Today is Self-Injury Awareness Day (SIAD). As expected most of the mainstream mental health organisations have been out in force on social media. This should be a good a thing, but as usual the almost entirely miss the mark. All of the major charities trotted out the same tired recovery narrative with a sprinkling of inspirational bullshit. Did anyone ever manage to quit self-harm by drawing fucking butterflies? I doubt it.
If I sound frustrated, it’s because I am. These organisations are supposed to be for people like me. They are meant to advocate for me, but they are not remotely interested in what I have to say. When I tell them what I need and want, I am ignored. I have approached numerous organisations both directly & through social media to explain that they do not represent me (or the many people I know who struggle with mental illness). I am always met with silence or a patronising we know best attitude.
I don’t want to hear exclusively about teenage girls when discussing self-harm. It’s a stereotype & it makes it perpetuates a stigma that makes my life harder.
I don’t want to constantly hear tales of people who have recovered. I’m happy they are no longer suffering, but their story is not my story. Some people do not get better. Mental illness is a life long struggle for many people. Where are those voices? This representation of mental health difficulties is not accurate or helpful. It creates a misleading picture for people with no experience in the field. Even more problematic is the message it sends to those of who are still ill. It says our lives have no merit; that we will only be worth talking about when we recover.
I’m sick of the success stories. All those wonderful people who fought & won. The ones achieving amazing things. It just makes me feel a greater failure. I want the truth. Publicise blogs like this one. Tell the world the blood and guts reality of this disease. Let me speak. Give me (& others like me) the opportunity to show people they’re not alone. That the daily (hourly) fight to keep breathing is not that uncommon. Our lives are still have meaning & value even if we never get back to work or publish a book or raise a million pounds for charity.
Stop giving me stupid advice. Writing on my arms cannot replace cutting. Ice and rubber bands are just telling its ok to hurt myself as long as it doesn’t get messy. Having a bath will not stop a war raging in head. Ditto a cup of bloody tea. Lavender doesn’t cure insomnia. Painting my nails will not make me love myself.

Most of all, listen to us. We know best. We wake up to every morning. Our knowledge is hard won. Please use it to help others who are suffering.

13 Responses to “listen…”

  1. It needed to be said. I also feel a total b failure for not being ‘on the road to recovery’, to b stuck in a hole, going round in circles. I want to scream at those positive stories and say it’s not like that for me.

  2. Excellent post, bet none of them ever bother to read it. Ever feel like we’ve been screaming into the same abyss for years?

    I’m sick of the recovery dogma, it does nothing but harm to people like you and me. our voices are not the ones they want to hear.

    Love you


    • doyourememberthattime Says:

      I’m so sick of it too. I’ve been tweeting it at the big charities all morning. Not a single response, but loads of mi folk agreeing.

  3. Thank you so much for this, I completely agree with everything you have said here.

  4. Well said.

    Having said similar things in response to other SH awareness campaigns, have been treated as if I’m being deliberately *difficult*, rather than pointing out the truth as I/we see it.

    Thank you for writing this post, it`s a huge help.


  5. Joanna @maddoggiejo Says:

    thank you, the endless elevation of ‘recovery stories’ looking past any story of enduring difficulties like a homeless person, or vilifying those stories as failure/nothing to learn from cuts to the core of me as I type with one hand with the words of a consultant ringing in my ears. Questioning whether I was worth treating, pointing out that some places won’t treat people like me and would leave us with injuries which would otherwise be operated on leaving us with open gaping injuries which would take the best part of a year to heal. I had to justify why I was worth treating, to receive urgent surgery which wouldn’t be questioned if I had been in a road traffic accident. I was expected to offer “guarantees” that I would never hurt myself again like a naughty child when I am a middle aged woman, with the assumption that I must “tamper” when I never have in 30 years. I know I face the very real prospect of being refused treatment if my path ever crosses with him again and I know what it’s like to have to deal with an open wound long term. I know what it’s like to be refused repair point blank, and I know what it did to my sense of self before. You’ll never see an article on that. You’ll not see an article speaking of staff undoing your clothes to stare and laugh at “the woman who cut her xxxxxx” in resus whilst she was there for something entirely different, or how those scars have the power to deny, denigrate and diagnostic overshadow so that you wait until the peak flow is that much lower before seeking treatment because what if your asthma was seen as self-inflicted. That’s airbrushed out, only recovery stories allowed.

    • doyourememberthattime Says:

      I’m nodding my head like crazy as read this comment. Just yes,yes,yes. No one gets to hear this stuff. No one knows that these things happen to us. Or that they reinforce our worst feelings about ourself. The recovery narrative makes it worse because these already hostile people think just stop and the constant focus on teen girls cutting makes them think we’re ridiculous.
      Anyway, I’m sorry you’ve had these experiences & I hope someone listens to us. Thanks for reading.

  6. Reblogged this on The Inner Limits and commented:
    A very raw, sometimes painful look at mental illness, from someone who seems to have had, and still is having, a very rough time.

  7. NotSure Says:

    I’m not sure how I came to find your blog, but I find that I identify with a lot of what you write. I wanted to say thanks for this post in particular… it explains something that I would never have been able to put into words or articulate nearly as clearly.

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