Today I was at the Dragon Café, a mental health creativity hub in South London. I was sitting there, doing some oil pastelling to kill a bit of time, when a little girl sitting next to me said “What happened to your arms?”
For some reason, maybe because her mum had mental health problems, maybe because I sensed something, I said vaguely “I used to hurt them”.
“I do that,” she said.
“How old are you?”
“Ten. I get bullied at school.”
How can this little girl slip through the net? I hope, hope, hope that she is getting support. I hope she is being taken seriously. But I fear that terms like attention seeker, thoughts like it’s a phase, are being bandied about. I fear that intervention about the bullying is, as all kids fear, “just making it worse.” I worry that a child as young as my sister finds solace in cutting and doesn’t have a different outlet (she was, by the way, quite good at painting).
And I remember being thirteen… and I magnify this sadness tenfold and wonder how my mum felt when she first learned what I was doing to myself.