How + Why You Should Stop Self Harming

In case you hadn’t already realised this Saturday 1st March is Self Injury Awareness Day (SIAD) if you want to know more you can click here for more information and to find ways that you can help.

WHY YOU SHOULD STOP SELF HARMING

At the end of the day it’s your body and you have the ultimate choice… I’ve sat here for a while turning things over in my mind and I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be hypocritical of me to tell you to stop- but I’m going to give it a go anyway.

You need to stop self harming because at the end of the day it will only get worse. The sooner you stop the easier it will be, I’m sure you’re all familiar with this but in case you’ve never seen it before, here it is:

“WARNING – Before you make that first cut remember: You will enjoy this. You will find the blood and pain release addictive. Even though you think you can make a few tiny cuts that aren’t deep and will heal easily, they will get deeper. They will scar. They will take sometimes months to heal. And years for the scars to fade. If you think you can limit the cutting to one area of your body, think again; it will spread when you run out of skin.

“Be prepared to withdraw from others and live in a constant state of shame. Even if you are the most honest person ever to live, you will find yourself lying to the people you love. You will jerk back from your friends when they touch you as if their hands were dipped in poison. You will be terrified that they will feel something under the cloth of your shirt or because it just plain hurts so much to be touched. Be prepared to get so out of control you fear your next cut because you don’t know how bad it will be. Just wait for 10 cuts to turn into 100.

“Be prepared for your entire life to revolve around thinking about cutting, cutting and covering up cutting. And just wait till that first time you cut “too deep.” And you freak out because the blood won’t stop, and you are gaping, and you feel yourself shaking all over. You are having a panic attack and you are terrified but you can’t tell anyone. So you sit there alone, praying it will be ok swearing you’ll never let it go this far again. But you will, and further.

“Don’t worry, you will learn how to take care of your cuts so that you can go deeper and deeper and avoid the ER. And the better you get at treating your cuts, the deeper they get. You will lie to yourself and justify it when you find yourself spending 20, 30 or 50 dollars every time you go the pharmacy. You will feel the flutter of your heartbeat every time you go to the counter to ring up your order. Butterfly strips, 3 or four different kinds of dressings, Betadine, antibiotic cream, medical tape, scar reducers. You will tap your foot impatiently, hoping the line will just move and no one will stare at you or wonder why you need all these things. And at the same time, secretly hope someone will notice; someone who is standing in line with an armful of the same supplies; someone who understands but of course that never happens.

“Medical supplies won’t be the only thing you spend all your money on. Be prepared to buy a new wardrobe; long-sleeve shirts in summer colours, bracelets, wristbands , boots, gloves, the list goes on and on. You will start looking at everyone in a different way, scanning their bodies for any signs of SI just hoping that you might meet someone like you so you don’t feel so terribly alone. You won’t even think about it as your eyes scan their wrists arms, hoping, just hoping, they will be like you. But they are not. You will see their clean arms and feel terribly ashamed and alone. You will start doing a lot of things alone.

“You will always have to wash your laundry in private so know one sees the blood stains on your clothes and towels. You will always be cleaning up the blood, scrubbing your bathroom floor, wiping the blood off your keyboard. You won’t be able to make it through a day without cutting.

“Next thing you know, you are in a public bathroom somewhere breaking open a scab with a sewing needle that you keep in your wallet for emergencies. When you get really desperate anything will be a cutting tool; scissors, a car key, a needle, a paperclip, even a pen. Doesn’t matter what it is if you need to cut badly enough, you will find something.

“Say goodbye to things you took for granted. Like wearing shorts or sandals, pedicures, sleeveless tops. A normal summer day at the beach or in a swimming pool will become a far off memory for you. Get ready to itch. Because you will itch and itch, “so much you will look like you have fleas or a skin disease.” You will become an expert on your body as you destroy it carefully. You will dream about cutting, you will dream about being exposed. It will haunt you day and night and take over your life. You will wish you never made that first cut because while you absolutely HATE cutting at the same time you love it and can not live with out it…”

– Anonymous
From here.
I know that you won’t believe that, I know that you think it won’t happen to you… but it will. It might not happen exactly like that, but the gist will be the same. Self injury becomes an obsession, it takes over your life and turns you into someone else.
You don’t deserve that.
It’s never too late to stop- it could be a day, a week… or twenty years, but it’s never too late to stop. You don’t deserve to live your life lying, because as much as you might think it’s not a problem- it is.
Our most basic instinct as living beings is to survive- you’re doing something that fights against that instinct. You need to realise how wrong what you’re doing is, because right now you’re in so deep that cutting is normal- that harming yourself and endangering your own life is normal.
This is wrong.
I’ve been cutting for about four and a half years- nothing in my body or mind has ever told me to stop, I don’t see the problem with harming myself. It feels normal to me- but about a year or so ago a tiny little voice in my head suggested trying something else. I don’t feel any urge to stop hurting myself, there’s no emotion behind that voice- it’s just a cold, quiet, intellectual little voice that says: ‘maybe don’t hurt yourself…’ and sometimes I listen.
So I’m asking you to listen too, even if you don’t really feel it- maybe just try… because each time I go longer and longer between cuts, my skin heals, the marks fade… all the worries about my scars, about people seeing just drip away.
It leaves me feeling incredibly peaceful… odd, yes, but peaceful.
HOW TO STOP SELF HARMING
Self harm is a red flag, it means that there’s something worse going on, something that you can’t deal with. It’s an unhelpful coping mechanism- but a coping mechanism all the same.
In order to stop you need to find out what’s causing the problem- I think that the first step is to go and talk to your GP, they can help you start to address the problem and probably put you on medication to ease things until you can get a mental health referral.
Don’t try and tell me that you’re not bad enough- if the only way you can deal with living is to harm yourself then things are pretty bad already.
In terms of practical solutions I suggest you follow the link here, but if you don’t want to leave this page here are some practical solutions.
  • The Later Rule: this is a simple one, you’re allowed to self harm…. but later. Set an amount of time- 15 minutes, 1 hour, but when you reach that time give yourself another amount of time, and so on until the urge has faded.
  • H.A.L.T: this is a very interesting thing that I learnt about recently- STOP what you’re doing and then assess the situation- what’s causing you to feel like self harming? Are you hungry; low blood sugar can make you feel pretty rough: angry; anger is important, but you need to release it carefully: lonely; loneliness is horrible, but there are plenty of ways to combat it- phone or text a friend, message someone, go to an online chatroom: tired; sleep is very important for your mental health, you need to assess if you’re getting enough because without it life seems unmanageable.
  • Write something; a letter, a diary- a blog post!
  • Call a friend
  • Draw
  • Do your make-up/hair (actually one of my favourites)
  • Listen to POSITIVE music
  • Exercise
  • Go for a walk- leave the house and just keep on walking.
  • Squeeze some ice-cubes.
  • Draw on yourself (sounds stupid but you know what I mean- use red pen to mimic blood)
  • Snap elastic bands against your skin- this is a very popular one and something that I used for years, it’s still technically ‘self harm’ but it’s less damaging/dangerous than cutting yourself.

So there we are- I hope this was helpful in some way, as always feel free to leave your thoughts below.

’til next time,

Wren x

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