Stop the silence, it's Time to Talk

It was like a grey cloud that grew as it passed over the last sunny days of my childhood. The anxiety that began to gnaw away at my insides, my tummy aching with the pain of it. The changes of puberty, the bullying that began once looks became more important than test results, fitting in more important than standing out.

But I wanted it all. I craved success, and I needed to be accepted too. Where once I was embarrassingly self confident, I now made endless lists of everything that was wrong with me. And struggled in those pre-internet days to work out solutions. For a year or so, I had no real friends. Gradually that changed and we whispered and chatted and tried to laugh about all the strange things that happen in teen land. To our bodies, to our interests, to our school life. But some things I didn't tell. I don't know why. All I knew was that sometimes I had to do something to stop the overwhelming feelings of panic and sadness, about a social mistake, another bodily change to be tamed somehow, or worst of all, another exam. I would lie awake at night until everyone was asleep, my heart pounding. Then creep downstairs and open the drawer in the kitchen, to do the one thing that I thought would deaden my feelings.


Today it would be called self-harm. Back then I did not know what I was doing. Or what I was feeling. I don't remember mental health being discussed in school or at home or in Jackie Magazine, the teenage Bible of the 70s. I don't remember telling anyone: the nearest I came to revealing it was comparing wrists with a fellow classmate one English lesson. But nothing ever came of that.

The wonder and excitement of College life seemed to cure me of the habit, and maybe no real harm was done.

But it could have been different.

The outcome could have been much, much worse.

Or better, if there had been someone to speak to, someone to listen, someone to help.

And that's the big difference now.

Now we talk about mental health, we talk about prevention, and most of all, we talk about talking.

Stop the silence, it's time to talk.

Written in support of National Time to Talk Day on Friday May 15th and the Green Ribbon Campaign.






12 comments:

  1. Yes, Yes, a THOUSAND TIMES YES. It is time to talk and talk honestly

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  2. Well done for speaking out C. I think there is a real msconception that self-harm is a new thing and it was not done by anyone back in the 70's when we were kids but like you say there was no-one to talk to back then. Mich x

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    1. And you didn't even know that it might be a good idea to talk about it. Things have improved in some ways x

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  3. Hope you are doing much better now. Can't imagine what it was like pre internet when you had no idea why or what it wa syou were doing. When I started self harming I went to the internet to find out why I was doing it and find other coping mechanisms to try stop. Still extremely hard to break the cycle I have to say xx

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    1. Really hope you can break the cycle Yaz xx

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  4. Thank you for sharing this post. I'm so glad that things are changing and that mental health is not so taboo now. X

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    1. It has to be better to be open, doesn't it? x

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  5. Thanks so much for writing this! The other result of no one *ever* talking about this, is that those of us who *didn't* got through it, don't have a clue. When my daughter's teacher first phoned me up to tell me Julie was self harming I thought she was making it up: I'd missed the signs because I didn't know them. When other people find out about Julie's self harm you can tell the ones who have personal experience, because they don't look shocked - or even very surprised.

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  6. I didnn't self harm by cutting but I do know the high one can get from pain. When I was a child I had ecxema and it was quite bad on my limbs at times. Sometimes I would scratch it raw for the high and the release of tension, even though I knew I was doing myself harm. I'd forgotten about it but now I remember. It was not just that it was itchy, it wasn't so itchy as to be unbearable. It was for the pleasure of the scratching.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that, I'm sure there are other similar stories too x

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