’I Survived Self-Mutilation’

HERTHA Uushona (21) was a teenager when she started cutting herself. That was five years ago.

Today, Hertha is a transformed person and she relates her story about self-harm and how she finally got help.

Self-harm, also known as self-mutilation is when one hurt themselves intentionally to deal with bad feelings. It is a way of obtaining relief from negative feelings.

Looking back Hertha says she was going through a dark and lonely teenage period where she faced bullying by friends and abuse from family members.

“I had family issues. I could not talk to anyone because my friends bullied me at school. I did not have friends. Those I spoke to about my pain and problems, the teachers, would always ask if it was not me with problems. This really made me very angry and sad. I decided to hurt those people by hurting myself. That is how I started cutting myself,” Hertha said.

Clinical psychologist Joab Mudzanapabwe said people with a history of childhood trauma such as sexual abuse are prone to self-harm.

“People suffering from some mental disorders are at high risk of self-harm. Such disorders among others are borderline personality disorders, depression, autism, bipolar disorder, intellectual disability, substance abuse,” Mudzanapabwe said.

He also added that the prevalence rate for self-harm are almost the same for males and for females.

“The onset can be early teens reaching peak at the age of 20-29 years and then it declines,” he said.

Hertha also said she was a loner and that everybody expected her to be perfect and do as they asked.

“I lived a controlled life. I did not have any hobbies or activities. I was always by myself and that made it easier for me to cut myself and not have to explain to anyone.

Mudzanapabwe noted that the act of self-harm is mostly done when a person is alone.

“Some self-harm may be to indirectly seek attention or to manipulate others emotionally,” he said.

Hertha says when she turned 17 she met someone whom she thought she loved and trusted.

“We started going out and I told him about my childhood and how I was abused growing up. As the months went by, he started abusing me verbally and emotionally until it turned into physical abuse,” she said.

Hertha said she reached breaking point as a result that cutting herself did not make her feel better about herself.

“I could not cope anymore and thought why can I not take my own life because I was not loved and people took aantage of my vulnerability. I later thought it was fine to be in an abusive relationship.

Hertha said she reached the turning point when she was introduced to her psychologist, and says she finally had someone to talk to and who understood her.

“My psychologist made me understand that I should analyse everything that is said or done to me first. I consider myself very lucky because I am recovering from hating everything I do or say and I am starting to love and appreciate myself,” Hertha said.

She also said that when someone says or does something bad to her, she first asks herself four questions: Is it true? Is it really true? Who will I be with this thought? And lastly, who will I be without this thought.

She aises whoever is going through self-harm tendencies to read a book by Byron Katie entitled ‘Question Your Thinking, Change The World.

Source : The Namibian