In a powerful op-ed published Thursday in The New York Times, Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson opened up about her history of depression and self-harm.
The frontwoman of the Scottish-American alternative band said she first cut herself when she was a teenager and had dropped out of high school, and that her urges to self-harm still continued after she achieved international fame.
“I didn’t know I was a cutter until the first time I chose to cut. I didn’t even know it was a ‘thing,’ ” Manson, 51, writes in the op-ed, titled, “The First Time I Cut Myself.”
Manson says that at the time, she was “having sex with multiple partners, experimenting with drugs and drinking copious, alarming amounts of alcohol. I would often fall foul of crushing depression, struggling to get out of my bed before 4 in the afternoon. Having flunked out of school, I had no set future in mind.”
She says she first cut herself during a fight with a boyfriend who had “unresolved anger issues toward women” and mistreated her, including insisting on having unprotected sex and also cheating on her.
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“He and I had been arguing for some time, our voices gradually becoming more and more raised. I was concerned that we might wake his flatmates, and in a moment of utter exasperation, I reached across for my little silver penknife, pulled it from the lace of my shoe and ran the tiny blade across the skin of one ankle.”
“It didn’t hurt,” she writes in the Times, adding that she cut herself twice more.
She adds, “In that room at that moment, I felt untouchable and powerful. I was a woman in charge.”
Over time, Manson says, her self-harm got more severe.
“The problem of course with any practice of self-harm is that once you choose to indulge in it, you get better, more efficient, at it. I started to hurt myself more regularly,” she writes. “The cuts got deeper. I hid the scars under my stockings and never breathed a word about it to anyone.”
Manson writes that her urge to cut herself subsided after her toxic relationship with her boyfriend ended. But it returned, again, during a tour in Europe after the release of Version 2.0. (The 20th anniversary edition of the album was released recently.)
Because of what she described as “immense physical and mental pressure” brought be becoming “a media ‘it’ girl,” she writes that “the pull was as compelling as it had ever been.”
“I was suffering from extreme “impostor syndrome,” constantly measuring myself against my peers, sincerely believing that they had gotten everything right and I had gotten everything so very wrong,” she writes in the Times.
But she resisted the urge to cut herself, Manson says.
“I try to remain vigilant against these old thought patterns,” she writes in the Times, explaining that she surrounds herself with kind people and focuses on her own happiness.
“I vow to hold my ground. I choose to speak up. I attempt to be kind, not only to myself but also to other people. I surround myself with those who treat me well.”