Katie Hamilton, 21, has been a TheSite.org user since she was 16. In recent years she has acted as an advocate for the self-harm section of TheSite.org, by giving media interviews about her personal experience of self-harm.
I was 16 when I found TheSite.org by chance after an argument with my dad. I’d just moved back home from my studies and the arguments had started again. No one knew about it, but I’d recently started cutting myself.
I had recently left home in Newcastle to begin training as a ballet dancer in London. I was so proud of myself for getting the place on the course, and also so relieved that I was leaving home. When I got there, I found the atmosphere at the school incredibly pressurised. I registered on TheSite.org forums, and there I was able to talk in confidence about my problems because it’s completely anonymous.
I stayed in London for two full terms, but it became too much of a challenge to continue. I finally told my dance teacher about the cutting, and although she was supportive she couldn’t help me. So I ended up back with my parents in Newcastle, where I didn’t feel any better. At this point I became severely depressed and suicidal but no one seemed to notice. I had been raped in the third term and no-one knew. It led me to develop quite severe post traumatic stress disorder. They all focused on the self harm, so I did too. I decided to go back to London for the second year of my dance course, partly because college was the lesser of two evils. I was still depressed and unhappy, my self-harming got worse, and eventually I took an overdose. I was admitted to hospital and spent my third term lying in an inpatient’s ward.
Afterwards, I went back to Newcastle and everything felt like it was falling apart. I was told by the ballet school that I couldn’t return because of my problems. I was forced out of my flat in London, didn’t have any money, and my dad then kicked me out and I ended up living in a refuge house for abused women for a month. My situation didn’t improve there and I took a few smaller overdoses.
About a year later I moved back to London and managed to get a job. I don’t know how I did it, but things got better. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and I’m far from fully recovered but compared to what I was like, I am now completely unrecognisable. I became kinder to myself, more aware of why I started to feel so bad in the first place and understand that it’s not my fault – you can’t control things that happen outside of you and if you’ve been taught to react a certain way, it’s difficult, but not impossible, to learn a different outlook.
The advice I got from TheSite.org definitely helped me to get better, which is why I now work to promote the self-harm pages – they really are excellent, and the articles about what to expect when you go to your GP or to A&E are so helpful because you can’t find this out anywhere else. It stops people being afraid to get help.