Too often literary approaches to self harm are clinical or triggering. As a consequence, you feel alone for reading them – distant and detached or you get pulled into the part of yourself that you try to avoid. Victoria Leatham approaches the topic not as something to offer self help advice on, but to simply tell a story – her story – and shed some light on what it can look like and how it can feel from the inside.
There were times when I had to put the book down for a few days – a story hit close to home or a description was graphic, but she honestly portrayed what it looks like to struggle against yourself and your bodies illogical desire for something that most people cannot comprehend it craving.
This book doesn’t come from a Christian perspective. It will not give you instructions on how to approach someone who is cutting. But through Victoria’s friends, you see models of different reactions. You see her mother shy away, you see her boyfriend scoff, you see friends rally together to support, and you see Peter – a friend – pay off debts for her so she could have a fresh start and find a job without pressure to pay debts. This isn’t explicit advice she gives, but in it, you might see a picture of yourself.
Maybe that’s the power of Bloodletting for me. That in Victoria I saw a picture of my own scars. We didn’t have the same experiences, but I understand some of the turmoil. I see myself in some of her friends as I stood beside them through their struggles with self harm. I see my friends in some of Victoria’s friends.
And I am grateful that she told her story. I think you should read it. It will give you a glimpse into a world that is closer than you know. It is a hard read because sometimes, it just seems that there is no hope. But get to the end. The questions aren’t all answered. But it does get better.