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A Beanie on a Summer's Day

An Account of Self-Harm

By Harriet ChristabelPublished 6 years ago 3 min read

If you were to see me now, you may be wondering why I'm wearing a beanie hat and fluffy koala bear slippers indoors when the sky is blue, the sun is shining and it's 19° outside.

The answer is not a simple one. It's related to my self harming tendencies, which are related to my depression, which is related to my anxiety. It feels like a psychological rabbit warren that's all too easy to get lost in.

The beanie and slippers are there to prevent me hurting myself. Without the beanie, I'll rake through my hair with my fingernails, usually to the point where I'll rip bloody chunks away from my scalp. Drawing blood won't make me stop, pain won't make me stop. I can feel the small wounds I've created underneath my beanie. They hurt, but I know that won't discourage me from going back to them if my black mood returns.

Without the koala bear slippers, I'd tear my toenails away as far down as I could get them. Then I'd likely start picking at the skin around my toenails. Again, I'd probably draw blood. I do the same to my fingernails so tomorrow might see me with plasters on my fingertips. I’m often worse with my fingertips as they’re so easy to keep picking at. I’ll peel long strips of skin right away from them, or rip hangnails out. Cutting my nails helps somewhat but the only thing that 100% stops me tearing at myself is my beanie, my slippers, my plasters.

Part of my wonders if it’s due to my low self confidence. My hair and my hands are two of my best features, on good days at least. So why do I insist on disfiguring them with my fingernails? If I’m ugly, I can’t have good features. So I ruin them. I ruin my body with self harm and my psyche with anxiety. I’m a clever girl and I like being that, but my anxiety uses that against me on bad days. You should know better.

I never thought that my mental health would get this bad. My brain is screaming at me to stop hurting myself like this, to do something else, to stop stop stop. But then there's that voice in the back of my hear that says, just try it. It'll make you feel something. It'll work this time. You need to see blood. I know self harm is bad, but I can't stop. And it's scaring me. Thinking about it now, my anxiety is very much like a beanie on a summer’s day. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, it gets too hot on top of all my curly hair, and there’s no need for it when the sun is shining. But I’m scared to take it off because of what might happen if I do. What would happen if I didn’t worry? What might not get done? How might I let the world down? It’s too terrifying a prospect to confront.

I've had a rough week in my rabbit warren. We had a toolbox open in our living room that's rarely used; I'd been using the pincers in it to make earrings. That cheered me up. But then the black mood fell and I took the pincers to my forearm below my wrist and squeezed, kept squeezing, pulled, until it bruised. I don't understand how I could let myself do something I knew was so harmful. I'm a smart person, I know better. But I still did it.

Thankfully, my other half is an angel. I told him what I'd done and he immediately hid the toolbox from me. He's always there to look after me. I’d love this story to end right here, with a hidden toolbox and no more bruises, with a kiss on the forehead and healing wounds. But I’ll finish typing this, and my nails will go to my scalp or my fingertips. And the war will start again.


About the Creator

Harriet Christabel

Harriet Christabel is a writer living in Scotland. When her depression and anxiety let her, she enjoys knitting, reading, a good mystery and true crime.

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