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Self-Injury

Isabel Story: Thoughts of Self-harm, Age: 19

So they sent me to a group home. Being there really saved my life.

How did it all start? When did you first start experiencing symptoms or using?

I think it was probably around 7th grade. I was just really tired all the time; I would cry a lot, that’s when I started cutting myself, like self-injury. I had a hard time really regulating my emotions, I felt really alone. I was depressed, really.

What kind of help did you get at first? Did it work?

I know it took me a couple months before I told anybody how I was feeling. Beginning of 7th grade I started feeling like that, and then it took me about a year to get into actual therapy, besides a school counselor. And then after that I had a therapist in 8th grade at the community center. I remember seeing a school counselor in 8th grade, and when I confided in her that I was self-harming, she immediately told my parents. At the time it felt like a betrayal of trust. I just remember that created a lot of turmoil at home. That was one of my first experiences with help. It was just a bad experience.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

I was hospitalized twice sophomore year. This was where my story turns around. It sucks that it took that long for me to finally feel better, but I appreciate my struggle at this point. I went to the hospital and I was there for like 2 weeks, which is pretty long because the hospital sucks, but it was so necessary. It was the most necessary thing I’ve ever done. And my parents, when I was about to be discharged, they told me “we don’t want you home. It’s not safe for you to be at home right now. We’re very angry with you and we’re sure you’re very angry with us.” It was just a very, very bad relationship, nothing was really working. So they sent me to a group home. I was there from June 2012 to January 2013. Being there really saved my life.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

I’ve been home for a year now. Half of my struggle is my behavior and my thought processes, but the chemical piece is fixed.

Yeah, I get sad, and yeah my sads are more extreme than some people’s, but I don’t get to where I want to kill myself when something bad happens. I’ve rebuilt my relationship with my parents, and I’m applying for colleges and I got into six. My life is completely turned around.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier?

You need to talk. You need to take the first step and be courageous enough to ask for help, because that is the most courageous thing you can do and it’s the best thing you can do for yourself. Talk about how you’re feeling and ask to see someone. Ask to go on medication, if that’s what you want, and ask to go to group therapy, if that’s what you want. People just want to pretend that they feel fine and maybe it’ll go away, but it won’t. It will just bubble up at inconvenient times.