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My body tells a story of addiction, pain and turmoil.
Scars tattoo my body as a result of years of self harm. Cutting was my first choice but I did use other methods:
3. Chemical Burns
4. Hair Pulling
These are just some examples of ways people can self harm. Self harm is an act to cause harm to your body WITHOUT the intent of killing yourself. Many people think that self harm is a failed suicide act when it is actually an act to allow one to continue living and cope with feelings that can lead them to feeling suicidal.
Another myth is that self harm is attention seeking. But this is very rarely the case. Most self harmers' will hide their injuries, and go to great lengths to do so. If someone wants attention then why would they hide it? If someone does make their injuries public do not view it as attention seeking and view it as a cry for help. If people want to get your attention then they obviously need some help.
When describing self harm to people I have always likened it to smoking or drinking to make it more assessable from people to understand. If you are stressed people often will NEED to have a drink or a cigarette or chocolate. It is a way to cope with that stress. You crave something, and for some people that can be to hurt themselves.
People have said that self harm can act as:
1. A release
2. A distraction
3. A way to feel (common for people feel numb)
4. To check you are alive
The act of harming yourself can release endorphins, thus the feeling of release. However like many things, to get the effect you want you have to do more and more until the main issue becomes the self harm itself - like alcohol or cigarettes.
Many people who self harm have underlying issues which they must deal with before being able to tackle the self harm. This can be a range of situations like abuse, bullying, stress, anxiety, rape, pearly developing psychosis, depression, mood disorders, and many other precursors.
When I was at school it was very difficult to get good information about self injury on the internet, through books and from my GP. However the situation has changed slightly. There is a lot more accurate information out there that takes a sympathetic understanding of self harm. Schools, GP's and many others now know about self harm. There is more research into the subject and more focused therapies around.
Look for information on valued websites and companies to do with health and mental health for accurate information.
This is just a short introduction to self injury.
It has saved my life but also marked me with pain that I can never forget.
Self harm can sometimes be the thing to save someone when they have no other coping mechanism is available to them.
This is a mix of two articles which I believe that this is what the average Joe needs to hear more than what I had originally written. Both articles are mine originally to do with as I please
===The Taboo of Self Harm===
I know I'm not the only one who in periods of great stress, anxiety or depression has turned to self harm. I know I'm not the only one who has found great comfort and relief in the knife. I may be in a minority, but it's not as small a minority as some would perhaps think. And whilst the taboos around depression, around alcoholism and even around anorexia have been lifted, self harm is still a completely unacceptable issue. Whilst the others may be secrets which you try to hide for your own reasons, and whilst they may be uncomfortable topics to the outside world they are also illnesses. Alcoholism - an illness. Depression - an illness. Anorexia - an illness. All with treatment schemes, drugs and cures. Self harm - a taboo.
I know I'm not the only one. And I also know that out of all the issues that I might discuss, self harm is the only completely out of bounds issue. Foster care, alcoholics in the family, eating issues can all be discussed with no problem under the right circumstances, and all can without fail be made a joke out of. Self harm - not a chance in hell. It's a topic that makes people run for the hills. It's a topic that nobody knows how to cope with. Even medical professionals struggle with it. A serious suicide attempt they can diagnose and act on, the deliberate long running mutilation of your own body is a different matter. Providing the hand holding the knife has enough experience and knowledge then there is often little risk of actual long term damage. So often, they'll take the easy option; either decide it's attention seeking and thus ignore it, or simply lecture you on your idiocy.
In all honesty, they'd prefer not to know because they don't know how to deal with it, how to treat it, how to help. And this works well for us as often or not we'd prefer not to be seen, prefer not to have to explain. But this only adds to the secrecy, fear and ignorance that surrounds the entire topic of self harm. When we know that if the self harm is found out we'll be ostracised or pitied, then we have double the reason to keep it well covered with excuses and long sleeves.
I know I'm not the only one. And I know how completely alone you can feel when you know that the very action that is keeping you in control is the very action that isolates you. The feeling when you walk into a room with yet another excuse as to how clumsy you are, and you know that even those people who don't believe you won't ask any questions. Because they don't want to know, or they don't know what to say, or simply that they just don't know how to cope. The knowledge that no matter what you do to yourself it will always be invisible because you won't say and they won't ask. And even if they did ask they don't want to her the answer. What they want to hear is the 'I'm ok', whilst you're silently begging them to hear the desperate undercurrents behind the words, to see the silent plea in your eyes.
Whilst both sides of this equation are painstakingly and desperately keeping their eyes down and pretending that the issue doesn't exist then the taboo will never be challenged. The taboo can't be changed when those who self harm are too scared to ask for help even if they want it. But you can't stop being afraid until you feel that you are safe in sharing, that you won't be judged or condemned for opening up. And for that others attitude's have to change; it has to accepted that self harm is an issue that can be approached in a rational, caring and non judgemental manner. It will never be a comfortable topic, but it can't continue to be a taboo.
Each scar just shows that you're strong enough to get through life still standing. Life will always leave marks, it's just some are more obvious than others.
===The Myth of Attention Seeking===
When your assistant director turns to you and says 'I know you self harm as well' you start bricking yourself, because at the end of the day self harm is still a completely taboo topic in today's day and age. In fact it is probably one of the only taboo topics. I have covered before the fact that this is a taboo that needs to be changed and the fact that even those in the medical professional field often seriously struggle with because if you make a serious attempt on your life they know what to do. They can diagnose you with something. But whilst self harm is often a symptom of depression it is not true that all self harmers are depressed nor that all depressed people self harm. But it is also completely untrue to say the majority of self harmers are simply looking for attention.
