'I made six deep cuts on my legs'
Janice (not her real name) started cutting herself when she was in Form Two. 'I made six deep cuts on my legs; the scars are still quite obvious,' says the girl who is now 17 and studying in England.
The reason she started to harm herself remains vivid. 'It was to do with problems with my parents,' she says. 'A lot of people may say their parents don't understand them, but in my case, it was not an understatement.'
She says that, to this day, her older brother recieves different treatment from her parents. 'He gets more freedom and more pocket money,' Janice says. 'He got to spend a few weeks in Europe last summer, while I couldn't even go to Taiwan with my friends unless I got a good exam result.'
Two incidents involving her parents particularly upset her and helped to trigger her self-harming. Her parents had wanted her to play the piano since she was a child and made her continue up to Grade 8. After she received her Grade 8 diploma, she decided to learn to play something that she was interested in - the guitar.
'At first, they tolerated it. Then my father and I had a fight, and he slammed my guitar against the wall and nearly broke it,' she says. Then things got even worse.
'I liked to decorate my room with posters of rock bands and stars. But one day when I got home, I found all the posters were gone. My mother had taken them down because, she said, it was simply 'too much'. She didn't consult me, or ask me to take them down. She just did it.
'It may sound stupid, but my scars symbolised my love for playing the guitar. They reminded me of how my parents have treated me and how they didn't understand me. It hurt more than the physical pain I had.'
From the start of Form Three, Janice stopped cutting herself. Her best friend had asked her to stop. 'She made me promise her that I'd never cut myself again and I could call her whenever I had an urge to do it,' she says. 'Her encouraging words made me want to stop. She also helped me to see there are other ways I could express my feelings - such as art and music.'
That same year, she left Hong Kong to attend boarding school in Britain. Being away from Hong Kong - and her parents - has given her some space. 'It was odd coming back for term breaks. But as I was spending less time at home, we didn't argue that much. I'm not sure if I can say our relationship has improved though.'
Her parents never knew what she had done until a year after she stopped harming herself. 'When my mum saw my scars, she cried, but didn't ask many questions. She threatened to take me to a psychologist if I ever do it again. I think my parents don't want to talk about it; they think it's not a problem if they don't discuss it with me.'
Janice adds: 'I haven't cut myself in more than three years. I think I'm OK now.'
Additional reporting by YP cadet Candace Kwan