An Olympic Gold Medalist Opened Up About Self-Harm

Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images.

Dame Kelly Holmes won two gold medals during the 2004 Olympics, but a year before, she told BBC, she was struggling with self-harm.

During a Health and Wellbeing Live event on Sunday, she opened up about having experienced depression and said that she turned to self-harming regularly to "release the anguish" she was feeling.

After suffering 7 injuries before winning her Olympic medals, Holmes said she fell into depression, and experienced so many ups and downs that she would look in the mirror and "didn't want to be here."

"At my lowest, I was cutting myself with scissors every day that I was injured," she told BBC. "The scissors were in the bathroom and I used them to release the anguish that I had. It was really a bad place to be."

Now, however, she wants people to know that there is a way out.

"My biggest message to people is that you can get out of that and you can still achieve," she said, "There is always a light at the end of the tunnel."

According to the CDC, an estimated 383,000 people went to the emergency room for self-harm related injuries in 2012. Last year, the UK's National Health Service found a "shocking" rise in self-harm amongst young people.

A 2011 study on self-harm from King's College London found that people do so for many reasons: depression and anxiety, amongst other mental health problems, as well as doing so as a coping mechanism for trauma. Self-harm also may not necessarily mean that a person is attempting suicide, nor is it a means of "attention-seeking" — it's a sign of greater mental health problems that can be addressed with treatment and therapy.

On Monday, Holmes expressed her gratitude for her supporters on Twitter, adding that we need to be helping the many people who still suffer from depression and self-harm.

"Many people you talk to on a day to day basis could be suffering with anxiety, depression or more, but they don't speak out because they don't want to be judged," she wrote. "I know for sure that there is a light at the end of the dark, suffocating tunnel, but we may need help getting there. It does not discriminate — young, old, men, women, all races. We are who we are."

If you or someone you know is considering self-harm, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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