Last Self Injury Awareness Day I had a friend who posted on Facebook that she hated it because people were just posting statuses and that they ‘didn’t understand and weren’t doing anything to help’ for the rest of the year.
She completely missed the point.
The whole point of SIAD is to raise awareness, yes, it would be lovely it everyone spent all of their time looking out for others and helping the people in their lives who self harmed… but life’s not like that. We are human and we are flawed– your best friend could be self harming and 9/10 you won’t know, especially if they don’t want you to.
Even if you do know you can’t sit by them every second of every day and stop them- what are you going to do? Pull the blade from their hands? Watch them constantly? You can’t be there and you can’t stop them.
I never had treatment for my self injury, it was talked about and came up constantly during the sessions that I had with mental health workers… but they never asked me to stop, they never even talked about stopping. My self injury was seen as a symptom of a larger problem, the plan was to treat the main problem and then let my self injury stop by itself.
I think that this was the right method to take- I believe very strongly that self injury is a reaction to other things and a symptom of deeper problems. The hard truth is that if someone is going to hurt themselves, they will hurt themselves. At the end of the day that’s their decision to make.
There are things you can do- you can offer someone a shoulder to cry on, a number to call, a sympathetic ear. People self harm because they have no other option; they don’t know how to deal with what they’re feeling.
As people on the outside we can offer them help, and we should offer them help- self injury is a red flag, warning us that something is seriously wrong with someone’s life.
From the perspective of someone who has self harmed for over four years I have to say that my self injury was a desperate attempt to save my own life and attract the attention of people who could help me. I was alone and desperate and faced with emotions that I couldn’t deal with. I didn’t know how to get help, I didn’t know who to talk to.
For me self injury was beyond anything I had ever experienced- it was so huge and so series that I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t physically get the words out.
If someone had found out when I started then I could have stopped, I could have been weaned off it… but by the time I collapsed in the school playground it was too late. They took me to Matron’s office and peeled my shirt off me- the material was stuck to the burnt and scarred skin of my forearms.
Four or so years later and I’m still self harming… not constantly, not even regularly, months can go by between cuts but at the end of the day it’s still there. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to walk away from it completely.
I think what I’m trying to say is that SIAD is important because the only way to stop people self harming is by raising awareness– raising awareness takes the fear away, it means that everyone knows what to do and what to say when someone comes out to them, it stops self harm from being the unspeakable thing and opens doors for people to get help.
The hardest thing about self harm is that it is totally down to the individual to seek help, no-one else can stop them or do it for them. It’s got to be their choice.
Thanks for reading,