Because if you were looking for attention why would you go to such lengths to cover it? If you were looking for attention would you bother wearing long sleeves on a boiling summers day or making excuses if anybody accidentally notices? Why on earth would you spend so much time cultivating the persona of being exceptionally clumsy therefore allowing you to get away with the more than the occasional limp or obvious wince? If you were simply looking for attention then you would bring it out into the open, you would talk about it or simply show it off. And it is very, very rare that a self harmer will do that. Maybe a young adolescent who truly is trying in the only way they know how to show that they really need some help, but not anyone who has self harmed for a while. And if that adolescent is desperate enough for help that they will go to those extremes then surely you shouldn't be judging them, you should be helping them.
The only time I will ever let anyone know that I self harm is if I truly believe that I am getting out of control and that very, very rarely happens. When it does I am more than aware of the damage that I will be able to do to myself, and on occasions have been brave enough to approach someone and ask them to take care of my penknife for me. Yes, I said brave. Because it takes one hell of a lot of courage to approach someone and ask for help, and it takes even more to hand over what you have come to see as your only method of control because you know it's going the other way. But more than that, it takes an immense amount of courage to admit that this is a problem and to take the potential judgement that will be coming your way. Because people don't understand. They don't understand, they don't empathise and they don't particularly want to understand because the entire subject makes them uncomfortable. So instead people will judge and you will be isolated as the loner, the freak, the loser.
Why on earth would anyone want that kind of attention? No matter what people might say about self harm, at the end of the day the only thing you are going to get through people finding out is grief. Because they might be understanding the first time, maybe even the second time and if you're lucky the third time. But it won't last. As a teenager nobody wants to be seen around the loser, the freak, the weirdo. As an adult things aren't actually all that different although you have the additional issues of Occupational Health being called on you and the potential loss of a job or livelihood if you aren't lucky enough to be secure. The myth of attention seeking seems to me to simply be a way for people to get around the real issue of self harm; that it's a coping mechanism which means that someone is in a vast amount of pain. That they have in front of them someone who is at the very brink of not coping and has no other way to deal with it. It allows people to ignore the real issues, live safely within their own comfortable worlds and pretend it doesn't exist. It allows people to play the blame game.
At no point can this attitude help someone who is self harming. Not only is it completely untrue but it only adds to the taboo behind self harm and ensures that anyone who does self harm will not feel comfortable in trying to seek help even if they really need it. When you know that every doctor at your local A&E will judge you as an attention seeking idiot and treat you accordingly, are you likely to go and see them? Of course not. When you know that your colleagues may treat you like you have an incurable and contagious disease as soon as they find out, are you likely to share how you're feeling? No. When you know that your friends will either guilt trip you or avoid you, are you going to be able to gain any form of support network? No. And so the myth of attention seeking only gains to further isolate a group who most need support and someone to trust.
I was lucky. The next words out of my assistant director's mouth were 'I understand'. Most people are nowhere near that lucky and could never hope to be in a million years. What most people would get is exactly what I've been used to over the years; the questions that you can't answer, the accusations that just help to pile on the guilt and the knowledge that once again you've lost someone. That you've lost something. Self harm isn't about attention seeking, it's about coping but far too few people would care to understand that.
"Keep on trying harder, because your best's not enough.
Cry all you want, everyone's life is rough
Your sadness is bugging me, your emotions are old
Stop begging for love, my heart's growing cold."
I will start by saying i am 23 and have been very depressed for several years now and have self harmed for the last 2. Now i have tried numerous ways to cope with my depression and none have worked i have been admitted to hospital 8 times in the last 2 years trying to kill myself a fact that some people say is a sign of weakness etc but it is my way of wanting to escape. That being said self harm is not a suicide attempt it is a cry for help and a coping strategy that people tend to judge as a cowardly act. I personally have tried various ways to substitute cutting,burning,starving myself namely squeezing ice-cubes or using a red bingo marker instead of a knife to make it seem like i cut myself. I implore anyone reading this review whether it be for information for yourself or because your worried about someone talking to someone is the best thing you can do before it becomes to late that you become reliant on cutting etc like i have done.
Mine started with bullying at school and i didn't tell anyone because i felt nobody could do anything and if i told it would only get worse that is my first tip here if your getting bullied please tell someone and if you have children and you suspect something talk to them in a friendly way don't keep trying to force them into telling you it will push them away.
After i left school i worked in the care sector which i love quite frankly but there is always a darker side to every job and sadly i have seen that in witnessing numerous incidents of abuse of residents that managers simply refuse to acknowledge because it means paperwork,inspections and other organisations getting involved. Needless to say these incidents aren't the biggest contributor to my depression.
The biggest contributor is my family since my mother lost 7 children when they were very young ( i was the very first) i felt blamed for their deaths my other obviously says she never blamed me but she wouldn't admit otherwise anyway. Then my sister was born when in was 5 and i was shunned and my parents attentions went mostly on her if i got say £10 for my birthday she got the exact same even though it was my birthday day if she said i hit her without being in the room i got a smack for it. This is my second tip please treat all your children with respect and the same don't favor 1 over the other as my parents did. Luckily my grandparents did pay attention to me which helped make me feel loved but sadly that changed when 1 of my granddads died of a brain tumor mixed with ms and my other granddad died of a hemorage because staff in hospital didn't check him ll night when he was in hospital. That devastated me because both of my grandmas closed off in depression which in turn made me very depressed because nobody seemed to love me anymore i felt like a lost cause at just 15 years old and nobody noticed even after i would fly into fits of rage at school. I left school at age 15 which didn't help any but the bullting was getting worse and i thought i would be better off i then get 2 gcse d'd and my nvq 2 in health and social care.
