Shattering Stigmas: Taylor Swift and My Recovery from Self-Harm

Welcome to the last day of Shattering Stigmas! Since October 6 I’ve been highlighting voices from the book community on mental health. I co-hosted this event with Taylor from Stay on the Page, Shannon from It Starts at Midnight, and Amber from YA Indulgences so make sure to check their blogs out to see different content.

Content Warnings: depression, anxiety, self-harm

I’ve been an anxious bean for as long as I can remember but it was when I was eight that my anxiety really started to manifest – though I didn’t understand it at the time. I couldn’t figure out why it seemed like all of my friends could play and carry on conversations so easily when I second-guessed my every move and had to practice sentences in my head before speaking them. It felt like everything I did was being judged and any time I walked away the people I left behind would start to whisper about me.

This is a lot for a young person to carry – especially when it isn’t recognized as anxiety by any adults in their life.

I guess you really did it this time
Left yourself in your war path
Lost your balance on a tightrope
Lost your mind trying to get it back

Fast forward to high school, when I switched from being homeschooled to attending public school, and depression was added into the mix. I honestly don’t know if it appeared earlier or not but this is the period I can reflect on and see the signs. Along with continuing to question my every move I was also sad for seemingly no reason, irritable, hopeless, and preferred to sleep any chance I got.

This is a lot for a teenager to carry – especially when it isn’t recognized as depression by any adults in their life.

It felt like nothing was under my control – not my emotions, what classes I took, how I spent my time. Adding those feelings to the depression and anxiety caused me to reach my breaking point.

Did some things you can’t speak of
But at night you live it all again
You wouldn’t be shattered on the floor now
If only you had seen what you know now then

I owned a small pocket knife and, for reasons unknown to me, I could feel its pull. I’ve tried to figure out where I first learned about self-harm but I can’t pinpoint a specific moment. It was almost instinctual how I somehow knew that if I used it on my unmarked skin I would feel better.

And for a while, I did feel better.

Cutting myself gave me the control I so desperately needed. The physical pain I felt helped me feel grounded. I was already hurting emotionally for reasons I couldn’t change but at least this time it was because I wanted to.

Eventually, when even the self-harm wasn’t helping and it left me feeling more guilty than calm, I got help. Thankfully there was an adult in my life I could turn to and together we figured out how to navigate this journey. But my drama teacher wasn’t the only one to lend an ear and shoulder; though she’ll likely never know it Taylor Swift also helped me carry the burden my feelings heaped on me.

It’s alright, just wait and see
Your string of lights is still bright to me
Oh, who you are is not where you’ve been
You’re still an innocent
It’s okay, life is a tough crowd
32, and still growing up now
Who you are is not what you did
You’re still an innocent

In 2010 she released her album Speak Now. It isn’t my favorite of hers (though I still love it) but towards the end, you’ll find one of my favorite songs – Innocent. In it, she talks about how some of us relive all the mistakes we’ve made and are left feeling shattered. But, in the chorus, she gives us a message of hope. Even as an adult you’re still learning and growing, you’re light is still bright no matter what mistakes you’ve made, you’re still an innocent.

I haven’t self-harmed in a very long time but I won’t lie and say that I never feel the urge. It happens more often than I’d like to admit and I have to make a conscious effort to resist. Any time I do get that itch, though, I know that I can play Innocent, get lost in the song, and use it to help me cope until the feelings subside.

Time turns flames to embers
You’ll have new Septembers
Every one of us has messed up too
Lives change like the weather
I hope you remember
Today is never too late to be brand new

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12 thoughts on “Shattering Stigmas: Taylor Swift and My Recovery from Self-Harm”

  1. You’re so brave for posting it, it’s so hard to let people see the dark parts of us. Especially the scary parts that a lot of people won’t understand unless they’ve been there. I feel like it’s a really different part of mental health because there could be so many reasons for it. I know one of mine was control of pain and dealing with pain. It’s so difficult.

    I really related to this, all the way down to the, not-pocket-knife but a pocket nail file. It’s a hard as hell struggle that I feel really never goes away, you know? Even if you don’t do it, it’s there in the back of your mind. You and your being a general sense. There’s a quote from Degrassi where a character named Ellie tells someone “I used to cut myself and what’s bizarre is that I’m always going to be a cutter. Even if I don’t do it for years, it’s still me.” And I think that at least wraps me up.

    I’m so, so glad someone was able to help you. I dove into music as a way to help as well. Darker stuff generally but… Anyway. If you ever need to talk about it, let me know! 🧡🧡

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, this was definitely one of those things I was afraid most people wouldn’t understand but sharing it just felt right? Maybe it was seeing so many people being brave and sharing their stories during Shattering Stigmas that gave me the courage to do it. And if my experiences can help somebody else feel less alone or give them the courage to seek help then being vulnerable and possibly judged is 100% worth it.

      I’ve never seen Degrassi, which I need to fix, but that quote resonated with me so much and is exactly how I feel. I’m glad you shared it with me.

      I’m always here if you need to talk as well. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A powerful read Mari, thank you for sharing! If you ever need to talk or just feel a little low feel free to message me, I’m here for you 💗💗💗

    Liked by 1 person

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