Not a Bad Life

lewis tilt 5

I was getting pretty good grades at school before I dropped out. I was a really shy kid and wouldn’t say anything, so I got bullied quite a lot and I ended up with depression and an eating disorder. I started eating more and making myself sick because I was miserable, and I got fat. Then I was bullied even more. I remember after a German lesson once I was getting changed in P.E and people started calling me ‘fat’ in German. One kid was like, ‘Lewis’, and I was like, ‘What?’ and he was like, ‘Dick’. Because that is German for fat – spelled like that. I went to my tutor crying, ‘They called me ‘fat’ in German!’ That kid got kicked out of school because he stole a laptop. I do sort of understand why he was like that, because he had a really bad life.

I dropped out of school with no GCSEs and I was self-harming by then. I remember the first time I did it. It was the day before Halloween. I was in bed crying because when you have an eating disorder your mind is all messy and I didn’t really understand what I was doing. I scratched my wrist really hard with a door key and when I woke up the next morning it was still bleeding – I must have knocked it or something – and I was panicking a bit. After that I started using blades. I think the thing that started the self-harming is Tumblr. That’s how I found out that you can use cutting as a way to get relief. And it was so trendy. On Tumblr people try to make it seem beautiful – they post photos and write poems about it. That’s why I don’t mind talking about it – I think there needs to be more awareness about that. You shouldn’t glamourise it.

A couple of years ago I went on a course at college for people with no qualifications and that helped me get on a Photography course which I love. I get invited places now and people appreciate what I do. I’ve been getting distinctions for nearly all my work, have already been accepted on the next level course, and I’ve got plans to go to university. I went in to college the other day and my lecturer said, ‘Lewis, you’re the inspiration for a student’s A Level work!’ When they do their final piece it will have been inspired by me!

Being at college has made me better – I still have anxiety, but I’m not stuck in the house with no purpose. I still do make myself sick sometimes, but nowhere near as often and I’m getting better. The last time I cut, it I just did one then put the blade down and thought, ‘What am I doing?’ I didn’t get anything out of it. There wasn’t the relief. Probably because I’m not as bad as I was and I don’t need to do it any more. I understand in myself now that when things feel bad, it’s just me having a bad day – it’s not a bad life.