After years of working in the care sector and the few incidents of abuse i witnessed and all the feelings of being unloved came bursting to the top and the self harm got worse and worse and lead to me trying to take my life on numerous occasions. i am seeing a therapist now but am on the sick for the forseeable future which leads to no money which leads to more depression creating a vicious cycle.
That is some of my story but the point is everyone's is different and if you have read this, even just this last line, you might be thinking about someone who showed the signs that i did becoming withdrawn,angry,never smiling anymore and you might be able to help them.
As with all the other reviews on this topic, please be careful reading this is as it can affect you to read about self harm. Be sensible and just close the page if you think you might be affected!
Self harm can come in many forms, but is typically associated with cutting or burning. It can also be classified as taking too many pills, not eating and generally doing anything deliberately with the purpose of hurting yourself. For me, it's been in the form of cutting and not eating. Many people - especially people my age - are quick to brand self harmers as 'attention seekers' and 'emos'. I and many other self harmers are neither and the labels are quite offensive. Just because you don't understand it, doesn't mean you need to throw names around.
I first remember self harming when I was 16, after an argument with my mum. I have no idea why, but after throwing myself around the living room and then stomping off upstairs, the only thing I could think of to calm myself down was to scrape lines into my skin with a pin. I still don't really understand why I did it, and I didn't do it again until about a year later, when I hit a rock bottom point with my AS levels and school in general. At this time I was harming about four times a week; which is quite a lot when you think about it. In the end I managed to get into uni and went away with the idea that I could, and would, get better.
Unfortunately this didn't happen and I soon fell into a cycle of self loathing and hatred. I didn't eat, I slept all the time, I went to about two lectures a week and wandered the night drunk and suicidal. Just before Christmas I ended up in the on campus nurses office at 3am and they sent me to the GP - who I saw once and then never again. Skip to me dropping out of uni and coming home to live for months and I saw an instant reduction in my self harm - but it was always there, under the surface. Over the three years between dropping out and now, I've self harmed countless times, tried to kill myself about 5 and ended up in hospital for other destructive reasons a few times as well. Now it's written down it seems a lot worse somehow :o
I was lucky when I was younger, I got away without a massive amount of scarring. However since returning to uni my self harm habits have also returned and this time my skin isn't taking it lying down. Swimming is an ordeal for me as I have scars on my arms and thighs, and a few on the rest of my body that genuinely aren't self inflicted but still look as if they are because my skin doesn't heal properly any more. I have horrible raised scars from when I tried to kill my self that will *never* go away. I've got used to people staring at me in the supermarket when my scars aren't covered up now. I am very lucky as my scars are localised to areas that generally don't get put on show, but I know other people who have scars up and down their arms and one girl I know has scars all over the backs of her hands.
I've been self harm free since the 13th of March, which is the longest time since I started (bar the year between the initial act and when it really picked up) and it's probably the hardest thing I've ever done. I've had physical fights with people because all I've wanted is a blade and they - quite thankfully - won't let at it. And there are some nights, like yesterday night, when all I can do is turn in early and go to sleep hoping that in the morning I won't want to claw my skin off. I have no doubts that I will relapse at some point but hey, we're all allowed to and once as a coping mechanism is not a problem in my eyes. Anything can trigger me off, but largely it's reading/seeing pictures or people who have self harmed. I find my eyes drawn to sharp objects even now and I can probably tell you where everything in this room that I could self harm with is. Maybe that's my super talent?!
However, on a serious note, if you're suffering from self harm, then see a doctor and get some help. You can get through this, I believe that you can.
I'd like to start this review with a warning. I'm going to talk very candidly in this review, I won't shy away from difficult subjects or hard times in my life so if this is likely to bother you please stop here.
This is still a very sore subject for me but one I feel strongly about and one with a lot of stigma which I believe can only be removed by open and honest discussions such as this.
I don't remember how old I was when I started self-harming and I don't remember what was going through my head at the time. I'm not sure anything was except desperation.
I was mercilessly bullied at school and at one point even raped. When I eventually turned to a teacher I was told that it was "because of me". I will never forget those words. There was no explanation, no further action, nothing. At the same time I was having problems at home. I have always been the most sensitive out of me and my brother so to try and "cure" me of this my parents and grandparents would tease me to the point of tears then laugh and ridicule me for being "too sensitive".
Throughout my childhood and early adulthood I was diagnosed with several mental health problems, some of which I still suffer with now. I did however have one member of the family I could turn to - my cousin. One day though, I was texting back and forth with her and she replied that I needed to "pull myself together and get over it" if only it were that easy!
I don't blame her, I was hard to deal with and I'm happy to admit that I still can be when I'm having a bad few days. Anyway, at some point throughout all of that I began self-harming. Initially with scissors or whatever else was nearby at the time but it wasn't long before I moved on to razors.
I did it because I needed to feel the release. I once heard someone say they self-harm because then there's a "reason" to hurt and I can really relate to that. If I'm bleeding or have a fresh cut there's a "reason" to feel pain, also it's easier to feel physical pain then emotional. I didn't start because I wanted to die (although I have been suicidal at various points throughout my life) I started because I was trying to SAVE my own life.
Was it the best way to cope? No, but it did take the edge off it and it did keep me alive. The problem then was that it became the only way I knew how to cope. I knew that when I self-harmed I'd feel better for a few minutes. It became the answer to everything, I was hurting therefore I needed to stop and the only way I knew how to stop was to self-harm. It's a vicious cycle. Of course the guilt and shame would follow soon after I had self-harmed and I'd spend countless summers in sweltering heat wearing a long sleeved top just to try and hide my scars. Even now I'll favour long sleeved tops over shorter ones to hide the scars from my self-harm.
