Page last updated at 11:03 GMT, Wednesday, 26 March 2003

'I cut myself with knives'

Sian Davies
Sian harmed herself with knives
Sian Davies took a drug overdose when she was 17-years old, but her cry for help went unheeded, and she went on to become a self-harmer.

Regularly cutting and stabbing herself with anything to hand - compasses, knives and even forks.

She told BBC News Online about her experiences.

"I'm going to be a self-harmer for the rest of my life. I'll never be able to say 'I have stopped," explains Sian. Sian, the 24-year-old president of Bournemouth University's Students' Union, first deliberately harmed herself in the second year of her media studies course.

"I had to go on a placement as part of my course as well as coping with my university work. I just found myself doing too much.

I just picked up a compass and stuck it into my arm. It hurt loads but it was also a real relief
Sian, 24
"I put on lots of weight and spent all my time working. Things were really getting on top of me."

"I just picked up a compass and stuck it into my arm. It hurt loads but it was also a real relief.

"Hurting myself provided the perfect way of expressing my frustration and pain."

"I cannot remember why I thought to do it. I'm a rational person and it just seemed like a rational thing to do."

Stress relief

Sian then started using self-harm as a way of regularly dealing with stress.

"I started to do it every week or every couple of weeks. I'd use compasses, knives and forks, anything I could drag across my forearm.

"Basically it was a form of release and it didn't matter if it marked the skin or bled. It made me feel better."

I'd make up stories about falling over or being scratched by a cat, but it was obvious I hadn't
"But I know now how to read the signs - I know when I'm vulnerable. I have to look after myself when I get tired, stressed or down.

"I know I need to have time to myself, eat properly, and talk things through with friends or family."

Made-up stories

"I always used to find it difficult to talk to people, and it was really embarrassing when people noticed the marks on my arm. I'd make up stories about falling over or being scratched by a cat, but it was obvious I hadn't."

"I came face to face with the reality of what I was doing to my friends and myself when my fiancÚ came to me crying and said that he could no longer cope with what I was doing.

"It was the wake up call that I needed and he made me realise that I needed to see the doctor. My doctor put me on anti-depressants for six months and this made me feel a lot better but it was the counselling that made a real difference to me."

Sian has also joined the Department of Health's "Read the Signs" campaign which encourages young people to recognise and seek help for mental health problems.

The last time Sian self-harmed was three months ago at the end of December.

Recently she sat with a knife and contemplated it - but decided instead to call a friend.

But she admits she will never be able to say for sure she has stopped self-harming for good.

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