After all these years of self harming, all this time connecting with people online who self harm and volunteering with youth mental health organisations, it shouldn’t surprise me really. But sometimes it still does when I discover a fellow self harmer, someone who I wouldn’t expect to be cutting themselves.
I attended a community family music concert & market day aimed at promoting mental health yesterday afternoon. I was helping out with the hs (the national youth mental health initiative I volunteer with) stall and we were one amongst many mental health organisations present at this event.
I was talking to one of the girls who also volunteers with hs. She questioned as to how I got into being a volunteer for RO, the web based youth mental health service I also volunteer with. I replied that I had utilised the service myself when I was going through a tough time, and it’s because of my own mental health issues that I want to give back to these organisations and help others. It was then she revealed the white shirt she was wearing under our hs shirts was to cover up her scars. That’s not the story I got earlier in the day when I enquired as to why she was wearing an under-layer in this ridiculously hot weather, 30 over degrees in what’s meant to be autumn. Upon this revelation, I shared with her that I also have scars, just not on my arms. Which is why you will never see me in less-than-knee-length shorts.
I would have never picked her as someone who self harms. To be honest, she’s a bit too loquacious and confident for me. I’m not the only one to think so either. During our hs meeting, she was rather forthcoming with questions, comments and conversation. At a later date, I said to a friend, “She’s quite…out there.” “That’s one way to put it!” my friend remarked. “In the meeting it was just like, shut up!” she added.
I suppose I’m quite the opposite of that. I’m quiet, reserved and hesitant about voicing my thoughts and opinions. I haven’t met all that many people in real life who, to my knowledge, self harms. I guess it’s served as a reminder that it’s not always easy to tell at all if someone has issues, someone’s self harming, someone’s struggling with a mental illness.
On a side note, it’s so wonderful to see an event promoting mental health and mental health services out in the community. I left with a bag full of pamphlets, flyers and information booklets from many types of mental health services; beyondblue, a mental health consumers organisation, mental illness support groups, carers respite programs, Samaritans crisis line, amongst others.