What is that? *points up*
This is a sign, a warning sign. It is a trigger warning. You may have seen them on some blogs. Or the the words “trigger warning”. I have used them before. So, I am sure that those that know what this means will continue to read at any rate. This time though, I think you should think about that. I am not sure how this post is going yet, as I am writing it on the fly. I know where I am taking it though and I feel this may be a possible strong trigger, so only continue if you are feeling strong right now.
What am I talking about?
What is a trigger?
In Mental Illness there are triggers. Triggers are things, they can be a smell, image, text or situation, that may bring on something. It could be a panic attack, even aggressive anger. It could also bring on urges. Urges to perhaps do something reckless, this could be a shopping spree, it could be something sexual. It could also bring on the urge to do some self harm or sadly to end their life.
Today, this post, will be about self harm. This is aimed at the people who do not do so, in the hope that you can obtain an understanding of this. Perhaps some compassion.
For those that do, here is a blog with a lot of coping tips, coping techniques please take a look at it. Read Kevin’s bio, to show this is not written by just another person.
so, click on to read more. or not if you feel this could be a trigger.
What is self harm, many will know this as cutting, but this is not all. Self Harm can be many things including promiscuity which may be surprising. So lets get a list.
- hair pulling
- scab picking, skin pricking
- breaking of bones
- head banging
- piercings and tatoos (yes, sorry)
- drinking (not just alcohol, chemicals too)
- friction burns
There are more, but this will give you some insight.
I have done other posts on Self Harm. They can be found here
Here is where I want you to buck up and pay attention. To sit there and go ewe that’s sick.. is not helpful.
Why could or would someone do this? oh a cry for attention, they are weird.. NO!
This is where even if you really try, you are going to have a hard time with this, to understand.
Self Harm is used as a coping mechanism. No it is not an attempt at suicide. Quite the opposite.
They are using this to cope with stress that you can’t imagine, to retain a grip on reality. To feel something physical in a dislocative state, where their mind is floating and they want to come back.
Many reasons. It is also addicting.
For a simple answer, the pain releases “feel good” chemicals that can be addicting. Very similar to what a runner feels when they push past that pain and keep going. Or the feeling you have after a grand workout. I know as I seek those feelings when I run or work out in Martial Arts.
So then Self harm is ok?
but it is better than the alternative.
now before you that are reading and maybe shouldn’t be, please comment below after reading everything. 🙂 for yes it is not right, but I do understand your need.
Should it be stopped?
yes. BUT not just say stop that… the cause for the need needs to be addressed. Why they feel the need to self harm.
There is help, there are coping techniques to help them stop. They won’t stop until they want to though. Maybe not until the reason that they feel the need has been removed.
Don’t judge, you can’t, you can’t even comment on it, unless you are in their skin.
Many will not seek help, or have tried and it is not there. Much treatment is expensive, in some areas it doesn’t exist.
So self harm offers a burst of relief. It will not solve the why however. Self harmers know this, it is most often done in solitude, alone, I think the alone part is key. Even if they are with someone, they may be alone. Alone because those they are with would not understand. They hide it. May feel some shame, may not. It is not a cry for help, so they don’t want to talk about it. Some are sure they will be locked away if it is discovered. Many feel they have it under control.
Mental care health professional’s of course know of it, and I hope they understand it, many will not, some may treat patients with disdain. The patient will not return. Then the treatment they sought, may not be sought again, until they are much worse.
We of course learn of it, study it, it is not a paragraph in a text book that is skimmed over quickly.
Learning about it is one thing, when you encounter it, and you do, it is something else.
I of course learned of it. Studied it, felt saddened about it. The first time I had a “visit” with a young girl who self harmed, who was, what is called often a “cutter”, one that will use something sharp to make cuts on their bodies, is one I will never forget. Of course it wasn’t that long ago. It was one of my first “in-depth” sessions. Many self harmers that cut, conceal it, long sleeves, trousers or tights to hide the scars. Yes there are scars. They will go out of their way to hide this. I would be surprised if anyone doing therapy of any type didn’t notice right away when they had a session with someone who cut. Interview questions often brush over this.. do you do drugs.. do you self harm.. do you have headaches… It is not the same as when you truly know. Many patients who self harm may conceal this, answer no to the question. They fear what could happen if it is found out.