How to overcome it is trickier. I'm not going to sit here and say it's easy because it's not I last self-harmed 6 months ago but it was two years before that time. I still think about it even now and still want to some times. I don't know if that will ever really go away - the urges do get less though and do get easier to manage. I used to self-harm at least twice a day and it took years of therapy and medications to stop that. It's not something you'll be able to stop on your own nor should you in my opinion as you self-harm for a reason and without therapy to uncover that reason and either treat it or find healthier ways to cope depending on the problem then you could just end up replacing one unhealthy coping mechanism with another.
I started self harming at 11 when I was being bullied at school. There are many forms of self harm but I mainly scratched myself til it bled or cut myself. I honestly cannot remember what was going through my head when I did for the 1st time but I do remember it was a huge release and for just a moment it all went away, all I could think about was the pain and my problems flowing away through the blood.
I'm 23 now and I stopped self harming 3 years ago after I split up from an abusive ex boyfriend. It wasn't easy and sometimes I do think about it when I start to get stressed or down but I realised its not the answer to your problems it's part of the problem itself and it only makes things worse after you've done it not to mention the fact you go to great lengths to hide it.
I think my only advice to someone who is thinking about it is don't do it which believe you me it's easier said than done. Go and talk to someone when I was being bullied which lasted for 5 years at school the thing I was most scared of was if I told someone it would get worse and this was the only way I could cope, that's not true it's best thing you can do, speak to someone before you have the scars to remind yourself of what you did.
I also find positive thinking is an effective tool to cope as well, it sounds silly but whenever I feel down or upset I write a list of all the good things in my life and all the bad things too. Most of the time the good outweighs the bad.
Self harm is such a sensitive and taboo subject and one I'm all too familiar with. Self harmers are often misunderstood and even ridiculed.
I began self-harming at 12. Such a young and delicate age, bordering adolescense, going through some major changes in my life, inside my body and out. I was a difficult child due to an undiagnosed mental helth condition, later it turned out I had a very early onset of bipolar, but this wasn't know until I reached 20. It wasn't until 13 that it really began to take hold.
I was at boarding school at the time. A place for teenagers who had emotional needs. It wasn't a nice place, to be honest. It often mirrored a prison.
Self-harm took hold of my life. I began to hurt my arms with anything that was sharp enough.
Soon, I was kicked out of the school as they feared for my safety.
You don't need to know my whole life story, but this is how it began, and soon it was out of control. I managed to stop when I was 17, only having one relapse since.
I've been left with some very deep and noticeable scars on both arms. But I'm not embarrassed of them. I don't hide them away and I know that makes people uncomfortable. I'm not proud of them, I don't like them, but they're there. And they're not going to go away any time soon.
These scars are a part of who I am. In a way, they've made me who I am. I didn't do this to myself for attention, I didn't do this because of some "emo" culture. At the time, it felt like it was the only option I had. It's hard for people who don't self harm to understand.
I used feel a lot of pain. A lot of raw, emotional hurt that sometimes knocked me for six. That would literally take my breath away and make it difficult to breathe. That would make my chest feel like it was being ripped apart. The kind of emotional hurt that would turn psychical. The kind where you mind is screaming at you and all logic and sense is lost.
I used to feel it a lot, and I was an emotional mess through my teenage years. I had very horrible things happen to me while growing up which caused to early onset of my bipolar at 9 years old.
Self harm gave me a temporary escape from that. It gave me the opportunity to escape from that pain for a few seconds. People who harm themselves often say it doesn't hurt. And it doesn't. Because the pain you were feeling a few seconds earlier was so much worse and the new psychical pain had brought your mind some relief, a new sense of panic. An immediate problem that forces that hurt away for a while. Self harm gives the mind something else to focus on. An injury to your body is enough to release certain chemicals and endorphins and suddenly, whatever was hurting you becomes secondary and your brain tries to work out how badly you're injured. And those chemicals can become extremely addictive.
It's not easy to stop self-harming. It's addictive, its degrading, and feeling like a sharp object is the only thing that will ever make you feel better is the lonliest time of your life. But it does get better and you can overcome it.
It's not easy and it hurts. It's like saying goodbye to your safety net.
In a way, I'm proud of having this experience, because I now help people overcome their self-harm addictions. I give advice and help to those who ask for it on several website.
And if you're a self harmer yourself, seeking advice and help because you want to stop, or find the courage and strength to stop, this next bit is for you.
I think it's best to take your time and wait until you're ready. I guess it also helps to find something else to focus your energy into when you feel sad. A close friend of mine had recently stopped, she did pretty much the same thing I did, which was to literally take it one day at a time, which sounds like really crap advice now I've typed it out. But it's the same for when I quit smoking, I only looked at the short-term picture. Stop harming for just one day. And then maybe another. And another.
Relapsing doesn't make you a failure, or mean you're not strong enough, it just means it got too much and you stumbled for a moment.
Finding your triggers help. Seeing self-harm - on myself or other people - was a trigger for me. And evenings were always difficult. So I used to do something different to avoid the situation. I never used to visit the same websites I did before, I ask people to warn me of trigger warnings, most people are happy to comply.
Being around friends really helps too. It's not easy to hurt yourself around people who love and care for you. Even if the emotional aspect don't help, you won't just be able to harm yourself in front of your friends.
