Fighting Me: An 18-Year-Old’s Story of Overcoming Self-Harm
(Every year, October 10 is observed as World Mental Health Day. For us at FIT, it's a great opportunity to ignite the conversation about mental illnesses and remove the stigma around them. We are reposting stories from our archives to spread awareness)
18-year-old Ambuj used to self-harm, he still does sometimes, and even attempted suicide twice. But his is a story of fighting himself and steadily paving a path to self-care and therapy.
Self-harm has become increasingly common among teenagers in the country. Although it’s difficult to gather concrete data, various studies have established this. And all these adolescents don’t necessarily have a tangible reason for harming themselves. Mental health issues are at the core of it.
From his school days, he would inflict cuts on himself.
His first episode of self-harm, though not as serious, was in Class 6. He went for rounds of therapy after that. But soon after, military school happened and because of the pressure and environment there, the instances of self-harm returned.
“When I punched through a window and slit my wrist (again) with a shard, the school authorities decided that I needed to be withdrawn from the institution,” recalls Ambuj.
He came back home and Class 10 and 11 passed by without any exceptional event.
But regular therapy and a will to overcome self-harm have paved his path to recovery.
“Depression and self-harm don’t define who I am,” says Ambuj. Poetry and music are two things that he loves and actively engages in. And he wants to start his own YouTube channel too.
How to Overcome Self-Harm
The thing about depression and self-harm is that they doesn’t have a standard go-to guide for treatment like any other physical illness does. But there are some basic things which should be kept in mind.
Child psychiatrist Dr Amit Sen, who is also Ambuj’s doctor, says that at the core of overcoming self-harm lies a combination of support, understanding and seeking professional help. However, the plan of action depends on the severity of the risk and the underlying cause.
Here are some points that will help those dealing with self-harm, according to Dr Amit Sen.
- I would encourage them to reach out to people who will understand and support them. This could include family, friends, teachers/counsellors, therapists/psychiatrists and so on.
- Parents should never take self-harm lightly and think that it is “attention-seeking behaviour”, which I have seen some parents do.
- They shouldn’t scold, admonish, provoke or criticise the child either, for that can lead to tragic consequences.
- What children need from parents at this time is empathy, love, support and looking for professional help.
- Build awareness in our communities – including schools and among parents, teach life skills, address the culture in schools and colleges (where self-harm tendencies are common), and improve sensitivity to the emotional needs of children.
Self-harm is a complex issue that requires prevention and intervention at various levels. But understanding what it is and the reasons behind it will go a long way in improving the lives of those afflicted.
Cameraperson: Shiv Kumar Maurya
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
Illustrations: Saumya Pankaj
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