Meet twenty three year old Beki from Manchester. At just seventeen she was admitted to hospital for two months due to her mental health issues. Beki suffered with depression and anxiety and used self-harm as a way to cope with her negative thoughts and feelings. She now has a psychology degree, a job, and is a volunteer youth worker, giving back to young people. Inspirational? Heck yeah…I caught up with her to find out how she managed to turn her life around for the better.
LJ: Where did your negative beliefs about yourself come from?
“I was bullied throughout primary and secondary school as well as having a difficult relationship with my dad. I started self-harming when I was just twelve years old. My parents split up and I discovered all kinds of secrets that were hard for me to deal with. All of these things that happened to me made me feel depressed and anxious. I felt unlovable, and that I didn’t deserve good things to happen. At times when it got really bad, I felt like I shouldn’t be here, that I didn’t deserve to live.”
Can you tell us why you chose self-harm as a coping mechanism? What did it do for you?
“One of my negative beliefs was that I wasted peoples time by simply existing. It was easier for me to hurt myself than to let other people hurt me. Self-harming for me became a punishment, an assault on myself, and I became addicted to feeling the pain. Every time I hurt myself it was a kind of release, a defence mechanism. I wrongly believed that if I hurt myself then nobody else would be able to hurt me.”
LJ: You’ve been self harm free for nearly nine months now, that is so brilliant! Can you tell us what strategies and things you have used in order to get this far? How have you redirected your feelings?
– “Being honest with my GP has really helped. I’m now on some anti-depressants and I am having counselling.
– I’ve found a belief and deep trust in God and I believe that He has created me for a purpose. Having purpose, like for me, its youth work, has meant that I now have something to live for. Something to get me out of bed in the mornings.
– Some of the techniques I use when I feel the urge to harm is ‘the butterfly project’ – this is where you or someone you love draws a butterfly on the place where you usually harm, and you name it after someone who wants you to recover. You can’t wash it off, you have to let it fade but if you hurt yourself you essentially kill the butterfly, and therefore you have to wash the butterfly off. Having accountability helps me to push through any urges.
– Temporary tattoos and henna are also another good distraction especially as it takes me ages to choose what to draw on myself!
– Another very powerful one for me is using the object I would normally use to hurt myself on an old towel to see how much damage I do to it. This helps me to realise the damage I am doing to myself and helps to release some angst in the process!
– I also find listening to relaxing music calms me down.
– Last but not least, talking to someone I trust really helps. Keeping things bottled up never does me any good!”
LJ: What do you hope your story will do for people who are reading right now?
“I hope that my story will encourage people that there is hope and to never be ashamed of how you are feeling or deny yourself help. There is no shame in asking for help, only strength. Asking for help and being honest about your struggles is so much more freeing. Believe me I know! When I was sectioned I thought I would be in hospitals for the rest of my life. Now I have a Psychology degree and as someone with a faith in God, I now feel I’m living my life the way He intended! I now believe life is worth living, although when you’re in the depths of the darkness depression it doesn’t feel like it. Recovery is wonderful and you are worthy of a life worth living. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t easy and sometimes the decision not to hurt myself is something I have to choose several times a day. I believe in each and every one of you and I hope that if you are struggling, you can find the confidence to reach out and get some help.”
LJ: I am one hundred percent cheering you on Beki. Thanks so much for being brave enough to share your story with me/us so openly. I always give my interviewees a chance to remain anonymous but Beki was happy to be vulnerable and courageous. Thank you again.
“If my story encourages just one person to believe in themselves and get the help they are worthy of, then everything I have been through will have all been worthwhile! I am living proof that there is hope.”
LJ: If you find this blog post helpful, why not give it a share, and, or click ‘get involved’ and leave a comment for Beki.
If you are a self-harmer, or a parent or guardian of a self-harmer, why not check out the Self-Harm page right here on this site for further help and info.