Kitchen Sink

By Mallory Ellington

This piece mentions self-harm and methods of self-harm in detail. Please use your discretion.

I used to hate doing the dishes, especially when I was a kid. But as an adult, I must admit I don’t mind them at all. Dirty dishes are proof that something was created and enjoyed. I love to cook and bake, and dirty dishes showcase that I spent time doing something I love, doing something that brings me joy.  In a way, I am grateful for dirty dishes. I stand at my kitchen sink, listening to a podcast or playlist, and clean up after a delicious meal or a week’s worth of meal prepping, deeply satisfied by what I have created and accomplished. And, it’s a nice break from doing school work—a reminder that there is more to life than reading textbooks and writing papers.

But there are moments when standing in front of that kitchen sink is hard. Sometimes as I clean the cutlery, thoughts creep into my head.

“Just this once. One more time isn’t that bad. Just hurt yourself one more time, it’ll be okay. Won’t it make you feel better? It’s what you want.”

When those moments come, I freeze, clenching the dish scrubber, holding my breath, fighting off the urges. Some days I really do want to go back. Some days those taunts are incredibly tempting. I think about how easy it would be to do it “just this once,” even while knowing in my heart that it wouldn’t be “just this once.”

This coming August marks eight years since I last self-injured. In a way, it feels like that time has flown by. But there have been some truly dark and trying days, weeks, and months within those eight years, too.

My freshman year of college I collected every sharp object I owned and handed them over to my best friend because I didn’t think I could trust myself. My senior year of college I wrapped tape around my scissors, making it impossible to open them without a great deal of effort. Before my final round of class registration, I found myself crying in my advisor’s office worried that if I continued in my minor that the stress and anxiety would lead me to harm myself again. Then, during that awkward transition year following college, I fell back into old thought patterns and reached out to friends asking them to pray for me because I wasn’t sure I could fight it this time. No matter the stage of life, no matter what I was doing, no matter how long I had refrained from self-harm, the thoughts followed me.

Now I’m in seminary. A place where I should easily find Jesus, see the work of the Spirit in my life. A place I should know peace, a place where no dark thoughts should come to mind. And I have seen Jesus more clearly than I have in a long time. I have felt a deep love shift in my heart. But then I find myself standing in front of my kitchen sink, washing dishes, and am reminded that I am still struggling, still hurting. And that’s OK. I do not have to have everything figured out, I do not have to have all my pain resolved and struggles conquered. I am not ashamed to say that I sometimes have to stop washing the dishes and separate myself until the thoughts subside.

I am a human. Life is challenging. And the ways I once used to cope are and may always be tempting. But I also have hope. Hope for tomorrow, for better days. For the reasons to keep fighting. For the reasons to value and respect my body. For the conversations to be had over coffee and the nights waiting to be filled with laughter.

Maybe you’re like me, wondering if the temptation to harm yourself will ever go away. If I’m being honest, I really wish it would. Life would be easier if I didn’t have to fight myself. But knowing that I’m not alone, that you’re not alone, does make this life a little easier.

So we walk away from the dishes, we close the textbooks, we step back and take a deep breath or call a friend, because we’re doing the best we can. And that’s enough.

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Comments (17)

  1. Allie

    This is amazing. Iwas 2 months clean from self harm but I have given in to the thoughts. I have tried my hardest to keep them away but it kind of just takes over my mind and I cant think of anything else or do anything else besides think about how I would feel if I did it just once more. If I did it once more I would feel so much better and I wouldnt do it again. But its never like that. that same thought comes again and again and when I finally give in to it, I know that soon enough it will happen again.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hi Allie,

      We understand how difficult it can be to hear those thoughts so often. But we hope you know that you’re not alone in your struggles. You are strong and capable, and your challenges with self-harm do not in any way change that.

      Would you email our team at so we can know more about you and send you some support?