Always have something to look forward to. This is what gets me through these days. I still have really horrible days where I just want to pack it all in, but having something to focus on always helps. Going to a gig, going to see friends, going to the cinema, going on a weekend break. Anything that is suitable to you and you'll look forward to. It's easier to have hope when you have something to look forward to.
Rewards help. A friend of mine was really struggling a few months ago after going a week without harming. And I told her if she could make it just a few days more, I would get her the t-shirt she really wanted. She struggled but she managed it and she said she felt better afterwards because the t-shirt serves as a reminder that she can overcome it when she puts her mind to it. She found something she wanted more than hurting herself and focussed on that instead.
Then there's obvious things like throwing away any self-harm paraphernalia. I'm a complete hypocrite saying that because I kept a razor blade in my room until 18 months after I stopped. I guess I just personally felt better knowing I had it there. And when that urge came, I knew I had it ready and wouldn't panic, only making me worse. I'm on the fence about this one, but if you feel it would help, throw it all away.
I also went to group counselling via my doctor. It sounds stupid and juvenile but having someone tell you "well done" when you've gone a whole week without doing it feels amazing. And the thing is with group counselling is it's not as awkward if you dont want to talk, there's always someone else to fill the silence and give you motivation and tips. It isn't for everyone but there's no harm in trying. If you're not comfortable with your doctor knowing, check online for self-referral groups in your area.
You can find some way of stopping. It won't happen overnight and it's a long hard battle, but I swear there's better things and you won't feel this way forever.
You can do this, positive mental attitude.
Understanding why I self-harmed played a massive role in trying to get control over my self harming. I had self harmed close on ten years in one form or another.....and it was like I was continually going around in a destructive circle that I couldn't break out of.
I did not turn to self-harm because I wanted to; I turned to it because I needed to and I felt compelled to. I needed to hurt myself in order to deal with very painful emotions that I struggled to express in conventional ways and so I felt like I needed to suppress those emotions by having a physical pain to concentrate on instead of the emotional pain. Self-harming allowed me to remain in a state where I could function and survive.
Experiencing physical pain allowed me to dissociate and zone out from the emotional pain and disturbing thoughts and memories. The physical pain associated with self harming allowed me to escape and worked as a distraction to shift the focus. It didn't always last for very long, but when you're tied up remembering something so painful you feel you can't cope, even a momentary distraction can feel worth it.
At times when I felt numb, it also felt strangely comforting to experience feelings of pain - and it kind of reminded me that I was alive.
I'm not going to say that self harming is wrong or bad. That doesn't help. But the cyclical nature of self harm means that once you start, often the behavior escalates - as it did for me. I self harmed because I wanted to feel better, but then the fact that I self harmed made me feel guilty and ashamed - and so I would self harm again in order to feel better about myself. Eventually it felt like the compulsion to self harm took over my life - and that dependence was scary as hell!
How did I break out of the cycle??
Well, it wasn't easy. It took a long time and was a lot of hard work. I had to learn that it was okay to experience "negative" feelings and that it was actually necessary for me to experience those feelings in order to heal. I don't think its something I could have stopped doing without a lot of help....therapy, anxiety medication, learning new coping strategies. There's no quick fix, but I haven't self harmed now in over 2 years and although I have urges to self harm now and again, the intensity of these urges has become more and more manageable as time has gone on.
I have only just found this section despite being on Dooyoo a while now. There have been some moving and honest reviews. It is a very interesting topic to look at and one which will divide people and maybe inspire people too.
Being male I never really talked about how I felt when i was younger and this eventually became an excellent defence mechanism, if not a particularly healthy one. I had what I consider to be a normal upbringing with both parents present which included nice family holidays. I was in school for the whole time in mainstream education with a spell at a private school also.
In my teens I drifted in and out of profound depression with little understanding of what it was and how to understand it. I got to the stage where I would lie on my bed and stare at the wall for literally hours on end with no conscious thoughts passing my mind. I had a period where I could only sleep properly with loud metal music playing because it was comforting.
I don't know how my depression spiraled out of control or even how it first originated. My current psychiatrist thinks I probably had a childhood trauma which I have since blocked out but that it would be counterproductive to go chasing it. I don't when and how but I got into self harm as a way of dealing with how I felt. I made cuts to my arms with razors so I could bleed. I was never into big dramatic gestures of gouging out huge troughs of flesh for all to see, I preferred to be discreet.
I don't think I got what you would call a physical relief from it but it made me better in that I now had a reason to feel bad in the first place. You could say it was forming what would become a vicious circle of self abuse but at the time it was right. I became so depressed that I could not function at all and barely left the house at all having little social contact. It is a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy in that I continued on that path for quite a while. Anyway, whilst hanging out with some acquaintances, mainly disaffected girls, I heard about a medicative regime one person was on. This was the first time it clicked that there could be a medical reason for what was going on.
Bizarrely I ended up on some heavy dose tranquillisers which were obviously no good though my GP thought I had periods of psychosis. For what ever reason I ended up with a different, less helpful GP at a different practice who basically said I had to snap out of it. Needless to say I dropped into a deeper state of depression and started to cut myself more regularly. I usually bisected old scar lines which meant that they were confined to small areas which meant that a) they were discreet and b) they were more prone to scarring.
When people talk about self harm they tend to have ideas about a particular form of self injury which is typically cutting with knives but there are many forms of self abuse. I got into hanging which would make me hurt and near blackout and found it was helpful. I used it a similar way to the cutting and often used them together.
