I want to thank you for posting this Persephone. I understand the bravery that it takes to open up a topic like this, especially from a personal view.
I too am a self harmer, and I hate the idea that it is such a taboo topic in the world that gets dismissed so much, even when it often comes along with other mental illnesses that are slowly, and very slowly sometimes, gaining acceptance.
I'd only make two small contentions with what you wrote, less about the way you presented it and more about common issues and again myths that come up with this topic almost every time I see it arise, both relating to the idea of being an attention seeker.
Personally, I hate the way that people say that to be a 'real self harmer', or to not be an 'attention seeker' (in the commonly used context of that term) you have to hide your scars (the same as I hate the idea that cutting is the only real self harm but thats another topic). I know you weren't saying it with quite a strong thing, but I feel in any discussion about self harm, this is an important point, the same as saying not all depressed people are lethargic.
I don't hide mine. My arms are covered in at least fourty large scars on each. I scratch more then cut, so often I can explain it away by saying its allergic reactions, or bug bites, (even though no bug bite in the world would bite as often in one spot but hey, it works), but I do have cuts as well, even on my wrists. I don't hide mine because... I hate long sleeves, the feel of cloth on my wrists and at my elbows makes me irritable and panicky. And because I don't like the idea of being forced to be ashamed of what I've had to do to get by, simply because society doesn't understand. But equally I hate being asked about them. I withdraw, I lie, I avoid the topic as much as I can. I don't care that my scars show, because its apart of me, but I do care about people knowing, which puts me in a horrible spot, more horrible when people don't understand that there are more people like me when it comes to this.
Not everyone who self harms, hides it away secretly, covers every little scar and wound, and refuses to let anyone know. Some people don't hide them, some people blurt it out to others, but those people are in just as much need of help as others.
The other distinction I think needs to be made is the definition of 'attention seeker'. In a social context this is often said with a very negative association attached to it, attention seeking is often taken as a synonym for narcissism. In my mind there two types. You have the type that does just want to be in the limelight and be the center of attention, and then you have the other type.
As Persephone said:
I intentionally slipped up, so that I would get the help I needed. I made sure that someone caught me in the act. It just happened to be in the high school bathroom by a counselor. If she hadn't caught me, I feel like I probably wouldn't still be alive right now. Granted, I still cut and hid my scars afterwards. But at least somebody knew and wanted to help me.
This is the second type of attention seeking, the plea for help.
This is the critical type, the attention seeking that needs to be focused and helped.
I saw someone at McDonald's a couple of months ago. I was never friends with him, just acquaintances through a mutual friend, and I hadn't seen or even heard of him in months. I said 'Hi' and politely asked him how he was and he just blurt out that he was cutting again, and showed me his wrist, in a public area, these deep cuts. Several days later I heard he'd been committed to a psychiatric ward for help.
Some times people just want attention because they want, need to know that they are noticed, that people actually realize that they are there, to see if people even care enough to help, and even just to try and force someone into helping them if they don't feel they can help themselves. And its hard for those people to do that as they often get lumped in with the narcissist attention seekers and shunned even more. Watch out for these people too.
I apologize if this is out of place, and if you want Ill remove it, but like I said, it is just a side I feel often gets ignored with this topic.
I also open my PM box to anyone wanting to talk about this too, if thats okay.