Let’s talk about Self Harm
(Part 1 of a 3 part series)
You’re meeting up with a friend for lunch. You’re at a restaurant and while you both are eating and catching up, her long sleeve slowly slips to reveal row by row of neat, evenly spaced parallel cuts on her wrist. She quickly adjusts it, but now you know your friend cuts herself. She acts like nothing happened, and you pretend the same, for the sake of normalcy.
You’re in school and changing for your Phys Ed session, and you notice the girl next to you is quickly changing behind her locker. You see a delicate web of scars on her leg, and you look away. Because, you know, she’s a freak and it’s not your problem. But what if it is?
Self harm is alarmingly on the rise, and yet the concept is just as misunderstood as the victims of self injury and abuse. It’s not some sort of attention seeking behavior, nor does it mean that the victim is suicidal. If you know someone who harms themselves, please read on. A solution to self harm can only be attained through understanding and empathy. And if you are trapped in a cycle of self abuse, please, read on- you’re not alone, there is a way out.
People who self harm are often dealing with multiple emotional issues, and sometimes, severe abuse. To those of you who have been blessed with a normal life, the concept may seem absurd- ‘How can people hurt themselves to drive away hurt? It’s defies logic!’ But take a moment and try to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine a young girl in her teens, already dealing with her body changing rapidly and in ways she doesn’t fully comprehend. Living in a house with alcoholic or addicted or abusive parents, being bullied in school, being picked on by the other kids her age, struggling with course work, being repeatedly molested by a neighbor or a teacher, or worse, a family member… As much as we’d like to act like this doesn’t happen, it does. More than half the kids we talk to deal with any and sometimes all these problems. There is a sense of helplessness, of no control over their lives or their situation. Imagine that state of despair, and then it becomes clear, why so many of them gravitate to the temporary relief that self harm provides.
Some kids discover self harm by accident. They hear their parents yelling and screaming, and bolt the room shut and grab onto something sharp and squeeze, till the physical pain cuts through the mental confusion, giving a sudden rush of clarity. Slowly and steadily, they seek this kind of ‘hit’ every time something goes wrong. And like every substance of abuse, a tolerance builds up gradually, so that each time, they need to push their boundaries further, just to feel sane again. If you have been a victim of self harm at any point, or still are, then you will understand this need for clarity, for release.
But self harm isn’t the answer to any problem. If anything, it complicates your situation even more, and puts you in danger of permanently damaging yourself, physically or mentally. And this time, you’ll hold yourself responsible. You’ll blame yourself for the anxiety, the panic. You’ll isolate yourself to drive away anyone who might notice the burns or the scars, and the alienation will only add to your loneliness. It might seem like the easy way out, but it’ll only drag you down. You’re preventing yourself from healing emotionally, from recovering and dealing with mental trauma in a healthy way. That tiny moment of indecision and weakness will only add to your burden, and you’ll keep going in circles around the issue at the heart of the problem, instead of setting up a way to counter it and defy it.
If you are a victim of self harm, please understand. You’re not abandoned, and you’re not alone. There is a way out, and by knowing where you stand, by reading this, you’re already taking the first steps down the road to recovery.
Love and light,
￼Next part- Self Harm- The Problem
Ref- Davidson’s Principles of Medicine
This article has been featured at http://interactblogs.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/lets-talk-about-self-harm/