At some point I discovered more socially acceptable forms of abuse that nobody ever questioned. I ate and ate high calorie junk food and sat around doing nothing. Then I discovered the principle of binge and purge. I was able to eat large amounts of food for comfort and then throw it up for punishment. The purging gives a real sense of cleanness but in the end it just became habitual. My weight hovered for a while and then I piled loads on, about 70lbs. I followed this by barely eating anything and purging what i did eat for accelerated weight loss. I knew this was bad for my body but I didn't care. I ended up losing about 85lbs.
This came at a time that I decided to take up smoking. I could smoke all day long and nobody batted an eyelid. I never particularly enjoyed and I never actually seemed to gain a physical dependency. I could go for days without one, smoke several packs over a few days then stop. Which I eventually did, I just decided not to do it anymore. By this time I had tried several types of medication none of which ever worked for me.
I had a couple of years when I was just moderately depressed as the veil just seemed to lift slightly and I went out more. It was not a happy period but there were moments when I forgot about stuff for a while. I was in a relationship and working full time and things were going well. Obviously the relationship didn't last and I became more depressed quite quickly though I continued to work. I reverted to cutting and hanging and was profoundly suicidal but scraped by.
Moving onto another relationship helped but I never really got the right balance of love, work and me. It was more about me. During this time I tried to kill myself and took my first overdose. Two bottles of aspirin washed down with coke in a shopping centre toilet. I ended up walking around town wondering what to do and quite by accident happened to be outside the Samaritans which I didn't know was there. I decided to go in as this was perhaps a sign. I spoke to a lady who was lovely and she ended up getting an ambulance for me. Typically I ended up having my stomach pumped by unsympathetic A&E staff who have better things to do. I had an overnight admission and went to work as normal the next day.
Things were getting no better and I had by now tried over a dozen different combinations of medication. I split up with my partner and switched jobs and things picked up quite well. I ended up getting married to a woman I met a work and had an excellent honeymoon in Sri Lanka, just the place to wind down again. I thought I had turned a corner.
Soon after I plummeted into probably my deepest state of depression. I was cutting myself, vomitting and hanging myself. I tried to hang myself from the loft hatch to end it all but I ended up falling down. I was on an injection by now and taking major tranquillisers again as I was actively suicidal. One day I walked out and went to find the local train line but I ended up walking around in a daze and woke up my settee home again. I had no recollection of what had happened. I had a crisis worker coming to see me everyday to assess my safety and then one morning I got up and sat watching the tv later realising it wasn't turned on. I got to the stage where I physically couldn't self harm because I was almost catatonic with depression and prescription drugs. Shortly after I had two informal hospital admissions. I think one was only three days and the other just over a week. I was crawling the walls and just by a whisker avoided being detained under the mental health act after my wife begged the consultant to let me home. She was a psychiatric nurse and I had regular support from crisis and a week psych appointment. If I hadn't had such a good psychiatrist I don't think I would have made it out of hospital. I spent a long time building myself back up and it was a hard process. I was off work fully for nine months and left on medical grounds. It was seven years later before I was well enough to go back to work.
I still suffer from depression but have a better grip on things these days. I have a diagnosis of Ultra Rapid Cycling Mood Disorder. Usually this causes the sufferers mood to swing violently many times a day. In my case it can happen in a time frame of seconds. I take a sustained release mood stabiliser drug which I am going to be realistically taking all my life. I also take a triple dose of prozac every morning for depression and the component of my illness that is based in OCD. I also have Tourettes Syndrome which means I blink a lot and can say some bizarre and occassionally inappropriate things.
I still work full time and have been married for eleven years now which is a miracle as I'm not the easiest person to live with as you can probably imagine.
During the last few years I have had some wobbles and always will. I have self harmed from time to time and gone through periods of purging but it is much less frequent.
For those of you who are self harming you may be under a lot of pressure to stop or seek professional help but ultimately it is you who has the choice. I had psychotherapy and CBT and both were useful but it fell down in the end to the right medication and trying my hardest to get on. I know many won't agree but I do believe that self harming is a valid coping mechanism for times of emotional distress, it is just not a permanent solution. And in there lies the message really.
If you absolutely must self harm then do it. If it is between that and suicide do it. But it is in no way a path to better health or some sort of spiritual enlightenment. Self harm is by it's very nature destructive and becomes so routine that it ultimately fails to provide any relief and is just a habit. Get help when you feel able. x
I wanted to weigh in on this discussion because I consider myself 'recovered' and wanted to let people know that it is possible. I guess I will tell you a bit of my story and then how I managed to stop.
So i began self harming when I was around 14 due to bullying and deaths in the family. When I reached 15/16 is when I first sought help, I saw a school counsellor which I'm sad to say did little to help. The self harming continued on and off until I reached 17, when it came back with a vengence. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and I became incredibly depressed and suicidal. I ended up being admitted to a young peoples inpatient ward, which I feel was the big turning point for me. I was lucky because I was admitted to a private hospital, The Priory; my place was funded by the NHS due to the lack of inpatient adolescent facilities in my area.
Whilst inpatient I received some excellent Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and a slightly newer group therapy program called Dialectical Behavioural Therapy. DBT was developed to treat patients with borderling personality disorder, however it has been found useful for patients struggling with suicidality and self harming. By identifying the big triggers and the cycles which led up to self harming, as well as my suicidal thoughts, it became easier to change the cycle. I am horribly aware that what I am writing may seem very cliche, but it's really worked for me. I think that by breaking down the process it is much less overwhelming. When I used to try to stop self harming, it would seem like this big impossible task because I literally couldn't cope without it, but once you learn to break it down it becomes more managable.
Since I began university I have only self harmed once or twice in my first year and I have been able to put myself back on track. I haven't self harmed now for my entire second year plus the summer holidays.
