Jade Taylor - Counsellor
Tip 6 💕 - Possible Difficult Subject
Updated: Feb 23, 2021
I have been in two-minds whether to post this, however ultimately we can not hide from what is a current real topic and one that I have supported people with for over 20 years: It is very much prevalent at the moment and unfortunately continues to be on the rise with young people. And maybe, just maybe, some of my advice may help someone out there, at least maybe to open up.
Possible trigger post: Tip 6 - However, I will not be sharing this post as widely. But if you know someone that you think may benefit from any of this advice then please signpost.
Today I want to talk about self-harm. Over the last 20 years, self-harming has become more of a mainstream coping mechanism. I apologise if saying this offends you, as either a self-harmer or as someone who supports someone who self-harms. I apologise, because self-harming is individual. It is unique to the person and can often be referred to as a friend. A friend who is there and understands when others do not. We think of self-injury as cutting, but there are many ways of causing self-injury, including poisoning, burning (salt, aerosols) ligaturing, and surprisingly includes drinking, drug use, smoking, tattoos and piercings. If you are supporting someone who choses to hurt themselves to cope, then I would advise on having a look for the different methods, as you just may not be aware and it will help with supporting them.
Within this post I offer a link to 145 things to do other than self-harm, it is written by people who injure themselves and are a good resource for someone who wants to attempt another way of coping/feeling.
Throughout the years I have heard…. ‘people who are self-harming are just after attention’. And you know what, sometimes that’s true, but using self-harm comes with so much shame and guilt attached to it, that people judge that wanting attention is a bad thing. It’s not. What is wrong with wanting to be loved? Or wanting people to notice that you are in pain and want some help. I have seen what guilt and shame does to people who self-harm. Feeling guilty for hurting themselves, when all they want to do is survive and to just cope with all the bad overwhelming feelings. Feeling guilty and shameful can make someone stop talking about it, feel even more isolated, wrong and alone. This is not the way to help someone who injures themselves.
If you are someone who hurts yourself, know that you have a voice: that you have every right to get support and be understood that what you are doing is coping. And when you are ready, there are other ways to express how you feel. When you are ready. Be aware of when you self-harm, if there’s anything that triggers you? Do you want someone in particular to notice or support you? What do you want to say to them? What are you not saying that causes you to get to the point of harming. I find that writing it down is a really successful way to get out what you want to say, or what you feel. And then maybe when you are ready, you can then verbalise what is going on for you. It sounds really simple, but actually this takes a lot of work and for you to be ready to want to stop and express yourself differently. To be heard! There are a few other coping strategies that are successful, such as holding ice cubes, box breathing, writing and drawing, using red pen where you would harm. But please have a look at the list and see what jumps out at you. If you ever feel that you want to take it further than self-harm, please get support, regardless of the reaction, having someone to get you professional help and making sure that you are ok, is worth it
It’s good to have a distraction that works for you in the moment. You will peak before wanting to harm, but after 30seconds-1minute, that feeling will subside. It’s about recognising what you want to say or be seen, to who, and what is stopping you? I appreciate it is yours, but your harm is trying to say something…… it’s about finding out, what?? Remember, you are not alone! And there are people who understand and will respect that it is individual to you, but want to support you to make sure you are safe and being the happiest you want to be.
It is important to support someone who self-harms without either judging or reacting to it. Often someone will test your reaction regarding their self-harm, and if it is negative, then the harm could then become hidden and have shame and guilt attached to it, heightening the issue. However, on the flip side if you react to it and begin jumping to demands, then you could potentially give the self-harm act inappropriate power. True you may not agree with it and you have every right to say you do not want to see it, while also saying you are there for the person and you love them and will support them before and after. It is important (where possible) to accept that this is what someone does, while also seeking professional support. Not just for them, but for your to. Support them before and after to talk about their feelings or how you can support them. But the act itself should be private, without a reaction and judgement, but ensuring they are safe and able to talk about it. We don't want it hidden. However, this does not extinguish the fact that you should be able to express how someone’s self-harm affects you, without neglecting the person. Sounds complicated I know. But simply, it’s about accepting the person, not giving rise to the behaviour and seeking professional support for all of you.
Why do people self-harm? Each person will have a unique set of reasons and motivations for injuring themselves, but some common themes include:
• To distract from emotional pain. People with depression or anger may self-harm to shift from emotional to physical pain, which can seem easier to handle.
• To release tension. Someone with high stress or anxiety may self-injure to reduce these feelings.
• To feel something. Some people express feeling numb and through self-harming, they create a feeling.
• To express themselves. As a way to stand out or change their body, self-harm can be a form of self-expression.
• To self-punish. If someone feels they failed in some way, they may self-harm as a punishment for their actions.
146 Things To Do Besides Self-Harm https://www.adolescentselfinjuryfoundation.com/things-to-do-besides-self-harm
Resource for supporters https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/self-harm/
Stay safe everyone, and I hope this information has been helpful to understanding how to either manage your own self-injury and the possible core motivators: speak out, people do want to hear how you feel and support you to manage your feelings.
Or how to support someone who may self-harm and get the support you all may need.