Friday, March 1, 2013

Self-Injury Awareness: My Story

On Facebook, I get updates from the To Write Love on Her Arms page. Today is Self-Injury Awareness day.  I didn't know there was such a day, but I'm glad there is. It makes me feel like as we go forward, less people will be alone in their struggles.

I was a burner throughout my junior and senior years of college.  I had this whole belief system about it in my mind which went like this: yeah things suck, crap happens in life and it hurts, but if you can take the pain of a burn then this external pain is nothing. No one is going to hurt you as much as this burn will.  You see, when you get a burn, it hurts initially- the burning part.  Then it goes numb.  Then it starts hurting all over again, a throbbing constant pain- the healing part.

I felt a sense of relief and control after adding a new burn to my wrist.  It was something that I made happen... which was a big thing when I felt like everything else was out of control.  I wore a ribbon around my wrist so people wouldn't ask about my 'collection.'  Most people assumed it was a fashion statement.

Me circa... umm... 2006ish

I would take an x-acto knife and hold it over a candle or lighter, then hold the blade on my wrist until I couldn't feel it anymore. Eventually, I collected two neat rows of burn lines.  I also used incense sticks by pressing the red tip into the skin next each of the lines.  The scars became some sort of reminder- a "you can do this" nudge everyday.  Every time I looked down.  Healthy? No. Do I understand it? Kind of.

Most of the scarring has faded as they're over 5 years old, but if you look to the bottom left of my tattoo, you can see some of the remaining incense burns and along the center line of my tattoo is the worst of the scars.

I decided to tattoo the Wawa Aba Adinkra symbol over that particular scar as a testament to the whole ordeal.  The depression, the burning, and coming out of it. The Wawa Aba is a symbol for a person who perseveres through hardships.  I wanted to be able to see that encouragement instead of the reminders of that low.

Even now, when I find myself getting really down, I'll still get the urge to pull out a lighter and 'control' something.  Most times higher thought wins and my lighters stay where they should.  I'd love to be able to say that I never burned again, but that's not true.  But I can say that I've only done it a couple minor times since stopping in 2008. Hurray for me :)

So yeah, that's my self-injury story... It felt good to share.  I think the biggest thing that can help others struggling with depression and it's "coping" mechanisms is showing them that you're there.  Maybe they need someone to listen to them rant or just sit and play a video game.  Maybe they need someone to insist they come shopping or come do anything.  Depression has a way of swallowing a person up and blinding them to reality.  It sucks the colors from everything and the pleasure from everything.  It's a beast and sometimes we can get caught by it in the worst way.

You might know someone dealing with something like this.  Even if you're not sure what the case is, being a true friend is strong medicine no matter what.

The most powerful statement for a person to hear (at least for me) is:  
I see you and you're not alone.

Peace ^.^ Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. wow. thank you for sharing. I can't even imagine how vulnerable you must feel. And how strong! because you overcame :D

    I think you might appreciate the lyrics of this song -

  2. I love you so much Cali and I'm so grateful that God was able to hold you up through those times before I met you. And Thank you so much for that song Shakti, I really appreciated it. I think you've given me a new band to check out.

    1. I just found them myself and I really, really enjoy them. I hope you do as well!

  3. This is very powerful and edifying. Thank you for this post!

    - Anna

  4. Your vulnerability is amazingly beautiful. Praying blessings on you, in big ways. Hugs.

  5. Girl, I never would have guessed. So great of you to share your story. It could help lots of other people going through the same thing. Awareness is key. People going through this need to know they are not alone, and everyone else needs to be aware so that they can help.

  6. Wow, Caleisha. I knew you in college during those times and I would have never guessed. Praise God for giving you victory over your struggles! The best is yet to come. :)

    1. Thanks hon :) I'm trying to put a face to your name, but I'm having a stupid hard time (rolls eyes). Unfortunately, there are a lot of details that I don't remember from college, but yeah. Shoot me an email and let me know who you are ^.^


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