I have left out a lot of the more personal parts of my story, so I hope that this doesn't read as too cold and unfeeling. If anyone wants to chat I am happy to respond to messages.
Thanks for reading, I will post some links to websites below.
Info on DBT:
Info on CBT:
Self harm has a variety of definitions wikpedia defines it as a deliberate infliction of tissue damage or alteration to oneself without suicidal intent . I have been a self harmer since I was nine years old and only stopped when I was pregnant so have twenty six years experience of self harm.
This is my personal experience.
I do remember the first time I self harmed. I was nine years old and stood in the Kitchen drying the dishes when I had a carving knife and felt an urge to carve my arm open it felt the most natural thing in the world and it did give me a great feeling of calm. It felt a very private thing more than a secret. I self harmed occasionally throughout my childhood sometimes cutting and sometimes I would just walk down the street and drag my knuckles against the wall to graze them. I used to punch myself as well but this was more about self hatred.
My self harm tailed off as a young teenager lot when I discovered alcohol and cigarettes when things got difficult I just had a bit of a binge.
My self harm returned as I got older and started having flashbacks about my childhood. I started cutting with razors, and getting very drunk to block out these memories. This would work for about six months and then the cycle would return.
When I turned twenty five I cut contact with my parents as I was a student nurse and receiving abusive letters from them and I couldn't deal with it and study. Without them in my life I found that I couldn't repress my memories any longer and started self harming on a regular basis. As I was training as a nurse so had to hide cuts so cut right at the top of my shoulder so it could be hidden under my uniform
At this point I started paying for private therapy as I felt I couldn't cope but looking back I spent a lot of money achieving nothing in fact myself harm increased. I was regularly taking razors apart and each time the cuts were getting deeper and deeper. I did qualify as learning disability a nurse got a morgage better car but inside I felt dreadful I would go to work and could focus on my job and loved it was happy for the whole of the shift but then I would drive home and my head would fill with thoughts and memories I didn't want. I would cut myself in order to rest my mind and get a good night sleep.
The first time I went to hospital for stitches I was very scared how the staff would respond so actually phoned a friend to come with me. I can say they were very professional and am grateful I wasn't treated like a freak.
Self harm was a bit like an addiction that I needed to cut deeper and deeper to get the same feeling of calm. One common misunderstanding is that it is about feeling pain. When I self harmed my body was numb and I didn't feel a thing. In fact a nurse once forgot the local aesthetic (accidentally so he said) when stitching me up and I never noticed. I found watching the blood flowing out of my body so calming it felt like a way of cleansing myself. There were a lot of rituals involved and I am not sure why but it all made sense to me.
I regularly attended A&E and in fact knew all the night staff and can say although I have heard many stories of people been treated badly I never was although I was once told by a doctor that I was adding to world suffering. They would contact the mental health crisis team who would usually phone me up and tell me that there was nothing they could do so I would ask the hospital not to contact them as the often disturbed what was a restful sleep. If I had been treated badly it would not of changed whether I self harmed it would just of changed whether I got treatment for it.
Another common misconception is that it is for attention but if I could steri-strip my cuts I would and went to great lengths to hide it from everyone if I could. I also tried other ways of cleansing myself I used to drink Detol and Carex and it helped me feel that my brain was been cleansed.
One night I cut my wrist, it wasn't an attempt to kill myself I was searching for veins and wanted to bleed as much as possible. I went to work the next day with my wrist bandaged up with hindsight this was a serious mistake and I was suspended. This was devastating to me. It meant my escape from my life had gone. That night I felt so bad I cut through a vein and had to call and ambulance as I passed out in the bathroom and then again at the top of the stairs. I was taken to hospital and passed out again in the ambulance. I was put in a cubicle but after they couldn't actually get a blood pressure reading I was moved to resus. At the time I thought it was that I was been moved out of the way but I now realise it was because I was so close to dying. I had to be given a blood transfusion and had to have my vein tied off. I had to stay in hospital and then needed to be prescribed iron tablets as I was anaemic.
I saw a member of the mental health team while I was in hospital He invited me to attend a self help group for self harmers which I thought was a great idea but when I nervously attended I found out that I was the only person who was there so felt even more isolated.
I went to see my GP not long after that feeling very out of control and fearing I was going to kill myself with self harm and he sent me to the local psychiatric hospital for the assessment but the Psychiatrist I met was very unsympathetic and made me feel worse.
I did return to work but when I did I was moved to another ward where I would have more supervision but eventually returned to my job in a community home.
My mental health continued to deteriorate and eventually led to a genuine suicide attempt
This led to me ending up in intensive care but pulled through.
I was given various types of psychotherapy to help. I was told by a psychologist that I needed to understand my self harm before I would ever stop and he was right.
The one thing that dramatically reduced my self harm was a technique called one mindfulness which involves actually concentrating on what you are doing, what you are thinking, not judging or wrapping it up in guilt. When I started understanding at times I was angry at other people it wasn't going to resolve anything and stopped hurting myself but continued when I was angry with myself.
I finally stopped when I found out that I was pregnant and I feared that he would get the chemical buzz I got and when he is older would be searching for the buzz. This was reinforced when I went for a blood test and as the needle went in he kicked and squirmed around for about ten seconds.
I do occasionally get urges to self harm but I try and understand what is going on in my head. I do believe that I won't self harm again although it will always remain on my list of coping mechanisms and will remian badly scarred.
My advice to anyone who self harms is to seek help you aren't necessarily going to be badly treated as you may fear but if it isn't helping seek out further help.
