I don’t know why I decided to write on this particular topic. I suppose I just felt like it and probably because I understand how it feels. And because I was a victim.
I am Maimoonah Hassan, and I was a victim of self-harm.
It all started in the Xth grade. Continuous exam and peer pressure, and my declining health were the primary reasons I started to hurt myself. Initially, it was little. A slight cut or maybe cursing myself was the way I felt better. The main problems started when I moved to India to pursue further education. My life was a total mess. Tons of family, social and health problems had started weighing me down, and my migraines just made everything worse. My grades fell and that was when I started seriously harming myself. There was something in slicing through my skin and watching my blood trickle down my hand that relieved my pain, if only momentarily. At that point of time, nothing felt bad. I didn’t feel any pain, just a sort of high. It was a feeling that can’t be explained.
I was angry, I was depressed. And there was nobody who made me feel better. I was an outcast. My family didn’t understand me and there were barely any friends who I trusted enough to let them in my life. I used to project my anger by punching through windows or using the blade on myself. That was when I felt in control of my life.
A year later, I moved out of the hostel I stayed in, and moved into our apartment, and that didn’t make me feel any better. I hid my scars by wearing full sleeved tees or kurtas, not that anybody noticed if my arms were exposed. I bottled all my emotions and every time my mother yelled at me for being incompetent, the blade was there. The blade I used to cut myself was the only thing that kept me from completely losing my mind and drowning into nothingness.
I cried myself to sleep every night, and put on a lot of courage and a brave face to go to school the next day. That year my sister had qualified her Pre-Medical Tests, enabling her to take admission in a medical college and start her professional career as a doctor. That was when things started getting tougher.
I was considered to be the “intelligent” person in the family and my fate was decided and handed over to me- I had to follow in the family’s footsteps and become a doctor. I just HAD to. And because of this dreaded expedition, I had to drop a year for preparing (Which is a common trend in India nowadays.)
I moved to Kota, and joined the prestigious Allen Institute, to fulfill my parent’s dream of becoming a doctor. My health further declined, and my migraines caused me to remain half paralysed in my room day and night. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. And during Ramadan, I starved, as I lived among 99.9% non-Muslims. But thank the Lord I made amazing friends who took care of me and made sure I stayed alive. But it wasn’t happily ever after yet. The nagging continued, and so did the self-harm. The worst was when I failed to qualify my PMTs. That was the real trigger.
My parents admitted me into the Dental College of the same university my sister was in and of course, she got in and I was sold to the faculty, so that made a HUGE difference. I had self-esteem and confidence issues and I HATED the faculty of Medicine so much that I couldn’t bear waking up in the morning and going to college. And what was worse? The mutilation never went away. I used to cut myself and bleed onto the floor and my sister, who used to be in the next room, never noticed it.
My parents did, though. And they “warned” me to not cut again. Yeah, right. I don’t have a magic on/off button. But whatever. I mean, what did they know? All they cared about were good grades and a degree. Never did they ask why I did it, nor did they bother to find out. I pretended to agree and that was the end of it.
More boy trouble and overwhelming college gossip later, I realized that what I did to myself, stayed with myself. And that projecting the anger I developed because of others onto myself made no real sense. WHY should I hurt myself because of what others did to me? Or how they made me feel? It’s not like they’ll ever regret their choices to even stop for a moment to consider. Nobody cared. And I hurt myself, over and over again. That was when I decided to stop. I looked at all the scars that were born over the years and thought how pointless each and every scar was. I knew I needed help but didn’t bother to get any. I conjured up all of my strength to stop cutting myself because it was wrong. It was wrong in so many ways.
I was always a bright kid in school, but was always bullied. I tried to be popular in so many ways, including lying, but nothing ever helped. Eventually, I gave up seeking attention and because of pressure, lost my focus. I won’t say I’ve gained it all back and am supremely popular in college.
I don’t even have my stability back. But I’m getting there, one step at a time.
I wrote this for the people who are like me, who share my story. Because I know how you feel. And because I can tell you that harming yourself will do you no good. Because the people who don’t care now, never will. So I urge you, please, stop hurting yourself. I’m not asking you to go seek psychiatric help because you are not diseased. You are merely broken, and you alone can fix yourself. You’re beautiful and you’re strong. So pick up those pieces and start over. Because if I can try to make it, anyone can.