I’m very thankful for the success of this blog and all the views, followers, likes, and comments I have received. I plan on continuing with my writing for awhile but I thought that I would do an overview of all that I have discussed this year in regards to self-harm. Feel free to click on any of the titles if you wish to read the post in its entirety.
What: Although self-harm has recently gained popularity, it is far from being a brand new phenomenon. Self-harm can be suicidal or non-suicidal, usually used as a coping mechanism. It goes by many names: self-injury, self-mutilation, self-inflicted violence, etc. There are many different modes through which individuals harm themselves. Some of the most common are cutting, burning, and even substance abuse.
Why: Sometimes self-harm results from mental disorders (depression, bipolar, borderline, or other disorders) or trauma. Some common motivations for those who engage in non-suicidal self-harm include but are not limited to: to distract, to feel instead of being emotionally numb, to have a sense of control, to express emotions, to feel better.
Media: The media can have some negative effects on the reputation of self-harm as well as on those who partake in it. Sometimes media representation lumps self-injurers into the category of attention seekers or creates other negative stigmas. Images can be triggering. But media can also be positive. It can allow people to understand self-harm or allow people to share their success stories and maybe inspire others. And you know, this blog and stuff.
Confessing or receiving confessions: It can be difficult to confess your self-harm out of fear that the individual will not understand or may even be disgusted by you. When you have found a trust-worthy person to confess to try to be as comfortable as possible, focus on your emotions as opposed to gory details, and give them time to process. If someone is confessing to you try to remain calm, accept that these are coping techniques, do not make threats about ratting them out, don’t let them dwell on details, and assist them in seeking help.
Alternatives: When the urge to harm persists, some people like to use alternatives. To find the best alternative it may be best to learn what triggers you or your motivation for harm. Different alternatives address different motivations, such as to express emotions, release tension, to sooth, to have control, or simply to feel pain.
Relapses: Unfortunately, many individuals relapse when they are trying to quit. Some are triggered by dramatic events, stress, depression, or loss of hope. Relapsing can be devastating, especially when you have been doing so well with your recovery. It is important not to give up after you slip up. Relapse is very common. How many days you have been self-harm free aren’t nearly as important as how you are growing as an individual and learning better ways to cope.
Cyber-bulling: Bullying can be one trigger for self-harm. Cyber-bullying is one form of bullying that utilizes electronics and has become common. Sometimes it is used in conjunction with in-person physical or verbal bullying, but sometimes it stands alone. Some try to deny that cyber-bullying is a problem by saying that it is easily avoidable or it’s not physical aggression. It can be a problem, however, because it is rampant, can be public, can be anonymous, and people have been greatly affected by it already.
Suicide Prevention: Suicide is a tragic end for some individuals who are suffering. It is wrapped up in negative stigmas of being cowardly or selfish, which aren’t helpful for those who want to find help. As a friend it can be important to monitor whether or not someone is being suicidal. If you or someone is feeling suicidal, please call a suicide hotline such as 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or any local hotline. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a loved one or see a counselor.
Living with Scars: Some individuals who have self-harmed have physical scars. Some may chose to cover them up to feel more comfortable. Others may wish to show their scars and not be ashamed of their past. Either option is completely fine but be aware that others may be suspicious. It is also important to let your scars heal. Your scars do not define you.
Feeling like a hypocrite: It can be difficult to encourage others not to self-harm when you harm yourself. Some may think you are a hypocrite and reject your advice or you may think this yourself. However, you advice may be important because you may be able to relate and perhaps help each other.
Romanticizing: One issue with self-harm is its depiction as something beautiful or artistic. Some may take pictures or write poetry in an effort to make the act seem romantic. This can be troubling in that it perpetrates the idea that self-harm is ok and can make it even more difficult to quit. You can be beautiful with your scars but self-harm itself is never beautiful.
Privilege: One negative stigma against depression is that some people’s lives are “too good” to warrant depression. Environment can have an impact on mood, however, just because someone has it worse does not mean that the situations of everyone else can be ignored. Sometimes depression is solely biochemical, so a “good life” wouldn’t do much. Furthermore, no one should be depressed. Everyone deserves help if they need it.
Fear of annoying others: When our troubles don’t fade away it can feel like we may annoy those we confide in. To avoid frustrating others it may be helpful to find someone as understanding as possible, be specific, make an effort to fix your problems, and if this individual is not a psychologist then don’t treat them as one. If someone is confiding in you remember that they aren’t trying to frustrate you, try not to dismiss their pain, and remember that you aren’t a therapist.
Sexual assault: Some individuals turn to self-harm due to the trauma of being sexually abused. Sexual assault can happen to anyone and often leaves long-term distress in the form of mental health or relationship problems. If someone you know has been sexually assaulted or is confiding in you remember not to criticize them for situations they were in, give them space to open up when they feel comfortable, be careful with physical contact, and reassure them that their assault isn’t their fault.
Thank you for reading and I hope to have new content soon!