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  2. Carissa Regan

    thankyou for sharing, that was very powerful and strong of you to openly talk about this and you definitely had to step out of your comfort zone. this has a very big impact on me because my whole family has been through this but again i just want to thank you!

    Reply  |  
  3. Roxanne

    Wow, thank you. I really needed this. I am in such a good place in my life, possibly never happier and still, after not self harming for five years, I find myself wanting to do it ‘just one more time’. Thought something is wrong with me. ‘People my age don’t selfharm’ I tell myself, making myself think I am crazy. It is so good to know I am not alone with this struggle, even though it makes me sad that there are other people having to fight themselves too. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but thank you so much for sharing so bravely.

    Reply  |  
  4. Courtney

    Thank you for sharing this moving piece, Mallory. I’ll be praying for you. You are not, and will never be, alone in your struggles and hurts. Keep taking steps forward.

    Reply  |  
  5. Sarah

    thank you so dearly for this.

    Reply  |  

    Yesterday for the first time. There I was at work in a dark spiral, trying to use the pain to pull out of the tailspin, and I was craving it like I used to crave a cigarette or alcohol. Terrifying. Locked myself in the bathroom and called someone who’s seen all my crazy. Better today, but worried.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hi Willa,

      We are so sorry to hear that you experienced that frightening urge to self-harm. But know that it happens to others as well and you are not alone in this struggle.

      We’re truly glad that you were able to remove yourself from the situation as best you could and reach out to a friend that you trust with your mental health. If you are ever in need of encouragement, support, or resources, please know that you can reach out to our team at We will respond as soon as we can!

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  7. L

    Thank you. I wonder too if the temptation will ever go away completely. It’s hard to remember that it is a battle that is continuously fought; some days easy, most days average, and some days downright awful. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply  |  
  8. Jennifer

    Everyday the call is so strong. So far I have been stronger than the call. I worry though that one of these moments I will not be strong enough. She is so enticing, just one small bit of relief. I long for that relief. That ‘one more time’. So far just over 6 months clean and before that almost 5 years! I know it can be done. I also know that the struggle, the urge, the desire for it never goes away. Thank you and Be strong.

    Reply  |  
  9. Kassidy

    This is so good. I had just beaten my personal best of staying clean from self harm, 27 days, but then i relapsed again, and again..and again. I feel like this is a never-ending cycle that is impossible to escape. I’m scared that I will fall back into self-harming daily, even though I’m trying so hard not to. Summer is coming, and I have no idea how I’m going to face it with this secret I carry.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA


      27 days is incredible! We hope you are proud of yourself, and we hope you also show yourself grace when you find yourself navigating the days when you are faced with relapse. It’s OK to struggle, it’s OK to relapse. Recovery is rarely linear.

      If you would like to, you’re welcome to email our team at We would like to hear your story and email you back with some support and encouragement so that you don’t have to go through this alone.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  10. Adrianna

    I truly admire you for the strength you put forth in sharing such a personal struggle with others. Much love

    Reply  |  
  11. Heidi

    Thanks for writing this. I don’t struggle with self harm per se. I can’t say I haven’t been tempted to do it, but I know better. I do struggle with depression and it sucks that it won’t ever go away. I’m okay with that most days. But there are days when I’m like, ugh can’t I just not have depression? It’s not realistic but it’s human and what you’ve felt I’ve felt. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this fight called life.

    Reply  |  
  12. Meredith

    Thank you for sharing this. It has been almost a month since the last time I self harmed but the temptations are always in the back of my mind too. I am hopeful that the last time I cut will remain the last time, but as you know its a tough battle to fight. Knowing that I am not the only one who cant seem to shake the thoughts and desire for “just once more” makes me feel better. Thank you again for sharing!

    Reply  |  
  13. Margaret

    please pray for me it feels like if i had the strenth and support i could overcome but i have neither
    God seems so far but i know he must be so close
    pray i find support and strenth to rebuild my life emotionaly and spiritually

    Reply  |  
  14. Sarah

    Thank you

    Reply  |  
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