Garbage's Shirley Manson Pens Essay About Self-Harm

By Maggie Ethridge 07/06/18

“Today I try to remain vigilant against these old thought patterns. I vow to hold my ground. I attempt to be kind, not only to myself but also to other people."

Shirley Manson

Shirley Manson has written a vulnerable op-ed for The New York Times, revealing that she began cutting herself as a teenager.

Manson writes that as a rage-filled teenager who had been bullied, had no direction in life, and felt "crushing depression" and the beginnings of alcoholism, she had no outlet for her emotions.

“I didn’t know I was a cutter until the first time I chose to cut. I didn’t even know it was a ‘thing,’” Manson wrote.

After an argument with a boyfriend, Manson took a small, silver knife she had tied to her shoelace and spontaneously cut her arm. She experienced feelings of relief and release from rage.

Manson wrote, “The problem of course with any practice of self-harm is that once you choose to indulge in it, you get better, more efficient, at it. I started to hurt myself more regularly. The cuts got deeper. I hid the scars under my stockings and never breathed a word about it to anyone.”

After a long reprieve from cutting, Manson returned to self-harm when again under incredible stress, this time as a famous musician. She was finally able to work free from the self-destructive act with time, emotional growth, and recognition of what was leading her to cut.

Manson reflects, “Today I try to remain vigilant against these old thought patterns. 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. I surround myself with those who treat me well. I strive to be creative and determine to do things that make me happy. I believe it is not what we look like that is important, but who we are. It is how we choose to move through this bewildering world of ours that truly matters.”

Shirley Manson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. She became famous as the vocalist for the alt-rock band Garbage. Garbage released their self-titled debut album in 1995 which went double platinum, with hits like “Only Happy When It Rains” and “Stupid Girl.”

Manson told Consequence of Sound that Garbage will release a new album in 2019.

On the band’s future U.S. concert schedule, Manson said, “It will be a very limited run. This year is supposed to be us writing our new record, so we loathe to take off too much time. But we understand there’s been a frenzy demand from the fans, so we’re going to try to put on a few dates [in the U.S.].”

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Maggie May Ethridge is the author of Atmospheric Disturbances: Scenes From a Marriage (Shebooks, 2014) and the recently completed novel, Agitate My Heart. She is a freelance writer published in Rolling Stone, VOX, Washington Post, The Guardian and many others. Find her at her blog Flux Capacitor or on LinkedIn or Twitter.