What is self-harm
Self-harm is when you hurt yourself as a way of dealing with difficult feelings, bad memories or stressful situations and experiences. People have different ways of expressing self-harm such as;
- Express something that is difficult to put into words
- Change emotional pain into physical pain
- Reduce very strong feelings or thoughts
- Punish yourself for your feeling and experiences
After you have self-harmed you may feel a short term of release. The cause of the distress has unlikely not gone away and it may have come back worse. Once you become dependent on self-harm it may take a long time to stop.
Types of self-harm
There are many ways people can intentionally harm themselves, such as:
- cutting or burning their skin
- punching or hitting themselves
- poisoning themselves with tablets or toxic chemicals
- misusing alcohol or drugs
- deliberately starving themselves (anorexia nervosa) or binge eating (bulimia nervosa)
- excessively exercising
Why do people self-harm?
Self-harm is very common especially with younger people. In most cases people self-harm to help them cope with overwhelming emotional issues. Some of the reasons why are:
- pressures at school or work
- money worries
- sexual, physical or emotional abuse
- confusion about your sexuality (see LGBTQ mental health)
- breakdown of a relationship
- loss of a job
- an illness or health problem
- low self-esteem
- an increase in stress
- difficult feelings, such as depression, anxiety, anger or numbness
Sometimes people talk about self-harm as attention-seeking. If people make comments like this, it can leave you feeling judged and alienated. A lot of people keep their self-harm private and it can be painful to have your behaviour misunderstood in this way.
However, if you do self-harm as a way of bringing attention to yourself remember that there is nothing wrong with wanting to be noticed and to have your distress acknowledged and taken seriously. You also deserve a respectful response from those around you, including medical professionals.
If you are self-harming there are many ways to get help. The main one would be seeing your GP and they will help you find the right treatment for you. It may be talking with a therapist 1-2-1, taking medication to help with depression or anxiety or joining a support group with people who are going through the same thing as you are.
Remember you are never alone and you can also get support from us at CYP Yellow Door, pop in and chat to one of our trained volunteers. We are open Monday to Friday 10-5 or call us on 01268 514792.