As a self harmer of around 7 years, this is a very important subject to me. Now, soon to be 18, it worries me that I started self harming so young, at just 11 years old.
I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. The strangest thing is that, I don't know how it began. I don't recall waking up one morning thinking that today I was going to cut myself... It almost seems like there was no thought process behind it, it just happened. People writing about this sometimes make me angry, because many people try and judge it, when they can't. In a way, it's just like smoking or drinking too much - you're damaging your body. The fact is, the damage is just more immediate, and more painful at times. However, I don't aim to judge this, or even justify myself - just to talk about it, and explain that not everyone hurts themselves for attention.
The first time I cut myself, I was 11 years old. I was in the middle of my first year in 'senior school' and had settled down nicely. I don't know what happened. I was a happy, childish 11 year old, content with life and how things were, and I don't know why that changed. I don't even remember the first time I did it, I don't remember what I was thinking, or anything about it. I just remember it hurting, and I felt a bit better, because I felt like I'd punished myself. At around the same time, I dabbled in eating disorders and things as well. To be honest, I thought I'd get out of it.
I was too happy to be a 'proper' self harmer, and I wasn't particularly depressed at the time, so I thought it would go away, but it never did. Within a year of starting to cut myself, my best friend died and so did my Grandfather. What was once a random unnecessary habit became more important, as I pondered what I could have done to prevent either. It was a difficult few months, and I felt like my world had literally been torn apart. I guess from then on, it became more of a habit than anything else, which isn't something I'd proud of. I got into a routine of arguing with people and ending up feeling awful and hurting myself again. The routine got worse, as did things with my parents once they discovered my self harm. I got into a vicious circle with my dad, to do with him hurting me and me hurting myself. It was ridiculous, long and pointless, and didn't help either of us. The worse things got, the more I hurt myself until it became purely habit again. The smallest thing would set me off. I told people in an attempt to have to stop. I thought that if people knew, I would be inclined to stop - but I wasn't. If I worried about what they would say, I wouldn't tell them, but if I needed help with something, they were there. It became a safety net, and gave me an ability to get people to help me at the drop of a hat, and I hated that about myself.
Nowadays, I still can't stop. The fact is, I just don't talk about it. If I need someone, I have a couple of brilliant friends who I can talk to, but I don't tend to. Rubbish things happen, and this is my way of dealing with it. As much as I try not to, it's not that easy. I just learn to be careful, because I know how dangerous it can be. I just wish that would stop me, but I don't have the will power.
What frustrates me the most, is the way self harm is looked upon. According to most people, the only people that cut themselves are "emo's" and all self harmers want are attention. It's not true, and it upsets me so much that people assume it is. I understand the view to an extent, because I'm sure somewhere in a self-harmer's mind, is the idea that when people find out they have hurt themselves, they look after them and give them attention and sympathy - something which is sometimes nice to have when you are depressed. However, hurting yourself for attention doesn't make you any less depressed. In a way, it might be worse. It seems to me, and I mean in my own situation, the idea of having to lie and hurt myself to get people's attention is dangerous... because when will it end? Would there be sometime where I accidentally hurt myself too much, when I don't mean to? I haven't got to that stage yet, and I don't plan to. I've tried almost everything I can think of, but I can't let it go.
It's an easy habit to get into, and a difficult one to stop. My stomach is covered in scars which I can't get rid of, no matter how hard I try - so I just add to them. I've argued with so many people about it, it hurts. People don't understand, but then I suppose I wouldn't get it if I didn't do it. It's a very misunderstood topic, probably because most people can't get their heads around it. The idea of purposefully hurting yourself, just doesn't make sense does it? But it's more common than everyone thinks. I know so many people who have tried it, or have had a serious problem with it. Once my best friend did it, to see what I felt like when I did it. That hurt the most, and made me want to stop more than anything, but I couldn't. Another friend of mine threatened to do it every time I did until I stopped, which also caused me to rethink everything, but he didn't actually mean it, and once again I went back into the routine again. Although I know he was trying to help, it was one of the most unhelpful comments I've ever had about it. It was almost like guilting me to stop what I was doing. Although what infuriated me the most was that he was an ex-self harmer, so he should have known better.
People don't seem to understand that there are so many different reasons for hurting yourself, and they're all as equally valid as each other. There isn't a set reason for doing it, or a set way. Different things can trigger different people, and make them feel like they need to do it. But apart from that, I resent the thought that self harm makes you 'weird.' I understand entirely that it's not something that everyone does, but the idea of it being associated with attention seeking teenagers who can't think of anything better to do makes me feel sick. Like I said earlier, even if the reasoning behind it is attention seeking, it doesn't make it any more or less valid, and doesn't mean people can judge. Negativity like 'how could you do that to yourself?' really doesn't help. It hurts more than anything when family members push you away. Then again, having dealt with other people doing it, I understand why it's frustrating, and how hard it is to suppress any anger you feel. It's such a difficult subject, and I partially understand it from all angles. Unfortunately, I have no solutions.
If you know someone who self harms, don't judge them, don't shout at them or belittle them, and don't make them talk about it. If they want to discuss something they will, but being forced to doesn't help, especially with severe questioning. Just let them know you care, because that's important. Obviously, I'm not an expert on the subject, but these are things that I have found to be true for me. I feel qualified to write about it, after 7 years, but then this is just a personal account and view. Everyone is different.
I just find it important to write about, because I get so frustrated by people misunderstanding self harm.
EDIT: [I meant to add, and only just remembered now, if anybody wants to know anything about Self Harm, or if they know anyone who does it and wants to talk about it, just drop me a message. I'm always happy to try and help if I can, because I know how hard it is. x]