I Used To Self-Harm And It Is NOT Selfish!

I used to self-harm.

I hated myself. I hated my life. I was convinced the world would be better off without me.

Self-harm: why I did it

I wasn’t abused. I wasn’t bullied. I never suffered a major tragedy. And yet, aged 20, I was consumed by suicidal thoughts.

Slitting wrists, paracetamol, jumping out of windows, dropping things on my head – I tried it all. Sometimes I wanted to kill myself, but most of the time, the self-harm was to show everyone how deeply sorry I was for just being me.

I was ashamed of the depression I felt. The guilt flooded me to the core – I was bringing everyone else down. They must wish I’d leave them alone. I ruin everyone else’s lives. I’m a burden on those I care about.

The word “sorry” just couldn’t convey the intensity of hatred that I had for myself. I wanted people to know that I knew I deserved this hideous punishment. I thought that bleeding, raw wrists would show people that I knew what a disgusting, selfish, worthless person I was.

I wanted to show them that I was sorry.

I used to self-harm and it's not selfish - woman crying on bed

Photo by Asdrubal Iuna on Unsplash

Mental health

I had a happy childhood. We were a family that thoroughly enjoyed each others company. My mum and dad lavished us with love. I was an academic star and I was popular with my classmates.

And yet it happened to me.

Because depression doesn’t care who you are. It strikes, and it poisons you. You lose the ability to think rationally.

All those friends and A* grades count for nothing when your mind is set against you. Your mind is where your beliefs are filed – if your mind says you are worthless or that your situation is hopeless, you wholeheartedly believe it.

It is a terrifying thought that your mind can become ill; that you can’t trust your own thoughts and judgement. There is no getting away from it – it is all-consuming.

Sometimes it can last half an hour and suddenly you’re mind clears. Sometimes it can last for hours… days… weeks…

It comes and it goes as it pleases – you are powerless. You are a slave to its lies.

You self-harm because that is the only answer you have. It is the rational conclusion to the lie you now believe…

…And then the feeling leaves… and you are exhausted from the intensity of the emotion. You collapse in a heap and sob because you can’t see a way out. This illness is defeating you.

The future seems impossible to face. You can’t go on living like this… And you self-harm again.

I used to self-harm and it's not selfish - man crying on a bus

Photo by Lily Lvnatikk on Unsplash

Why I chose to share my story

That was a decade ago. I had tablets. I had counselling. The journey was long (6 years) with many peaks and troughs.

But I wanted to share this with you because I want you to know what it’s like.

A person with true depression isn’t doing it to get your attention – they genuinely believe what they are saying. They cannot see a way out. They can’t think logically. It may seem completely irrational to you, on the outside looking in, but to them, it is real. That is what their brain is telling them. They are not saying things for effect – they are spilling the lies to you that their brain is producing.

I want you to know that depression can affect anyone. I don’t want to scare you, but rather make you aware so that you can look for the signs and intervene early.

I want you to stop judging people who struggle with their mental health. It is not their fault. They hate it as much as (a million times more than) you do. Please be patient. They need reassurance that you love them, not the line that they are being ridiculous. And they need that reassurance over and over and over again, for as long as it takes.

But also, I want you to know that depression, even severe depression, is not a life sentence. The longer I was depressed, the more I began to believe that I would never beat it.

But I did.

I began to learn that there were things I could do to help myself. It will be different for different people. I needed to go out for a walk when the feelings started – I needed a change of scenery so that my mind could focus on something else. I also learnt to nip it in the bud – don’t allow the feelings to take hold. Shut down that thought before it had time to seep down deep.


Do you have any experience of mental health issues? What helped you? Have you supported someone else on their mental health journey? Have you ever been told your were selfish for struggling with self-harm or other mental health difficulties? Let’s talk about mental health and support each other.


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Self-Harm Is Not Selfish - self-harm recovery is possible and you are not to blame. Mental health issues are complex - you cannot just snap out of it and you are not doing it for attention. I know because I've been there - here is my story.


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  1. 1

    Hi, thank you for highlighting this topic is such a personal post. Depression can indeed affect anyone and have a massive impact on an individual and their loved ones life. I’m sure that this post will help others who may be experiencing this to think about seeking support #TriumphantTales

  2. 3

    Hidden illnesses are so hard to deal with as people don’t always get it and are so quick to judge. Tweeted to get this out there and, hopefully in the hands of someone it will help. Knowing it’s not just you and there is a way forward is really important. Sending hugs and tea

  3. 4
    Rhyming with Wine

    Lucy this is utterly heartbreaking to read and to think that you’ve been through such a terrible time. I absolutely respect and applaud you for sharing your experience and the fact that you’ve come through it fighting. You’re an inspiration to so many of us that have suffered with our mental health and you’re proof that it can be beaten, and that we need to stop the stigma and misunderstanding around it. Thank you for sharing such a powerful and personal post with #DreamTeam xx

  4. 5

    This is such a heartbreaking read but I am so very proud of you, Lucy, for sharing something so personal with all of us and for raising awareness by doing so. You are seriously an inspiration and should really be proud of yourself xx

  5. 6
    Lisa Pomerantz

    Lucy, this is such an important post. Thank you for being so vulnerable and authentic — we must lose the stigma attached to mental health and, like you said, support each other and empathize. I hear you, <3 xoxo

  6. 7
    Enda Sheppard

    Powerful stuff … you just told it like it is … no need for any embellishments. Scary but ultimately hopeful. Like you indicate, we need to be empathetic, not just sympathetic. And help to steer loved ones in the right direction when they need it. Important to share this

  7. 8

    This is the most powerful and honest blog i have ever read. you are amazing for sharing these deeply held pains and journeys. You are amazing because you are here now to share your story and help others. You are amazing because you are a mum. you are amazing because you are you. #blogcrush

  8. 9
    Lucy Howard

    I cried while reading this. I felt every word because I’ve been there. Cutting. Over doses. Just wanting to destroy myself in every way possible. Thank you for writing this. People need to know that depression is an illness. That it isn’t for attention. Or to rebel. Or to be awkward. And it isn’t selfish. But you’re right people also need to know that depression isn’t the end. That there is light at the end of the tunnel. You and I are proof of that. Hugs Lucy xxxx

  9. 10
    Tracey Louise Wright aka Cloud

    This is one of the best posts I’ve read to date on self harm. I also had a good childhood but that isn’t an antedote or deterrent to mental health. I started self harming from around 12 all through school. I had a dormant period when my dad suspected but it was always there. My confidante, who never judged, always waiting to embrace me. Those moments aren’t selfish, they aren’t the equivalent to ‘retail therapy’ they’re simply a desperate grasp to retain control of our spiralling emotions and our lack of rationale

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