Page last updated at 07:00 GMT, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 08:00 UK

'Self-harm brought me close to death'

Dionne McMillan, 22, from Edinburgh, self-harmed for about 10 years and tells the BBC news website about her experiences.

Dionne McMillan
Dionne McMillan has not self-harmed for about two years

I first self-harmed was when I was about 10 years old.

I just couldn't cope with life - I'd been in care, I'd been moved around from pillar to post so much that I had no stability in my early years.

That led to me having the problems I have now and have had for the past 10 years.

Self-harming gave me a release from the tension and stress that I'd been feeling and gave me a chance to escape from reality for a little while.

I didn't know what self-harm was at the age of 10, I wasn't copying anyone.

When you talk about self-harm, people always think it's about cutting yourself, but there are so many ways to do it.

For me it started with the tablets I took out of my grandparents' cupboard.

Then I accidentally cut myself while peeling potatoes.

That led to me starting to cut myself because I felt that with losing blood, all the bad feelings were leaving me as well.

Once you start self-harming, it's like a drug, it becomes addictive and it's very hard to stop

I self-harmed for 10-and-a-half years but after four years it was discovered, at a PE class in school.

One of the teachers saw my arms, asked what it was about and got psychiatrists in.

When that happened, everything was taken out of my control and that was the one thing I didn't want because I felt self-harm gave me control over my life.

After it was first discovered, I continued to self-harm for more than six years.

It became more and more dangerous, to the point where there were a few occasions when I was very close to death.

If it hadn't been for medical intervention I wouldn't be here now.

I only stopped because I fell pregnant with my son.

I no longer viewed my body as my own - I couldn't damage it because I needed to keep myself safe for this baby that was growing inside me.

So it was a decision that I made to end it.

'Safety blanket'

People in my position should speak to someone, whether it's a friend, teacher, parent - anyone.

If self-harm had been more talked about when I was younger, I think I would've been able to seek help a lot quicker.

I don't think I would've got as bad if I'd had the early intervention when I first started.

Once you start self-harming, it's like a drug, it becomes addictive and it's very hard to stop.

It's been about two years since I last did it and I'm not completely safe from it.

I think about it every single day because self-harm wasn't just a coping mechanism for me - it was like a safety blanket which meant I could deal with the world around me.

I know there could be a day where I will return to it.

But I will fight that as long as I can because my son needs me and that's my inspiration.

I get ongoing support, but for me I don't think having the professional help is what's going to keep me going - I've got to do that - no-one else can do it for me.

Study reveals teen self-harm rate
27 Aug 08 |  Scotland

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