Self-harm involves a person damaging their body by cutting, burning, scratching or practicing any other behavior that results in pain or injury.

This "Tell your story" project is on my beautiful client McKenzie who is in recovery from cutting. She came to me while I was in Alabama and wanted to take a moment to tell her story and bring awareness to those that may be suffering from self-harm as well.

“Out of the suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”

When I met Miss McKenzie for the first time she was so soft spoken and sweet. She came with her other friend that was having a different type of photography session. She waited so patiently while I worked. Once it was time for her session we went to a separate room to take pictures of her scars. She wasn't ashamed of hiding them because she hopes that telling her story will help someone else that may be struggling from self harm as well. As we chatted a little about this, I asked was there any certain type of item she preferred when she did cut. McKenzie kinda shrugged her head and I asked just whatever is available at the time? She said yes. She chose to write out her story and take the pictures later so as you read on this is what she has written personally.

My Story

"The reason I tell everyone I love them is because you never know what they are going through you never know what will happen to them you never know when the last time you talk to them will be. Saying I love you to them can save their lives. I know it saved mine."

At the age of 12 McKenzie began cutting, "I was struggling to hold on to my life. I wanted to end it but I didn’t know how. So I contemplated it for months. I ended up cutting for 3 years. I am in recovery from that. I still think about it." She has currently been in recovery for about a year now.

"I still think about killing myself. I have depression and anxiety. I also have insomnia and ADHD. I’m on medication for all of them. I was emotionally and physically abused by my dad for the first 10 years of my life. Every time I get hurt I have flashbacks of everything that’s been said and done to me. It sucks but I have to live with it because I’m afraid to say something."

"My life is messed up. Especially for the past 2 years. I lost my godfather (my father figure). I never told the man I loved him. It kills me to know that he was fighting his demons alone. And I never said I love you to him. It hurts more than you know. But yea that’s basically my life story."

As we finished up her pictures I noticed her ring on her hand. It says "Keep Fucking Going," that had to be the most amazing thing for her to be wearing. It is a great reminder that when situations and life become too much to just keep fucking going. I asked McKenzie what are some things she does now when she finds her self needing to cut, her answer was that she likes to colorings, drawing, being outside, and learning photography.

Statistics & Seeking Help

One analysis across more than 40 countries found that:

  • About 17% of all people will self-harm during their lifetime
  • The average age of the first incident of self-harm is 13
  • 45% of people use cutting as their method of self-injury
  • About 50% of people seek help for their self-harm but only from friends instead of professionals

Crisis Contacts:

The Recovery Village: 877.891.1361

Crisis Text Line:


S.A.F.E. Alternatives information line in the U.S. at 1-800-366-8288

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S. at 1-800-273-8255