Self-harm blog week: “You’re not alone”

The Mix Staff
Rachel Welch

All this week YouthNet are sharing a series of blogs by young people and professionals with experience of self-harm in the lead up to Self-Harm Awareness Day (1st March 2014).

Here, Rachel Welch, Programme Director for shares her insights and experiences.

Being asked to give some thoughts on self-harm got me thinking. That might sound weird given it’s essentially what I do for a living, but I wanted to do this justice and figure out what it is I want you to hear. One of the most common cries I hear is that there is no one to tell, no one will listen, no one will ever understand.

So here’s my message: Struggling with self-harm makes you no different to anyone else. You are not alone.

And here’s why.

As a society we seem to spend our time trying to tread a fine line between being an individual, while at the same still fitting in with those around us. You are expected to conform at home or at school and blend in to the community at a time of life when you’re actually trying to figure out who you are and what makes you unique. We become people pleasers by building up a wall that stops others from getting too close to us and discovering who we really are underneath.

In the midst of self-harm it is magnified a hundred times over, because on the one hand we find ourselves trying to satisfy difficult urges and uncomfortable emotions, while pretending to those around us that there’s nothing wrong. What’s happening on the inside is often so very different to what we let people see on the outside. It’s hard work, it’s painful and it can be incredibly lonely. We sit behind man-made barriers that tell us there is no one to tell, no one to listen and no one to understand.

Of course, what we forget is that while we’re frantically trying to juggle ‘normal life’ with the struggles of self-harm, everyone else is doing the same thing with their own issues.  Your best mate might not struggle with self-harm, but he or she will still have anxieties and fears that they’d rather not let you or anyone else see. Your mum, your dad, your teacher, the girl on the bus, the guy with the quirky haircut… they all have their own barriers propped around them reminding them to be themselves… but not too much.

Self-harm doesn’t actually make you any different to anyone else. The thing you hold inside, scared of revealing to others might be a different shape to the next person, but we are all balancing on the same see-saw. Maybe if we take a risk, throw caution to the wind and knocked down the barriers we might become a less lonely society of people.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Jim Morrison from The Doors…

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”

Our thanks to Rachel from for sharing her insights. is a safe, pro-recovery website that supports young people who self-harm. It also offers training for parents, carers and professionals equipping them to handle disclosure and provide effective support.

Self-harm Awareness Day (1 March) is a global awareness day aimed at breaking down some of the myths and stereotypes around self-harm and raising awareness about the support available to people. This is the fourth year that The Mix, ChildLine and YoungMinds have come together to ensure young people experiencing self-harm have access to information, support and advice whenever and wherever they need it.

Follow #selfharmawarenessday on 1 March.




Published on 26-Feb-2014