I suspected she did, I hadn’t seen anyone that had self harmed up to that point. She was very nervous, we talked for a while, I will not tell you about what. She became comfortable with me. I quietly said to her “you are hiding something beneath your sleeves aren’t you?”
Her eyes went big, she pulled back a bit, her breathing changed. There was a very long pause and a short nod, and some tears. Fear was strong in the room. I took her hand and held it until she looked into my eyes. I whispered “it is ok”. I held her hand while she regained herself. I kept eye contact and with a smile. She whispered back “it is? I am so scared, no one knows.”
So now medical me wants to be sure they are not infected, the cuts, no one has seen them. We are still whispering. It seemed right. “just on your arms?” she shook her head. I waited, I didn’t want to push… “thighs too” she whispered.
I squeezed her hand “Where did you cut last?” She looked at the arm I was holding. I of course looked down too, but the sleeve covered her arm to almost her finger tips.
I looked back up at her, I so wanted to look. To ask though and have her pull back into a shell would ruin what I had achieved. “do you want to see?” was whispered back… I just nodded squeezing her hand again.
She rolled her sleeve back, yes there were scars, viscous ones, some old some new, some healing. They were not infected. I was relieved. I gently touched one that had healed long ago and was but a trace. When I looked up back into her eyes, mine were filled with tears. Way to go Amber, very professional.
She was tearing up then as well, I rolled her sleeve back down. I put my hands on her shoulders and got her to look at my face again.. I whispered again “it is ok”
“are you going to tell my parents?”… “no, you will, when you are ready, not before or we can do it together.”
“really?” (I will never forget that, she was so shocked)
I saw some of the fear fade off her. I still see her, as I said it wasn’t that long ago. She did tell her parents, we did it together. We worked out how she was going to do that. They were supportive. She hasn’t cut for 15 months now.
see, this is so important. Supportive, that can only be achieved with knowledge, and more importantly compassion and understanding.
Don’t judge. You are not capable of it. Don’t increase the shame, this is so much a part of the stigma that is associated with mental health.
How could someone be driven to do this, cut after cut, some deep. Often cutting too deep and causing damage, yes and then off to the hospital.
This is what you are not going to understand.
But, because you don’t understand, it continues to be something done alone, late at night. This is most common in teenagers. More girls than boys. BUT IT IS NOT LIMITED TO TEENS.
Help is available, help to stop, and help with what caused the feeling or need to self harm. Depression and Disorders are the most likely causes.
This image is a step. Part of what many bloggers are trying to do, to remove the stigma of mental illness.
Kevin made this image, the blog post is here: SUPPORTING SUFFERERS OF SELF-HARM AND THEIR CARERS
Be a carer.
Things self harmers have said, as to why they self harm.
“cutting makes me feel alive”
“when I see my blood, I know I am alive”
“the pain makes me realize I am alive”
“to punish myself”
“to let out the emotion, to make pain on the outside that is stronger than the pain on the inside”
“to show bullies, to scare them off”
“to feel something real when my mind is floating and I don’t know what is real and what is a hallucination”
There are so many more, most say to know I am alive. You have to understand what the mind is like when in deep depression, or when in a fugue. When hallucinations are so real and what they are telling you… is worse. If you can’t put your mind there, you can’t truly understand.
I am not saying that self harming is good, or ok. Self harmers would rather they didn’t feel the need either. They want to be well. Being well doesn’t happen just because you want it though.
Now, I am not glorifying self harm, I truly wish it didn’t occur. Remember this though.
Hugs are better than Frowns.
Be a supporter
STAMP OUT MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA
Learn, listen, support.