23 Mar 2010
Barrie wears his heart on his sleeve and conceals a painful secret beneath the cuffs. His arms and wrists bear the scars of a life lived on a knife-edge. Lacerations intersect his skin like wires on a telegraph pole - sending out SOS’s in all directions. The legacy of lesions are testament to his remarkable resolve, but society sees it differently - so he covers up.
Deliberate self-harm remains one of the most misunderstood and maligned mechanisms for coping. Self-injury, like anorexia and bulimia, is a social taboo; shrouded in secrecy and held in contempt. Issues surrounding alcohol and drug abuse, the acceptable face of self-harm, aren’t accompanied by nefarious overtones. Society cruelly scalds and disenfranchises those who inflict hurt on themselves. Some take the view that the condition is one of selfish or nihilistic attention seeking. Others deride their actions as feeble or pathetic. Cutting and burning gives the self-harmer a momentary sense of self-determination and control of their life. Self-harming is a symptom of a desperately low self-esteem – sufferers seek only our compassion and support.
Barrie’s self-harming peaked while serving time for joy-riding - his crime of passion. After ‘lights out’ was when Barrie would release the pressure. His self-esteem was so low, and his rage so great, that he protected the other inmates by turning the blade on himself.
Barrie has kicked his addiction to crime and heroin - straight for 7 years, clean for three. Now he’s digging deep in his battle against alcoholism. Barrie ended self-harming seven years ago but has never permitted himself to celebrate or take strength from his prodigious achievement- cutting free.