Self-Harm: A Hidden Addiction, Part I

Brittany Carlton1.jpg

This two-part article was written by Brittany Carlton, a 20-year-old who has been in a long-term battle with depression and self-harm.

It all started when I was really young. I’ve had asthma since I was 6 months old and was in the hospital quite often as a child. I even failed first grade because I missed so much school due to being sick. I remember Children’s Hospital being like a second home to me when I was little. I’ve had pneumonia three times already – once my left lung collapsed on me.

Dealing with Death

I met my first best friend in kindergarten, and she was always by my side. In fifth grade, a few months before winter break, she got sick and went to the hospital. She soon found out she had leukemia. The day I got back from winter break, I found out that she had passed away. I was in complete shock. I couldn’t cry or feel anything.

I got so depressed that I never wanted to go to school in sixth grade. I failed because my depression got the best of me. Then, while taking sixth grade over again, my uncle passed away from liver cancer. I went to school the day of his funeral because I wanted to be away from the pain. I stayed by my favorite teacher as much as possible because she was always there for me and just being around her made me feel a little better.

The summer after sixth grade, my grandma passed away. Going to her funeral was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I barely remember it. It was all just a blur to me. I was trying to stay strong for everyone. After that point, my life was over.

In seventh grade, I was completely on auto-pilot. This was when I started hurting myself. It all started with a cat scratch on my arm. I turned it into a heart by cutting the rest of the shape in.

Wanting to Die

I remember days when I just wanted to die. One day I was in the bath crying my eyes out. I asked God why he would take the best part of my life away. I prayed that God would kill me. I said, “You don’t, then I will.” I remember numerous nights going to sleep wishing, Please don’t wake up in the morning.

My freshman year started out well. I had all honors classes and got good grades during the first two weeks. But when I found out my mom cheated on my dad and said she had a boyfriend, it was the start of something horrible. My parents fought 24/7 and kept me and my brothers up all night, so I missed almost my entire freshman year trying to make sure they didn’t kill each other – literally.

I started keeping track of how many times my mom lied by cutting lines into my arm every time I knew she did. I failed every class that year. Also, my counselor at school knew I was hurting myself. She was one of the first people who knew, and even after my parents found out nothing changed.

Breaking Down and Losing Control

I went back to school in 10th grade and got straight A’s the first semester, despite all of the pain. But I broke down in the middle of the year. There were two reasons: The first was that no one seemed to care about all of the hard work I put into school besides my teachers. I could have come home with straight F’s and gotten the same reaction.

The second reason was that I lost my best friend. She had told me that she just couldn’t be friends with me anymore, and it broke my heart. She was more than my best friend; I was in love with her. After losing her, I went into a downward spiral – and it wasn’t a slow one.

A few days later, I was in the psych hospital. Everything was falling apart. I started seeing a social worker, and she helped me a little. Since I was under age, I couldn’t tell her when I hurt myself because she would have to tell my parents. I finished the school year with straight A’s, but no one caring about it made me spiral downwards again. I was losing control.

Click here to read Part II.


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