If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you’ll know that I’ve been away in London having a fabulous time with my other half! So, if you’ve been missing me-that’s where I’ve been. Pictures are on my Facebook page if you’d like to have a nose through what I got up to!
Now, back to the topic. The main reason that I started this blog was to distract me from myself and my problems, give myself somewhere that I could write freely and share with you all my illnesses, experiences, feelings. Over time, that has changed because as I have recovered, I have been more eager to try new things to write about, do reviews and travel. Which is great but we musn’t forget the basis of this blog. I am a mental health advocate and enthusiast. And although I may get distracted by shiny things, the grittiness of this blog lies with the shadows of myself. The reason I share the dark parts with you all is for one reason only- to help you. In hope that you can relate, in hope that you can feel a part of something, in hope that you aren’t so lonely anymore. So, without any further distraction, I will share with you my experience self-harming along with some studies I have collected on the topic. I really hope this inspires someone out there to speak out, try recovery or even just get through another day. Because not everyone makes it through their bad days. And although we may not feel it, we are the lucky ones.
First off, I’m gonna share with you guys some information I got off leaflets from my college about self-harm. Some people are lucky in that their college or school will be open to speak about or raise awareness for things like this and some people aren’t. So, let’s begin.
Self-harm is when someone deliberately hurts or injures themselves. This can take a number of forms including: cutting, overdosing, punching oneself, throwing their bodies against something, pulling out hair or eyelashes, scratching, picking or tearing their skin causing sores or scarring, burning, inhaling or sniffing harmful substances, driving dangerously or excessive use and abuse of alcohol and/or drugs.
Some young people self-harm on a regular basis while others just do it once or a few times. A few people that self-harm may go on to complete a suicide, generally this is not what they intend to do. In fact, self-harm can be seen as the ‘opposite’ of suicide as it is often a way of coping rather than giving up.
Young people who self-harm have often had very difficult or painful experiences or relationships. These may include: bullying or discrimination, losing someone close to them such as a parent, brother, sister or friend, lack of love or affection or neglect, physical or sexual abuse, a serious illness that affects the way they feel about themselves. Other young people may start to self-harm as a way of dealing with problems and pressures of everyday life. Low self-esteem can be a huge factor. Peer pressure can occasionally be involved.
Understanding why you self-harm can have a huge influence on your recovery. Stopping is easier if you can find other ways of expressing or coping with your feelings. To do this, you need to understand what makes you do it. It may be useful to think about:
- What was going on in your life when you first began to self-harm
- How you feel just before you harm yourself
- Whether you would find it useful to keep a ‘mood’ diary, writing down your feelings at different times
- Whether you are always in the same place or with a particular person
- If you have any bad memories or thoughts that you can’t tell anyone
Safe alternatives of self-harming are:
- Finding a safe punching bag (like some pillows)
- Putting your hands into a bowl of ice cubes for a short time or rubbing ice on the part of your body you feel like injuring
- Use a lipstick or felt-tip marker to mark your body instead of cutting
- Putting a rubber band on your wrist and flicking it
- Putting plasters on the parts of your body you want to harm
Self-harm can be really hard to stop. It may take time and there are likely to be ups and downs along the way. Sometimes, however try you hard on your own, you just can’t cope with your feelings. If you can’t stop wanting to hurt yourself its best to get help from someone you can trust. This means finding someone who you can talk to about your problems and who can give you practical help.
Useful contacts & organisations are:
- SAMARITANS- 24 hour confidential phone line for people who are in despair and need someone to talk to. Tel: 1850 60 90 90 or email Jo@samaritans.org
- AWARE (DEPRESSION AWARENESS)- operates a helpline service, providing a listening ear for people in distress and their families. Tel: 1890 303 302 (10am-10pm)
- CHILDLINE- offers 24 hour support for children and young people in distress. Tel: 1800 66 66 66
- BODYWHYS- offers support, information and understanding for people with eating disorders, their families and friends. Tel: 1890 200 444 or email email@example.com
Guys, these support systems have been put in place for people that aren’t coping very well. And although you may deem it embarrassing as I once did, sometimes, there just has to be an end to feeling horrible. Sometimes, taking a leap and calling someone, opening up or admitting ‘Yes, I have a problem’ is the only way to get out of your own head and move on to the brighter things that you deserve.
I started self-harming at a very young age. I was twelve the first time that I cut my wrists and I did so because I was being bullied. I did it to punish myself because I believed what the mean people said about me. As mentioned above, it doesn’t have to be a regular thing. And for me, it wasn’t. I didn’t self-harm again until I was fifteen but it only got worse. I realised people could see it on my arms and this made me anxious about it, so I started cutting my legs- thighs and ankles.I have also punched myself, thrown myself, attempted suicide, pulled hair out, pulled eyelashes and eyebrows out, burned myself. BUT, I have also called Samaritans, seen counsellors, been to meetings, hospitals and psychotherapists. Hell, I’m missing college tomorrow to go to see a psychiatrist AND a counsellor. And by looking at me walking down the street, I know that you couldn’t even tell.
I was abusing alcohol, too. And when I got a little bit older again, seventeen-in fact, the two mixed and it did not end well (not that it possibly could). I began drinking heavily and blacking out. This resulted in me waking up covered in blood and cuts but I couldn’t remember how or why. I discovered that in my drunken states I had become upset and been unable to control myself. This happened regularly up until recently (the beginning of summer just gone) and my counsellor then strongly advised me to seriously rethink my alcohol consumption.
I’m on strong enough anti-depressants and to mix them with alcohol can be harmful enough internally, without me going ahead and harming externally, too. So, I have had to cut down drastically on my drinking and going out. At the beginning, it was hard. I was scared of what I might miss. But I actually haven’t missed anything. Weirdly enough, I’ve gained more. I can remember my nights out, I can enjoy looking good and meeting new people. It takes some getting used to but in the long run, I know that it’ll benefit me.
People say that once you talk to someone it fixes it- how you feel about yourself, your life, your situation. I spoke about it when I was twelve. I’m twenty now and I still battle a lot of the time with my feelings, anxieties and moods. If you are unfortunate like me in that you have been plagued with depression, anxiety or OCD, nothing is ever going to be fixed. It’s a working progress and you just have to learn to get through each day at a time. It takes your whole life to perfect. But, I’ve made it through all of my bad days so far so I am a lucky person. There are people younger than me dead for the same reason that I self-harmed. I count my blessings. I am not sure what the future holds or whether I will resort to unhealthy methods of coping again but for now, I count my blessings.
So guys and gals, I know I only lightly touched on my experience with self-harm and I only lightly introduced some thoughts behind it but I’m hitting 1,400 words and I feel like maybe developed thinking on this matter is for another day. I hope, though, that for now this has put some food in your thought-tank. Maybe try to be kinder to the shy kid or draw on your wrists instead of cutting them.
We all dislike something about ourselves. Whether it’s our weight, a feature, our past.. or simply everything. And we all have battles. But in this life, we only get one chance. One chance to make something, be someone at the very end. Although we struggle, we could at least try our best to turn that into some sort of positivity, if not for ourselves, for someone else.
Until next time,