Shirley Manson Wrote About Her History of Self-Harm and How She Manages It Today

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Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson wrote an intimate personal essay for The New York Times called “The First Time I Cut Myself” detailing her history of self-harm and how she manages those impulses today.

The piece, published Tuesday as part of Times’ ongoing “The First Time” series in which famous people write about the first time they did something, begins with Manson in mid-’80s Scotland, beginning a relationship with a “tall and handsome” man with “unresolved anger issues” with women. “I should have run for the hills, but I didn’t,” she writes.


Manson writes that she began self-harming as a way to externalize the pain this man caused her in their relationship that she found herself unable to communicate otherwise: “[H]ere were lines of my blood to bear witness to [what didn’t feel right] and speak of it on my behalf.” After that relationship ended, she began seeing “a loving, respectful person” who knew how to communicate, and “the cutting abruptly stopped.” The impulse to self-harm has not gone away, she says, but she has become better at managing it through a variety of self-honed practices.

As for why she wrote the piece, Manson says that self-harm “was something I came to naturally, privately, covertly.” She’d never heard of it before she started doing it, much less how to deal with it. “I choose to speak up,” she writes in closing. Read the full piece here.

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