CHESTERFIELD: Woman speaks out after almost losing leg due to self harm

Claire Shortland campaigning to help self harmers in Chesterfield
Claire Shortland campaigning to help self harmers in Chesterfield

“Doctors warned me if I didn’t stop I could die or lose my leg,” said Claire Shortland who began self harming as a teenager.

But Claire, now 24, said the urge to cut and burn herself was so strong it took her years to overcome the mental illness.

Chesterfield woman Claire began self harming at 14 after the sudden death of a neighbour who she “saw as a dad.”

The compulsion got stronger after she turned 18 - seeing her treated in hospital and on psychiatric wards for cuts, burns and overdoses on numerous occasions.

She added: “I was self-harming in a particular way, in a particular place in my leg repeatedly. It got infected to the point I was warned if I didn’t stop I would lose my leg or die.”

Claire, who still receives treatment but has been in recovery for three years, now wants to help other people suffering with the condition and dispel some of the myths around the taboo subject.

She said: “While attending the emergency department department I sadly received unwanted treatment and negative attitudes.

“It seems there is very little awareness around self harm and I would like to see that changed.”

The former Meadows Community School pupil, who is an activist for mental health charity Rethink in Ripley, has launched the Different Minds, Same Hearts campaign and is working with the NHS to help improve attitudes.

She added: “People self harm for different reasons. For me it was a way of controlling my emotions which were pretty strong and unbearable. I could control how I felt and was also punishing myself for things I thought I had done.”

Claire has also received the backing of Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills who wants to see mental health services improved in hospitals.

Nigel said: “Claire’s inspirational efforts don’t aim to criticise hospital and mental health services staff, but she feels that seeking treatment can sometimes be made difficult by negative and judgmental attitudes about self-harm.

“Self-harm and suicide attempts are incredibly complicated problems and aren’t simply matters of attention-seeking behaviour. The response that vulnerable people can get from their friends, families and those from who they seek medical assistance can make all the difference as to whether they seek help again.”

Claire, who now lives in Derby, hopes her campaign will shape the way hospitals treat patients with mental illness in the future.

A self harm awareness day is being held at Chesterfield Hotel on February 27 from 10am to 5pm.

Claire will be attending the event which will see charity stalls and workshops on offer.

To book a place on the workshop call Claire on 07971510702.