As you are all well aware, I am a huge mental-health enthusiast and aim to break all boundaries and discourses around it being a taboo in Ireland. And self-harm, for me, was definitely something that (even today) I find difficult to speak about. Self inflicting pain on ourselves can be seriously addictive, but sometimes it can be the only plausible option in our unwell (and sometimes distorted) minds.
One thing that I did notice when visiting doctors, was just how quickly they can dismiss self-harm- almost as if it is a side-effect of our illnesses and unmanageability. Well, I have news for you. For me, it was not a side-effect. It became an addiction. Something that at one stage was the ONLY WAY that I could let off steam. I couldn’t find another way to channel just how much I disliked myself. I could not find a way to express the guilt and blame I had against myself, my mistakes and even future things that hadn’t happened yet. It became a little bit of art for me to sooth my pain. And as time went on, it made me dislike myself more- for my scars, for doing it, for thinking of it, for my obsession with it. I often wondered why other girls my age were so happy. I wondered why they didn’t have scars, why they didn’t need to hurt themselves. I couldn’t answer that. I could never answer for other people as much as I would have liked to. As time went on, I realised that everyone’s journey is different. And although mine bore a little bit more pain, in the end I became the wiser one. So, I don’t wonder about other people very much anymore.
The main reason that I am writing this blog tonight is because I feel that not only is self-harm considered one’s own stupidity, rashness or fault, it is also dismissed quite a lot. It is not spoken of very much within the public sector and there, in my opinion, doesn’t seem to be any alternatives presented to people that cannot control their self-destructive urges.
In my own personal experience, I found professionals telling me to stop self-harming. Not only did this enrage me further due to their lack of understanding, it led me to feel even more isolated. I present to you all today some coping mechanisms that I learned ON MY OWN, that probably are not presented to you on public platforms surrounding mental health issues. Let’s have a look at what else we could do to let some steam off- and I am not going to tell you to eat healthy or exercise, which seems to be every professional’s cure to depression and anxiety.
- Use a pen or marker to draw/scribble on the places in which you are urged to cut. I used to write things on my body that I don’t like about myself. For me, it helped the acceptance process.
- Squeeze ice cubes in your hands- this will be uncomfortable but you will find it has a similar effect.
- Snap a rubber band against your wrist.
- Scream as loud as you possible can- into a pillow if you don’t want to be heard!
- Punch a pillow or punch bag- it may be a good idea to consider taking up martial arts.
- Have a good, old-fashioned, whaling cry.
- Throw a cushion as hard as you can against a wall.
- Tear up an old phone directory, magazine or newspaper.
- Play some loud music and dance as energetically as you can (once again, use earphones if you don’t want to be heard).
- Write down exactly how you are feeling in a diary and tear it all up!