The Why Behind Self-Harm

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Many questions are asked regarding self-harm. Here, I am going to be debunking some myths and helping with do's and don't's of dealing with a self-harmer.

Submitted: May 30, 2013

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Submitted: May 30, 2013



Okay, first of all, let me get off by saying, that self-harm is a serious topic. I deal with self-harm daily and the only thing I am trying to do here is to help victims dealing with it, and people who want to understand more about it. I am in no way saying that it is a good way to cope, I am even currently trying to quit but this is just a helpful guide.

With that in mind, I'm going to describe what self-harm is. Self-harm is when a person, (It can be a boy or a girl it affects both) purposely injures, or inflicts pain on themselves in order to deal with anger, stress, depression, anxiety and other negative emotions. IT IS NOT FOR ATTENTION. Despite the myth that self-harmers are just attention-seeking, most people who self-harm will go to great lengths to hide it from people, and will try to deny it at all costs. Another myth is that self-harm is only cutting oneself with razor blades or knives. This is also not true! Although cutting is one of the most common forms, it is by far not the only. Other forms of self-harm are scratching with a fingernail or sharp object, pin-pricking, hitting, punching or bruising oneself, overdosing on drugs or harmful substances for no purpose other than self-destruction, and even breaking ones own bones. Less extreme version are snapping rubber-bands on your wrist or digging your nails into your palm. Self-harm is NOT a suicide attempt. In fact, even though self-harmers are more likely to be suicidal, self-harming is one of the ways they prevent themselves from attempting suicide. It gets out anger, frustration and in some cases, just makes them feel something, instead of feeling the numbness of depression.

Do's and Don't's of dealing with a self-harmer.

Approach the subject lightly. If you have reason to believe someone is self-harming, DO NOT shout at them or confront them head on. Many victims will feel embarrased and ashamed about doing it. So do not force them to talk if they do not want to. Let them know that if they ever want to talk you are there for them, but until the open up to you, do not bring it up, leave all questions optional and do not force them to answer. Forcing someone to tell you when they don't want to talk about it will make them resent you and will loose their trust. Do not TELL them to get help or go to therapy or the hospital. Believe me, they probably think about recieving help every day. Tell them you care about them and that you want to see them get better leave the decision up to them to ask for help. Do not ask if you can tell people, you probably weren't meant to find out anyway, and they probably don't want others to know too. Respect their desicion. If they say that you must keep it secret, KEEP IT SECRET. The biggest don't on this list, DO NOT CALL THEM NAMES SUCH AS, EMO, FREAK, MENTAL, OR PSYCHO. They are not emo, they are not freaks, they are just trying to cope with feelings and thoughts that you probably couldn't even imagine.

One thing to remember, ***SELF-HARM CAN BE AN ADDICTION***

just like drugs or alcohol, self-harming is addictive. They probably regret starting doing it, but are unable to stop. I know very well how hard it is to quit, I still haven't been able to. When they feel the need to cut, it is very hard to stop.

Don't treat them any differently. Be polite and show them kindness, because being nice can go along way, but be nice because you WANT to be nice. Not because you pity them, or feel like you have to. They are the same person they always were, just because you found out about their self-harming does not make them any weaker. People who cope with depression and mental disorders are extremely strong. Because every pebble becomes a boulder, and the fact that they have been coping for so long, means that they are tougher than you think. Thank you. Again if you have a response or exerience to share please do so in the comments, I always appreciate reading your replies. Bye! -AC

© Copyright 2018 Alana Claire. All rights reserved.

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