would not feel so lonely today.