Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson has penned a personal essay for the New York Times about self-harm. Titled “The First Time I Cut Myself”, the essay details how Manson began cutting herself with a knife while she was a teenager suffering from depression and in a relationship with someone with “serious, unresolved anger issues toward women”, and how she found that impulse returning while touring Garbage’s album Version 2.0.
“I was under immense physical and mental pressure,” Manson writes. “I was a media ‘it’ girl, and as a result I was lucky enough to be invited to grace the covers of newspapers and fashion magazines all over the world. Perversely, the downside of attracting so much attention was that I began to develop a self-consciousness about myself, the intensity of which I hadn’t experienced since I was a young woman in the throes of puberty. I was suffering from extreme ‘impostor syndrome’, constantly measuring myself against my peers, sincerely believing that they had gotten everything right and I had gotten everything so very wrong.”
She also writes that the “problem... with any practice of self-harm is that once you choose to indulge in it, you get better, more efficient, at it.”
Garbage recently reissued Version 2.0 for its 20th anniversary, which may have prompted the retrospective. Towards the end of the essay, Manson writes that, due to “the rigorous demands of touring and an understanding that cutting myself was not something I really wanted to get back into”, she resisted the compulsion to return to it. “Today I try to remain vigilant against these old thought patterns,” she writes. “I vow to hold my ground. I choose to speak up. I attempt to be kind, not only to myself but also to other people.”