by Dana Dominguez |
We tell our stories for different reasons. Some people share theirs to bring awareness to those uninformed. Others use it to reassure those struggling that things get better. There are even those who do it for themselves as a form of open and honest healing.
I don’t know why I originally agreed to write this. Maybe because I’ve told it before and felt like I could do it again. Yet no matter how many times I write, how many times I re-tell it, it doesn’t get any easier. We can’t take back our stories once they are out there for the world to read. It’s a terrifying feeling and it caused me to struggle while writing this.
I was trying to make my story into something it’s not: perfect.
I grew angry at myself and at my story for not fitting together like I wanted. I was being unfair; this isn’t something I can change just because I want to. This is a part of me. It’s the reason for the person I am today, and I love that person.
So here is my story: It begins in my sophomore year of high school. I remember feeling a loneliness that made me believe I didn’t belong anywhere and was never meant to. I believed I couldn’t do anything right and sought something I could control.
There are many reasons people turn to self-harm. Some do it to escape from their feelings, others to express their pain. I was a sophomore the first time I picked up a blade to hurt myself. Afterward, a panic took over and left me crying for hours. I was ashamed that I could do such a thing to myself. Despite that, I continued. I used it for just about everything—from escape to punishment—because I thought it helped. Sometimes it was to make the pain I was feeling real, and other times because I felt like I didn’t deserve to be alive. When I started I foolishly believed I didn’t need help, that I could stop at any time, but I was wrong. Self-harm is an addiction, and I’m unsure if most people I tell my story to understands this.
I never asked for help. That’s something that I found shame in when writing this. The first time I went to therapy was because my parents sent me. After three years they had found out what I was doing. I stopped for them. When my mother said she should have noticed earlier and my father felt like he was to blame, I realized it was no longer something I did to just to myself, but also to the people around me.
I eventually realized that I couldn’t stop for others no matter how much I tried. My recovery is for me and me alone. It took me a while, but once I realized that, I felt like I deserved the help I was receiving.
I have been in recovery for nearly three years, yet there are still days when self-harm is the first thing to pop into my mind when I begin to feel overwhelmed. Instead of acting on old instincts, I treat myself with the compassion and love that I neglected to give myself for years. Sometimes, I’m still begging myself for forgiveness.
I tell my story because it matters, just like the story you carry matters.
I hope one day when you’re ready to tell your story you remember this: it’s not supposed to be pretty or perfect. Be kind with your story; let it be raw and honest. And when you tell it, I hope you feel a vulnerability that lets others know they can do the same.
Dana Dominguez is a junior nursing major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dana is a member of Active Minds, a group on campus dedicated to educating our community about mental health and demonstrating that people are not alone in their mental health struggles. We all struggle. Let’s struggle together.
Mental Health Resources:
UP Health and Counseling Center: 503-943-7134
Multnomah Mental Health Crisis Line: 503-988-4888
Active Minds: email@example.com or Facebook.com/activemindsatup