Category Archives: Self Harm

Self Harm Awareness Day 2019: Q & A

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.

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Why I Keep Self Harming

This is a personal piece. Please be aware the content may be triggering. I do not promote self harm in any way. If you are struggling with self harm please get support from a medical professional. This is just a look into the mind of someone who self harms.

Self harm has been a big part of my life for the last 16 years. That’s over half my life. I’ve been harming longer than I haven’t. People often wonder why I continue to use this as my main coping strategy. So here I thought I would share some reasons why self harm is still in my life. This is not me saying self harm is a good thing. This is me explaining why it is hard to stop. Currently I wish I could stop as I’m in agony but my mind won’t let me.

1. It’s an addiction

Now some may argue with me on this point but to me self harm is an addiction. I find myself craving the time until I can hurt myself. Sometimes it is all I can think about. And the feeling I get when I’ve done it is so satisfying to begin with. Also when you feel pain your body releases endorphins. This makes you feel better and is why you crave it more.

2. It’s a release

To me self harm feels like a release. All the pain and anger can be let out. To me this feels a safer way of getting everything out. I don’t feel like I’m hurting anyone (but myself) so it is safer for everyone. Although this probably isn’t true. My mind however convinces me it is.

3. It helps me feel in control

For me the world is a very scary place and for me to deal with it I have to feel in control. Everything has to be planned. The problem though is that people and events are unpredictable. This leaves me feeling out of control. So to gain back the control I self harm. It calms down everything in my mind. The problem is that the more I think I’m in control I’m actually more out of control. In fact the self harm is in control of me.

4. It’s dependable

Self harm is always there for me. At any time. I think I’m quite a needy person so I need something that won’t let me down or be too busy. I feel I can rely on it to help me deal with the bad thoughts and the voice I hear. I try and use other coping strategies but these fail me at times. I’m not promoting self harm here. I know it is an unhealthy coping strategy. I would never suggest someone use self harm as a coping strategy.

5. I feel I need to be punished

I have felt like a bad person for a long time, since I was a small child. A lot of this stems from things in my past. Therefore I feel I should be punished and self harm meets the criteria. Hurting myself feels the right thing to do. I know realistically that’s not the case but in my mind that’s how it works.

So that is a few reasons I’m finding stopping self harm so difficult. I want to state again that I don’t believe anyone should self harm. You deserve better than to harm. If you want more information on self harm check out the Mind website. Feel free to comment here or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Mental Illness Competition

This is a personal piece. Please be aware that some content may be triggering.

This will be controversial but it has come to my attention that having a mental illness feels at times like a competition as to who has it worst. We find ourselves comparing how we are suffering to those who are also struggling.

I’m guilty of this too. As someone who self harms I find myself comparing my degree of self harm to others. I feel I should be harming worse than I am. I aspire to hurt more. I find myself looking at images of self harm and wondering if I’m capable of hurting that bad. And I hate myself for this.

Mental illness should not be a competition. It is that simple. But try telling that to my brain. I am constantly comparing myself to others. I know I shouldn’t. But I don’t think I’m alone in this. It’s nature to compare ourselves to make ourselves better but what about when we’re making ourselves worse? Surely that can’t be right.

I think some of the issue here is with the requirements by mental health services to get help. It feels like you have to be at breaking point to get any help. If you have an eating disorder, for example, your weight has to be at certain low level before any intervention happens. For me the issue came when my self harm was said to be superficial and my suicide attempt was classified as “not serious”. This made me feel I had to harm worse and try harder to die. That noone was taking my distress seriously. This needs to change.

There needs to be a major overhaul of mental health services. Everyone who self harms, attempts suicide, has an eating disorder or any other sign of mental illness, needs to be taken seriously. Mental illness is not a competition and shouldn’t be encouraged as one by mental health services.

If you find yourself comparing yourself to others or trying to get worse to get help, please don’t feel bad about it. Unfortunately this in itself is a part of mental illness. It makes you try to get worse. It’s how it survives and takes an awful lot of work to fight. But you can fight it. I have faith in you even if you don’t. (By the way I’m not talking of full recovery but just being able to live with mental illness in someway as I know recovery for some people is just not possible).

If you would like to share your thoughts on this please feel free to use the comments, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Please be respectful to others.

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What Not To Say: Self Harm

Please be aware this post discusses self harm and therfore some of the content may be triggering.

Self harm is still a taboo subject and is often met with stigma,even from health professionals, who don’t understand what it’s like to deal with. Therefore I thought I’d put together a quick guide to things not to say to someone who self harms.

1. “You’re attention seeking”

Most people who self harm don’t want the attention. We often hide what we are doing much to the detriment of our mental and physical health. In fact there are easier ways to get attention than to self harm. Self harm is often a very secretive act and this can cause us trouble when we hurt ourselves to much. If this happens we’re often scared to get the health care that we need due to the stigma surrounding this subject. Also if someone is self harming for attention they still deserve your help and care. They obviously need that attention for some reason so it should not be dismissed.

