A Date with Non-Suicidal Self Harm

“You know how crazy that sounds, right?”

“If you are here to lecture me about how demented and lost I am, I’ve got nothing more to tell you”, he retorted.

“Look, I’m here to help; but you’ve got to trust someone! I’m sure your parents would understand.”

“And what good would that do? Can’t say anything concerning this to my parents, they’d think I’m deluded and stressed out as always.”

“Alright then, how about we pay a visit to our school counselor? You’ve got a decent rapport with her.”

“Fine, let’s do it.”

 We live in a society that stigmatizes rape, homosexuality, menstruation and well, mental health. There exist active movements mobilizing support for every issue aforementioned except for mental health and counseling services. This isn’t my experience, but that of a really close friend of mine. Having witnessed the kind of involuntary, remorseless trauma he’s harped on for so long, I’ve decided to shed light on a topic shrugged off by our kin and ostracized by society.

As would’ve been appropriate, we paid a visit to our counsellor, and she did manage to speak some sense into him. His was a tormented soul, the byproduct of a strenuous and rough childhood. He was but a 9th grader when he was coerced into an ‘early-bird’ JEE (a highly competitive examination for prospective engineering undergrads in India) tutorial program by his parents. He grew up with a battered self-esteemed owing to his flimsy appearance and nerdy articulation and was bullied due to this very reason. Thanks to his disturbing social as an adolescent, he grew up to hate himself.

He hated himself for not being a better version of himself. He hated himself for not being someone who could make his parents proud. He hated himself for failing at every relationship he got himself into. He hated himself for being just another geeky low-life.

Thus began his descent into non-suicidal self-harm.

Self Harm.jpg

He cut himself. With a knife, with a compass- with any sharp accessory he could find. Every cut he made lent him an endorphin rush beyond compare. He loved it, not because he wanted to kill himself, but because he hated himself. He had every intention to live, but the self-harm he inflicted upon himself translated into his sole source of self-gratification. It soon became his salvation and the only reason he wanted to live for.

Setting me aside, his sister was the only people he confided in. The very thought of revealing this psychological enigma to his parents repulsed him. After all, he was but a machine- a tool to satisfy their aspirations. Luckily for him, our counsellor took in his case with zero judgment and total professionalism. After a rigorous schedule which included behavioral therapies and medication, he re-emerged as the cheerful and considerate person he had always been.

Depression is a mental construct you cage yourself in, wherein you spend every second convincing yourself that one day, this nigh-endless tunnel of impregnable darkness shall end, but it never really does. Look at the smiling face next to you; it would indeed take a lot of thought and research to reveal the psychological contraption it’s ensnared in. Depression isn’t a facade to garner attention, but an issue as genuine and noteworthy as anything else. It’s about time we come to terms with the demons residing within; lest fate prove too late for us and the ones we love.


Prajesh Dey

(Helphen India)

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