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Garbage’s Shirley Manson Pens Essay on Overcoming Self-Harm

As Garbage celebrate the 20th anniversary reissue and upcoming tour for their 1998 album Version 2.0, bandleader Shirley Manson has penned a poignant essay for the New York Times about how overcoming a struggle with self-harm as a teenager has shaped her as an adult. “I had never heard the phrase ‘self-harm’ back then, in the mid-80s in Scotland,” she writes. “There were no support groups for people like me or any progressive, sympathetic op-ed pieces about the practice of cutting in my local newspaper.” Feeling isolated, in an unhealthy relationship, and “mad with rage,” she writes, at the time “it was a natural, practical step to turn that rage inward, toward myself.”

The urge resurfaced later in life, Manson writes, after finding success with Garbage. “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 writes. “Mercifully, most likely because of the rigorous demands of touring and an understanding that cutting myself was not something I really wanted to get back into, I managed to resist the compulsion to harm myself again.”

Manson ends on an uplifting note, saying she’s learned that holding tight to her personal values and speaking out for what she believes can help her to “remain vigilant against these old thought patterns.” Read Shirley Manson’s full essay here, and if you or someone you know are also struggling with self-harm, reach out to S.A.F.E. Alternatives at 1-800-DONTCUT or visit