Newest Review: ... rarely the case. Most self harmers' will hide their injuries, and go to great lengths to do so. If someone wants attention then why wou... more
There is a better way
Member Name: thisisablackout
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.
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