2. “You know you’ll have scars for life”

Yes we know this. But at the moment our emotional pain is too much to deal with and we don’t care about the future at this moment in time. We also don’t need the judgements that you are placing on us. We often feel bad enough already without this comment.

3. “If you want to die why don’t you just do it?”

Self harm is often not a suicide attempt. Yes some people who self harm do want to die but often self harm is a way of coping with life and trying hard to stay alive. Also telling someone to just die is plain wrong. Why would you encourage someone to die?

4. “Don’t you feel pain?”

This is one that I’ve heard recently. And for me I don’t feel the pain at the time of harming myself. Everyone is different though. And even if a person doesn’t feel pain, pointing it out is not necessary and can be potentially triggering. This is why you shouldn’t say it to a person who self harms. It’s just unhelpful.

5. “Ugh, your scars are horrible”

My scars may look horrible to you but to me they are a symbol of what I’ve been through. Also its really unhelpful to say this as showing our scars is difficult enough. People should not be ashamed to show their scars. It is nothing to be ashamed of.

6. “Why don’t you just stop?”

If it was as easy as just stopping it wouldn’t be the problem it is. Self harm is like an addiction. You come to rely on it even though you know its not particularly helpful and in the long times makes things harder. Self harm becomes like your best friend as its always there for you but you know it’s actually toxic. It is a hard relationship to break down. So saying “why don’t you just stop?” is unhelpful. What we need is support to learn healthier coping strategies.

So that’s a few things not to say to someone who self harms. If you want more information on self harm you can check out the Mind website. If you want to share things not to say to someone then feel free to use the comments, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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I don’t look ill

This is a personal piece. Please be aware that the content may be triggering.

I don’t look ill. But I am. I’m ravaged by mental illness. To look at me you’d think nothing was wrong. I smile. I laugh. I keep going. I say I’m fine. But I’m far from fine.

I don’t look ill. But in my head a voice tells me to die every single day. Sometimes multiple times a day. It tells me that I’m worthless. A mess. Useless. It says I deserve nothing but bad things. It gets louder and louder when I try to drown it out.

I don’t look ill. But my arms are covered in scars and fresh wounds. Self harm is my coping strategy. Self harm is a constant in my life. Self harm has taken over my life.

I don’t look ill. But each day I take medication to help my brain. I take medication to stop me feeling low. I take medication to keep my mood stable. I take medication to stop the voice in my head.

I don’t look ill. But I have tried to end my life on numerous occasions. I have wanted to die. I still want to die. These thoughts pulse through my head everyday. I can’t get rid of them.

I don’t look ill. But that means nothing. You never know what’s going on inside someone. Don’t judge.

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Self Harm: An Insider’s Perspective

This is a personal piece. Please be aware that some content may be triggering.

I’m sat here wanting to self harm. I last self harmed last night and the urge has been building all day. It’s now 7pm. Only 3 more hours until I can give into the urge.

This is my reality. Waiting to self harm. Feeling proud of myself when I harm worse (or do I mean better, who knows) than before. Looking at images that I aspire to. This is my dirty little secret.

I know I should be trying to stop. I’m having therapy and taking medication. But that is just keeping me alive. Self harm feels like it is helping me to live.

Don’t get me wrong. Self harm is a vile parasite. It sucks everything good out of your life. It is something that becomes all consuming. You’re always thinking of when you can next do it. You’re always thinking of how to hide the evidence. You’re always worried someone will take it away if they find out.

So why do I carry on? Because without it I can’t function. Without it everything feels out of control. It helps me relax. But I know it shouldn’t be this way. I know this yet still I can’t help myself. Still I can’t stop myself being pulled into its trap.

So for anyone thinking about self harming please know it’s not worth being pulled into self harm’s web. And if you already self harm, know that you are worth so much more. I’m not going to be a hypocrite though. I know how tough it is to stop.

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An Update

This is a personal piece so please be aware that the content may be triggering.

Recently I have been missing in action because things have been tough. I have been in the midst of a depressive episode. It’s a place I’ve been so many times before yet still it hits me with the force of Thor’s hammer. I am at a loss and unable to motivate myself. Basic things take the biggest effort. I just want to sleep my life away.

I’ve been rocked by suicidal thoughts and have had the suggestion of crisis team involvement mentioned a few times. In the end it is decided they are no use to me and will probably not be able to help me. This makes things worse for me as I feel like noone can help me. I’m a hopeless case. Beyond help. Don’t get me wrong people are trying to help me. My care coordinator is seeing me weekly and has organised a sooner psychiatrist appointment for 6th November. I’m lucky I know but feel far from it.

My main coping mechanism at the moment is mainly through self harm. It is giving me a sense of control and making the voice I hear quieter. I know I should be using other ways of coping but it’s my old faithful and its hard not to go back to it time and time again. I have been trying to use the skills from my therapy but I’m finding that hard too. I feel like a failure.

So anyway that’s a quick update on where I am at the moment and why there is no new blog posts at the moment. I need to take a break. Hopefully it will be short and I’ll be back soon. To keep up to date you can comment or follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.