Posted by: glitterseason | March 10, 2008

Self Injury Support

Self injury Support

I noticed today that most people who find this blog, have typed ‘self harm’ , ‘self injury’ or ‘self mutilation’ into a search engine. It is a MASSIVE issue, with millions of people young and old turning to the Internet to find support, so, here is the best I can offer. I have self harmed for 13 odd years and haven’t self harmed (cut) for 9 months. A lot of my friends cut themselves and I am also a qualified health professional who works with women who self harm. I feel I have an excellent understanding and empathy.

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FIRST OFF if you are suicidal please call or email the Samaritans: http://www.samaritans.org/

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DISCLAIMER: none of this is to be used as therapeutic treatment. It is merely information I have gathered from personal experiences. This information is for people directly involved with people who self harm, or self harm themselves. I am not accountable for any of the consequences from following my self help guide. If in doubt about anything SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP.

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Key points:

  • Self harm is not attention seeking
  • Self harm is not a suicide attempt, it is in-fact LIFE SAVING and therefore more positive then people think
  • It is not a good coping mechanism but it is a coping mechanism that enables a person to survive
  • Self harmer’s are often acutely ashamed of their wounds and will often take months, maybe years to tell someone
  • Self harm can become addictive

Someone told you that they self harm? Here is what you can do:

  • Look after yourself first of all, if you are upset and traumatised, get help. You are no use to a friend if you become unwell too.
  • Listen to the person, be sensitive, loving and caring.
  • Be non-judgemental.
  • Encourage them to seek help but don’t force them
  • If you think they are at SERIOUS risk, tell someone, but tell the individual first that you are doing so. You might not want to, but it is better then that person becoming very ill or committing suicide
  • Encourage them to keep clean blades, bandages and antiseptic. If they are going to self harm, they can make it safer.
  • Do not get angry at the individual, it is ok for you to perhaps feel angry that you have problems but don’t self harm…but this is not helpful to the individual. They have just struggled to cope in a ‘normal’ , ‘healthy’ way.

You self harm and thinking about making yourself safer? Or thinking about stopping? Some steps to help you, follow them in order, every tiny step you try is POSITIVE, even if you still self harm, it is an amazing achievement:

  1.  Never try to just ‘stop’. More often then not, you will give in and then feel a failure. This will trigger off more negative self thoughts and start the self harm cycle again. If you can, seek professional support, but if you can’t, the following steps can help.
  2. Keep clean blades (or whatever you use), plasters, bandages etc close to you. Sounds weird but sometimes just knowing they are there can help.
  3. When you are ready, lock what you use away, sometimes the delay when trying to find the blades, can mean you change your mind.
  4. Try to increase the delay between the self harm thought and the self harm action. Even if it is for 10 seconds. Every little step is a MASSIVE step to stopping. Increase the time over the next few weeks and months.
  5. Learn what your triggers are. Acknowledge them. Accept them and try to deal with them, maybe by writing, drawing, painting, walking, running, meditating etc. When you get the self harming thought, try and DO SOMETHING instead of self harming. You are not a failure if you do something and then give in to self harming. Everything is a small positive step towards reducing self harm frequency or stopping.
  6. If you feel able to, challenge your thoughts. For example, you think ‘I need to cut NOW’. Say to yourself ‘why do I need to cut? what will it achieve? what are the consequences?’. Then try and say to yourself ‘I will allow myself to do it tomorrow’. Then by the next day, hopefully you will not want to do it.
  7. If you have got this far, I think you can try this:Imagine a wave. It goes in. It goes out. Sometimes it comes in deep and fast, but it always goes out again. Imagine the sound the water makes. The smell. The salty taste on your lips. Notice the sky and the sand. Breathe. Now compare to your emotions. Emotions wash in like a giant wave, but they always go out and so will your emotions, that emotion will not last forever. When you get the thought of wanting to self harm, imagine the wave. Really feel and taste it and tell yourself the emotion WILL go out, just like the waves and the tide. Lay on your bed and imagine this, let the emotion pass. Acknowledge that you have had this very real, scary feeling, but let it pass.
  8. If you have got this far, you have done amazingly well. Even if you still self harm, it is important to acknowledge the positive steps you have taken. It isn’t easy, in-fact it will be the hardest thing you will ever do.
  9. If you have managed a certain amount of time without self harming, treat yourself. You deserve it.

That is a brief overview of advice I can offer. I hope it helps, please leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions or opinions, I always reply (unless it is abusive), but it may take me a few days.
Self harm is scary, but it can be overcome, you can help yourself and you can support friends. Just don’t expect anyone to just stop, self harmer’s self harm for a reason and it takes time to find another coping mechanism.

 For further information please go to the best self harm support website out there, Recover Your Life:  http://www.recoveryourlife.com/

Good Luck

xx

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Responses

  1. Very strong post and I am sure many will find it helpful. Until a few months ago I never thought the things I did where classed as self harm. I always thought self harm was about people cutting themselves only didn’t take into context the other stuff like living on OTC drugs because they get you through or the hair pulling, eating issues and skin picking all of which I have done for years but have never told people not even the professionals since I didn’t think it was a problem Now I realise it is but talking about it scares the shit out of me.

