Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about self harm, suicide, mental illness and me- and no, I won’t be using that as the title of some depressing memoir- I’ve been thinking about my identity in relation to all those things and how they make me feel.
I can’t sit here and say that those things will always define me- but right now they are a part of my identity whether I like it or not. However, they don’t have to dominate who I am or how I act. I’m starting to get to a point in my life where I’m not the mental girl- I improved a hell of a lot last year but it’s been the start of this school year where I’ve really shaken off any last residual bits and started to forge an identity for myself that doesn’t include being crazy.
Right now I’m Juliet, I’m a chatty, friendly, ridiculously confident girl who looks like she’s been transported from the 1940s, I’m honestly everything that I ever wanted to be.
It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world- and honestly, for the first time in my life it doesn’t feel like I’m pretending to be something that I’m not whilst leaning against the closet to prevent various skeletons from falling out.
The main thing that’s been playing on my mind is self harm- when can you classify yourself as an EX cutter? When can you say that you’ve moved on? That you’ve quit? Is is when you actively say you will never cut again? Or is it when you’ve not self harmed for a month? Or a week?
We all know that there really aren’t any answers to those questions- personally, I remember thinking that there would never be a day when I’d be calling myself an ‘ex’ self harmer- I thought I’d always be a cutter, even if I wasn’t hurting myself anymore.
Part of me saw it- and still sees it- like losing your virginity. Once you’ve made that firs cut you can never go back, you will always be a cutter. To a large extent I still think that, I think it’s too momentous a thing to walk away from, it changes you as a person no matter who you are or how much you try and fight it it’ll always change you.
The other day something really weird happened to me, I was talking to myself (pretty normal for me) and I referred to myself as an ‘ex self-harmer’… the moment passed without murmur and it was only later on that day that I realised what I’d said.
I haven’t self harmed since June. I’ve wanted to, especially recently, but generally the feeling hasn’t been there. This is something that I’ve tried not to think about too much, self harm was a way that I defined myself for a long time and for ages the idea of losing my identity as a cutter was a terrifying one.
However, as time has passed my thoughts on the subject have changed.
I’m incredibly fond of the guys that I act with, they’re all lovely and ridiculous and hilarious and they make my life so much more interesting. Recently their drama class has been doing a play called 4.48 Psychosis- the play deals with depression, self harm and suicide. This was told to me gleefully by Jay, who is obsessed with being able to act such ‘gory’ material. She wants me to read it with her, to listen to her describing how they will do the cutting scenes…
I went home and cried like a baby- I haven’t done that since I had to label ‘abnormal’ and ‘normal’ people (that’s mentally ill and mentally healthy people respectively) for my psych homework- it makes me feel sick that people I care about will be reading and dissecting a play on a topic that is so, so personal to me. I can’t tell them- I can never tell anyone in that class about my mental illness, about my cutting and my suicide attempts. I can’t tell those people that I care about and respect because their experience of mental illness will be that play- I’m not saying it’s a bad play, at least it’s honest and raw- I’m just saying that it’ll be difficult and uncomfortable for me to do.
Self harm will always be a part of my life, but for now it’ll be a very minor part- I think it might just be easier at the moment to take a breath and move on little by little, rather than thinking too deeply.
One day I’ll work out what I am and where I stand. For now I’m just Wren, an actress.
’til next time,