Today, 1st March, is Self Harm Awareness Day. This awareness day is close to my heart as self harm is something that’s been part of my life for a long time. There is a lot that people assume about people who self harm and some of these misconceptions can be broken down on this awareness day. This year I decided to ask some friends, who don’t self harm, for their questions and I’d answer them. I’ve also added in a couple of frequently asked questions that hopefully will break down some of the misconceptions.
What are the best/worst things to say to someone who has self harmed?
The best things to say to someone who self harms is that you love them no matter what and that if they want to talk that you are there to listen. The worst thing to do is get angry and just tell them to stop. This will make them hide what they are doing more. For more things that are unhelpful you can see my blog post here.
How does self harm make someone feel?
This is a complex question and will probably be different for everyone who self harms. Quite often it can feel like a release at the point of harming. This however can develop into a feeling of guilt about succumbing to the urges. There can be many other feelings that come from self harming; anger at themselves, disappointment, and sadness. It often feels very confusing with so many emotions.
One emotion that doesn’t often get mentioned is joy and pride. This can happen when you self harm as you might be pleased with what you’ve done to begin with. This emotion doesn’t often last and it can lead to more self loathing as you know you shouldn’t feel this way about hurting yourself.
What triggers someone to self harm?
There are many things that can trigger someone. Triggers are very individual; what triggers one person may not trigger another, although a few may be pretty universal. Some major triggers can be arguments, images of self harm, stressful situations and past traumas. Sometimes though there can be nothing obvious as a trigger. It can just feel like a build up of emotions that you just need to get out.
What should I do if I suspect someone is self harming?
If you think someone is self harming it can be tricky to know what to say or do. It can however be as simple as saying to them “how are you?” and making them aware you’re there for them. Also asking the question “are you self harming?” is a good idea. It will not make the person start self harming but may help them open up and get the help they need.
Who usually self harms?
There is no usual person that self harms. There is a big misconception that it is something only young people do but that’s not true. I know of people who have been much older before they have self harmed for the first time. It can be anyone from any background that self harms.
What are signs someone is self harming?
There may not be any signs that someone is self harming. Contrary to popular belief most people who self harm do not do it for attention. Some signs that may be seen are covering certain areas of the body (e.g. Covering arms or legs in hot weather), unexplained injuries, being secretive or mood swings.
Thank you to those who gave me the questions, I hope I’ve answered them well enough. If you have any further questions about self harm feel free to ask in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Picture from Pinterest