  2. well its great you have realised…and left a message here. 🙂 That is a really positive step. It personally took me 5 years from my realisation that I had to stop, to get help from professionals. There is hope you can reduce the risk, severity and frequency first before stopping. If there is anything I can help with, drop a line 🙂
    xx

  3. Damn, I never realised that hair pulling was something to do with self-harm, i didn’t really think about it.. There was one time when my hair started to fall out, but i hadn’t started pulling it then, and my parents said to stop pulling it out, even though i hadn’t been.. So that’s what made me start I suppose.. I know that I need to stop cutting, but I know that I’m just not ready yet because so many new problems come up that I can’t cope with, without cutting… I always tell my boyfriend about it, but he gets upset and angry and it makes me feel worse and want to do it aain, do you have any advice on what i could say to help him to change his mind about getting angry about it? I have been looking for loads of different pages for help with self-harming, but can’t really find many helpful ones..

  4. this is a wonderful thing you are doing and i really appriciate it, is there any advice you can offer for me, i self injured for 8 years adn then just up and quit for a number of reasons, i haven’t done it in almost a year but i get really fidgety, and antsy. I have the occasional panic attack and the only thing i can think of is to SI. my only escape from the thought is to sleep but i have found myself sleeping for 18 hours at atime and know this isn’t healthy. Is there anything you can think of to help get rid of the “itch” so to speak? please email me as i dont know if i can find this site again and it’s just easier if you email me. thanks so much ~harley

  5. Tis very good post, I’m under the adolescent services and what you said is soooo true. I found your site cos I’m trying to set up my own support site. Good luck and congratulations,
    ella xx xx

  6. ive been self inflicting on my self for many years i think it started when i was 10 and now im 15 i have many scars on my arms,neck,legs,ect.
    but recently my parents found out and it totaly destroyed them they got so emoctional over it ,when they found out it got so worried ,as if to say why are you getting up-set im the selfharmer and the next dai i culdnt cope they made me start seeing a couciler but i dont want to see her because im not conftable talking to other people who i dont know and scince i have still selfharmed many times and i finaly realise that i do need some help if anyone ,anyone at all can help me please any adivce will be much apretiated > danielcollins1993@hotmail.com

  7. Hi there,
    The most supportive thing on this page for me is that you are a health professional as I am a student nurse.
    I’ve self-harmd on and off for years but never very often or very damaging but sinse I started my first placement (on a teenager ward) i have started cutting myself again but worse than i have before.

    I’ve stopped feeling good when I cut and started to feel good about other aspects of my life so i’m hopeful i can stop myself soon. I feel jealous when we get self-harmers on the ward because of the attention they get as i am loney atm and the one person i told has not spoken to me sinse.

    But anyway, it’s just nice to know that pahaps i’m not the only one that sometimes feels they’re the wrong side of the desk.

  8. hi….emmm….well, iam 12 years old and i cut myself since iam 11 and i dont know how to stop. i read what you say and it has been very useful. but, theres one thing i need to know: how can i tell my parents that i cut myself? i thought that i should tell it to a mental specialist and that then he could tell my parents, but iam scared of what my parents may think about me….

  9. I was 10 or 11 when I started this type (self harm) of coping. I’m now 15 but I still have my episodeS of strong self loathing because I’m not wor- I have to stop myself there. Anyway this post comforts me because I don’t feel alone as much.

    To Tanya: My parents found out the hard way. I had a suicide attempt and my dad walked in and saw me. I felt even worse when bevause of it. I felt angry at my self. I think you should tell them.

  10. I’m 15 and have been self-injuring since I was 12.
    My best friend gets so disappointed in me when I self-harm again after trying and failing not to that it makes me do it again. I wish it were possible for him to understand that. He acts as though it’s okay because I tried and then he goes and tells other people because he says I “need help.” I wouldn’t need help if he’d actually try and help me through it instead of making me feel horrid when I do self-harm.
    I loved and trusted another one of my friends enough to tell them about it. He acted like it didn’t bother him at all and hugged me and told me it would all be okay. But for the next week, whenever he saw me he wouldn’t talk to me. When I finally caught him online and asked him why, he said it’s because he hates cutters because “they’re attention-whores.” It made me want to self-harm again.
    I feel so worthless that none of my friends seem to understand. So very worthless.

  11. Thank you for having this site. There’s very little information about self-injury that’s remotely accurate. People tend to shy away from the subject because the idea of someone hurting themselves scares most people silly–and don’t get me wrong, it should, but it shouldn’t disgust them to the point where someone who self-harms is unable to talk to others due to overwhelming shame. Hopefully if the issue gets talked about more and more people learn about it self-injurers won’t feel as shamed by their actions and might become more willing to look for help.

    I am by no means an expert and I’m fully well aware of the fact that what I am about to do sounds like self-endorsement–and it kind of is. However, I also hope that if you read the articles I’m about to link to you’ll learn something. I’m a cutter, I have been a cutter for close to a decade now. It’s my hope that if you read some of my works (or anybody works on the issue) and then spread the word the subject of self-injury will become less taboo.

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5565478/the_silent_language.html?cat=72 This is a research essay. Even if you don’t want to read it, I do suggest Cutting by Steven Levenkron, especially if you know someone that is a cutter. He is amazing at bringing psychiatry down to the laymen level and explaining the whys and how to helps to people.

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5565508/reflection.html?cat=43 This is a non-fiction essay about a woman who cut , why she cut, how she began to come to terms with it, and the power it still holds on her years after.

  12. I am so happy because 4 weeks to day I have been with out self harm.i encourage every one who self harms to talk to someone about it for me that person was my youth pastor with out him I don’t know what I would have done. Thank you so much Jeremy ❤


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