Coping Without Sharp Objects

By Abigail CampbellNovember 8, 2022

This piece talks about self-injury in detail. Please use your discretion. 

I always knew grief to be that of losing a family member. That is, I always thought loss to be the definition of grief. I never thought I would feel grief after trying to find myself beyond self-harming, wishing I could continue.

When my parents found out, they gave me two options: stop or go to a mental hospital.

I stopped.

It resembled recovering from an addiction that had become a consistent part of my daily schedule. I didn’t know how to stop at first. When I was stressed, it was easier to take it out on myself versus working through it. I experienced grief, and sorrow even, for not being able to resort to self-harm anymore. I was a child. Only 15.

No matter how much the little voice in my head begged and pleaded for me to pick up the sharp object again I had to tell myself no. I have to cope. I have to cope. I have to cope. These words repeated in my head over and over and over. I feared I would be sent away. The freak who would self-harm to get through her problems.

I had to convince myself I was never a freak. I was 15 and did not know how to cope. Up until this point, I thought I had been coping with the sharp edges taken to my wrist and thighs. I was scared to even touch something sharp for fear of relapsing.

Eventually, I learned to cope differently. I would listen to the sounds of the woods behind my home. I would scream and cry and show my emotions rather than take them out on my skin. That was the first step. I still longed for what I thought was the “easy way out.” I would ask myself, “Why do you feel grief after giving up self-harm?” or “Why do you feel grief after no longer hurting yourself?” My therapist said it was my reaction to losing a part of my life that I had become accustomed to. I would nod and agree, but I never really understood. I was a child. Only 15.

Today, I still listen to the summer sounds of the cicadas in the trees or watch the snow fall from the windows when life gets to be too much. I talk without screaming my feelings into oblivion. Perfection is something I had strived for but never had I expected for my scars to be included in my definition of self-perfection. Although many of my scars have faded and the sharp objects in my shower are now simply razors for shaving, I know it’s okay to be depressed or anxious.

It’s okay to have to cope with life. It’s okay to go to therapy. It’s okay to feel like the world around you is crashing down. It’s okay to use a razor to shave. It’s okay to have to cope with the everyday tasks of life.

It’s okay to have to cope. It’s okay to have to cope. It’s okay to have to cope.

You are worthy of love and grace, from others and yourself. You are enough, here and now. If you’re dealing with self-injury or self-harm, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool to locate professional help and to read more stories like this one here. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected]

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Comments (5)

  1. Jose

    Thank you for sharing. I still have lots of shame from my scars. I believe it’s because of the way my parents would discuss other people they saw with scars. I used to self harm when I was 16 and I’m now 25 and have learned better ways to cope with my mental struggles, however to this day my parents are not aware of my self harm.

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  2. Ginger

    I have a very similar story I still struggle with self harm and consider myself an addict when it comes to it. I’m in recovery and everyday I have the chance to stay on that path. There are days I would prefer to just give into the little voice in my head but I keep battling it.

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  3. K

    I understand your story all too well, on a very personal level. My parents found out about my self harm when I was 14. They took me to the hospital, but at that point it was superficial enough that I managed to convince them to let me go home. All that taught me was to hide it better. The next year, my school called the police after I refused to roll up my sleeves for a science experiment (obviously, they already had a pretty good idea of what was going on – that just tipped the scale). I was taken to the hospital where they kept me for 2 weeks and medicated me for the first time ever. I went home a brand new girl, armed with my handy bottle of Prozac, determined never to fall back into my old ways again. And for awhile, that worked. Until I had emergency brain surgery at the age of 16, and they took me off the antidepressants because of all the other drugs they had to pump into me. It didn’t take me long to start back up again. They tried to put me back on them but nothing works like it used to anymore. So, now, 23 years and at least as many different drugs later (along with numerous therapists & psychiatrists, hospital admissions, residential programs, sun lamps, brainspotting, CBD, CBT, DBT, ECT, etc.) and I’m still at it.

    Sorry to anyone who was hoping for a happy ending… a long time ago, I had hoped there would be one too.

    Congratulations to the people who have shared their stories about getting through it and living in recovery now. As far as I’m concerned though, happily ever after really is just a myth.

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    1. TWLOHA

      Hi K,

      Thank you for finding and having the courage to share your experience. We are so sorry to hear that many of the options you’ve exhausted are not having enough of an impact as they did when you were younger. We do hope you know how encouraged we are by your tireless spirit as you continue seeking help through different avenues of treatment. You deserve healing so very much and to not be burdened by the pain you feel and carry. Please know we’re here ([email protected]) if you ever want to share or if you’re in need of encouragement or a non-judgmental space to talk.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  4. Carmen

    i needed this thank you.

    Reply  |  
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