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'Self-harming made me feel like I had support'

A FALLING-OUT with a friend led 18-year-old Jade Bourne into a two-year long cycle of self-harm she couldn't break out of.

A schoolgirl at the time, she was already isolated and after the incident she found herself looking at a self-harm website.

Although the images were horrifying, the posts by users conveyed to Jade a sense of community that she felt she was missing. "At first I was quite shocked people were posting these pictures but after constantly looking at the website, I saw people who were supporting each other which I didn't have at school," she says.

"It seems silly to me now, but I thought these people were offering really good support. I thought if I do that, I will be supported too."

A few weeks later, she deliberately cut herself on the leg at home in the bathroom: "It was difficult to do for the first time but I thought things would work out better, it was a coping mechanism."

Jade slipped into a cycle of cutting herself to take away the negative thoughts of feeling friendless and then cutting herself to take away the guilt from cutting herself: "I thought it would be better to take my anger and aggression out on myself as I had no one to go to."

"At the time it made me feel better, but I realise now I was just in self-destruction mode, it was making things ten times worse."

Through her own determination and focusing on the image of a butterfly, she managed to stop hurting herself.

She explains: "You draw a butterfly on yourself and if you self-harm, you are effectively killing that butterfly but if you don't and let it fade, that is the butterfly flying away. You get a sense of achievement from that. And that's what really helped me stop."

"I stopped on my 17th birthday. I wanted to get a butterfly tattoo for my 18th as a mark of it being over; but it was a difficult year, every little negative thing was trying to drag me back into it."

Jade is now a sessional youth worker who will be going to college in August to study child care.

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