Meredith Pickens never realised the journey of pain she was about to inflict upon herself when she scraped the first cut into her arm at 15 years old.
The impact of it would ripple far beyond the thin red line she had formed after breaking through her skin, leaving the start of many scars to come.
The now 29-year-old has opened up about her traumatic ten-year battle with self-harm in a Voices of Hope video, speaking out about her untold struggles in a bid to help others going through similar pain and to quash misunderstandings about the mental pain of someone struggling.
Meredith Pickens (pictured at 23) never realised the journey of pain she was to inflict upon herself when she scraped the first cut into her arm at 15 years old
Ms Pickens went from a generally happy, shy kid to dealing with issues of loneliness, self-hatred and shame at 15 years old
‘Self-harm is never spoken about and when it is, it is often misunderstood,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I wanted to share my story not only to help bring a greater understanding to this whole issue but also to let people know who do secretly struggle with self-harm and mental health issues that they are not alone and there is always hope.’
In the short clip, just under four minutes long, Ms Pickens, who was born in Bendigo – a city two hours outside of Melbourne, tells herself the things she wish she knew when she first began to inflict harm on herself.
‘Dear Meredith,’ she says in the clip. ‘If I could have told you that inflicting one little scratch on your arm at the age of 15 would lead you to years of hurting yourself I would have told you to stop.’
The now 29-year-old inflicted pain on herself for 10 years to deal with the trauma left from childhood abuse
‘I would have told you there is people to talk to but I don’t think that you would have listened.
‘You were hurting so much more than anyone ever knew and the pain from your childhood was unspeakable.’
Instead of speaking out about the suffering she was experiencing like loneliness, self-hatred and shame with, she hurt herself.
She would repeatedly do this when she felt out of control and when she wanted her internal pain to reflect on the outside.
Ms Pickens told Daily Mail Australia as a child she had endured abuse which she didn’t speak out about until her mid-20s.
She is speaking out about her untold struggles in a bid to help others going through similar pain
‘The outcome of that abuse was an overwhelming amount of emotional pain and so I needed an outlet for that pain which is why self-harm became a part of my life.’
She used the method to escape, although year after year she would see the effects of the negative infliction leak into her everyday life.
Ms Pickens stopped making an effort at home and at school while mentally withdrawing from everyday life to hide what she was doing from others.
By the time she reached her 20s she was cutting herself multiple times a day.
She said her arms would throb and burn under clothing, as she wondered if she could ever move past it.
Ms Pickens revealed to Daily Mail Australia how the intense trauma impacted her and made her want to escape her own life
She shares her story wanting to quash misunderstandings about the mental pain of someone struggling and give others hope that it does get better
When she was 25 she was admitted to hospital, after not sleeping for two days straight, with more than 200 cuts to her arms and legs done ‘in the hope I would feel something.’
She believes she was locked in the vicious cycle of pain, secrecy and destruction.
‘Suicidal, isolated, hopeless, life seemed no longer worth living – but you were so wrong.’
What she once thought would consume her life for ever, did not and she started to realise there was more to life than experiencing pain.
After moving from Victoria to New Zealand in 2014 she decided that she would speak instead of hurt.
What she once thought would consume her life for ever, did not and she began to understand there was more to life to live for
Together with Jazz Thornton (pictured) and Genevieve Mora of Voices of Hope to spread the word that there can be good times following bad
She said it began with choosing to trust people despite her fears of what they would think or say.
When Ms Pickens wanted to harm herself, she would talk about it, leaving her destructive behaviour behind.
‘I was so scared of a life without self-harm because I had become part of my identity, it was what I thought I deserved.’
She placed herself around people who offered support, and says it was not easy but knows there was freedom awaiting her once the pain subsided.
Her advice for others is to be brave, know that they are not alone and to speak out to others
Today, the college administrator finds it hard to believe that she is able to live without turning to self-harm to fight troublesome times, having relied on it so much growing up, but admits there ‘is a life beyond your scars.’
She is though, now stronger, taking each day in its stride, accepting people who give her courage.
Her advice for others is simple: ‘You are not alone, be brave and don’t remain silent.’