What is Self Harm, I hear you ask?

Surely it's all about teenage drama queens seeking attention isn't it?


SH is self injury or self harm depending how you prefer to phrase it.

SI can take many forms and no-one is immune from it.

Very young children can be self harmers as can teenagers, mums, dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents. Anyone can be a self harmer and no-one would think it strange.

Young children can be self harmers because of abuse or neglect. Teenagers can be self harmers for the same reason or because of low self esteem or strangely enough boredom. Yes, boredom, I have known teenagers become self harmers from sheer boredom, but this is rare.

But... how many ways are there to be a self harmer? Do you know? Have a guess, one, five, 10 what? There are probably dozens of methods of self harm, ranging from cutting, (pretty obvious that one eh?), banging, (banging head or other body parts against walls etc), scratching, (with fingernails or other objects). That was just three obvious methods of self harm or self injury. How many of the not so obvious methods do you know?

Here are a few:

1: Alcoholism, or excessive and regular drinking.
2: Drug misuse, prescription drugs or illegal drugs.
3: Undereating, (Anorexia Nervosa)
4: Vomiting, (Bulimia)
5: Neglect, (failing to care for oneself i.e. not bathing often, not eating properly, not caring to socialize etc.)
6: Overwork, (sometimes people use work to hide from their emotional problems.
7: Underwork, (hiding at home from problems at work)

How many can you come up with?

Did you know that 2 out of 3 people are self harmers in some way?

Think about your family or friends, think about excuses made to hide bruises or cuts or excessive drinking etc and ask yourself, is there a problem? Are they self harmers? What can I do to help? Will they talk to me? Will I be willing to listen?

Nearly fifty percent of sufferers report physical and or sexual abuse during his or her child. Many report that they were discouraged from expressing emotions, particularly, anger and sadness.

Many who self-harm used multiple methods. Cutting/scratching arms or legs is the most common practice. Self injurers may attempt to conceal the resultant scarring with clothing, and if discovered, often make excuses as to how an injury happened. The most common excuse is "The cat scratched me". A significant number are also struggling with eating disorders and alcohol or substance abuse problems. And estimated one half to two-thirds of self injurers have an eating disorder.

Self-injurers commonly report that they feel empty inside, over or under stimulated, unable to express their feelings, lonely, not understood by others and fearful of intimate relationships and adult responsibilities. Self injury is their way to cope with or relieve painful or hard- to- express feelings and is generally not a suicide attempt. But relief is temporary, and a self-destructive cycle often develops without proper treatment.

Self - injurers often become desperate about their lack of self-control and the addictive-like nature of their acts, which may lead them to true suicide attempts. The self -injury behaviours may also cause more harm than intended, which could result in medical complications or death. Eating disorders and alcohol or substance abuse intensify the threats to the individual's overall health and quality of life.

Self-harm behavior can sometimes be a symptom of several psychiatric illness: Personality Disorders (esp.Borderline Personality Disorder); Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression); Major Depression; Anxiety Disorders; as well as psychoses such as Schizophrenia. But not necessarily.

Professional self-injury treatment options include outpatient therapy, partial (6-12 hours a day) and inpatient hospitalization. When the behaviours interfere with daily living, such as employment, school and relationships, and or are health or life-threatening, a specialized self injury hospital program with experienced staff is recommended.

Some self harmers find their own help without going to professionals. Smetimes it is difficult to find an understanding and sympathetic professional.

There are many self help groups in the community and on the Internet. Simply type in SI and see what comes up. You may have to search through a few sites before you find one that suits you but it is worth the effort.

Families and friends can be very supportive in times of stress, but it may be difficult for them to understand what you are going through. Give them a chance, try and teach them. Ask for their help.

There is no cure, yes there are treatments, there is therapy and anti-depressants but there is no cure. There is no magical pill for this problem. It is not an illness, it is a way of thinking, a way of coping, for that is what self harm is, a coping method.

When they are stressed, upset, angry, sad, whatever, they do not react like so-called normal folk do. They don't know how.

When a child is born, he has no filters against the outside world. He doesn't know how to deal with it, this is something he learns. As the child grows he learns to filter the feelings that overwhelm him, the pain of falling down becomes less painful as time goes by.

The pain of mommy shouting, or daddy swearing etc, doesn't cause quite the same feeling of fear. Those who harm themselves grow thicker skins to deal with the world right? They are overwhelmed by feelings that would be considered normal.

There are many reasons why someone would self harm here are a few:

1: Anger, that cannot be expressed so is turned inward.
2: Deep sadness that also cannot be expressed, the sadness may or may not have a cause.
3: Feelings of unworthiness, {i}I'm useless so I should suffer{/i}.
4: Feels guilty, everything is their (the self harmers) fault so they should suffer.
5: To deflect from the inner pain they create a real physical pain.
6: Stress and pressure builds up inside, much like raised blood pressure, as if the head is going to burst. Cutting relieves that pressure. Rather like bloodletting in medieval times.
7: Feeling empty, cutting eases the emptiness for some reason.
8: Boredom, it starts as simple scratching but then it goes further and they become addicted to it. Remember how as a child you had scabby knees? You always picked the scabs and made it bleed again. Sometimes cutting is like that too.

In some cases, therapy is extremely helpful, in others as in mine the problem is too deep seated to be dealt with. it causes too much pain to delve into the past.

But all is not lost, the cause is not hopeless. It is possible to stop self harming, to recover, it is not easy. Life will be one long struggle but....

The fight is worth it.

Isn't it?

Learn More Here


American Self-Harm Information Clearinghouse

Selfhelp Magazine

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