Self-harm: One student’s story

Lauren Cullen

Senior Aryn Tedstone

In the year 2014, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) reported that 14% of local high school students surveyed said they had self-harmed within the past twelve months. The YRBS is a survey sent to nine local high schools, including WA, and in 2014, 7,026 students participated. This means that roughly 900 students in this area have self-harmed before. One of these students is senior Aryn Tedstone.

Tedstone, who is very open about her past, said she first started to self harm in her eighth grade year when she was having trouble completing an essay.

“I got so frustrated with myself for not being  able to just finish this essay that I drove myself to self- harm as a form of punishment,”  she said.

Tedstone said from that moment on, she continued to self-harm over the next three years, all to inflict punishment on herself for various reasons. She said a lot of the stress she felt was due to schoolwork, something  that has always been difficult for her to manage. Throughout those three years, she said she believes she cut herself six or seven times. However, after the first two times, she started using a knife to cut herself with, which made much deeper wounds and led to scars as well.

Tedstone said none of her family or friends realized for a long time that she was hurting herself because she would cut herself on her thighs and upper arms. Her mother only found out about her self-harming when Tedstone’s shirt was higher cut than normal, and exposed the cuts on her shoulders.

Tedstone’s mother brought her right away to doctor, who advised that she be put under watch.

“My parents had to sleep in the same room as me, and couldn’t let me out of their sight. I was very upset by that,” Tedstone said.  “I  remember coming home from the doctor’s crying and screaming about it.”

Tedstone said she had been seeing therapists before this incident for her depression, but also talked to them about her self-harming. They were able to help her get to the point she is at today.

Currently, Tedstone is doing well. She hasn’t self-harmed in almost two years.  She said she has bad days still, but notices she is able to mange those days better than she ever has before.

“Normally, if I was doing better and then took a dip [emotionally],  I would spiral downwards and end up in a huge depressive episode,” she said. “But I have gotten better at pulling myself out of those and realizing that you can’t feel fantastic all the time. Bad days are just a part of life.”

Looking back on her experiences, Tedstone said she thinks now that it was an insane thing to do to herself and realizes it will not help her situation.

“I do regret it, but even now I have thoughts about self-harming. But, I am able to stop myself and ask ‘What is this going to solve?’,” she said. “If I do have the impulse to  self-harm, I just remember that there are better ways to manage my emotions.”

Another thing that helps resist her urge to self-harm is drawing, which is something that she said is passionate about, which helps take her mind off of the negative thoughts.

She recommends to anyone who is struggling with self-harm now to not do it, and remember that it won’t solve anything, and there are tons of people willing to talk about it with them.