Self harm is a very broad term- please also note that I’m using the term ‘self harm’ instead of ‘self injury’ in this post, that’s because ‘self injury’ generally means acts of deliberately hurting yourself in the short term- cutting, burning etc, whereas self harm means anything that negatively affects your health (if I wanted to be controversial I could say that smoking and drinking would count as ‘self harm’… but that’s for another post.)
I’m writing this post because I want to open peoples eyes to low level, seemingly innocent things that they may think are alright but are actually quite harmful. Just because someone isn’t opening up their arm every day with a blade doesn’t meant they aren’t hurting themselves.
Self harm is generally viewed as more socially acceptable than self injury- binge drinking, hooking up with strangers, over or under-eating, smoking are all coping mechanisms. And generally they’re not healthy ones.
I wasn’t cutting when B died, I didn’t want to cut and I didn’t have the urge to cut- but I was self harming like crazy. I stopped eating, I slept with any man who was even half willing and I even started drinking (I don’t drink… I probably should do a post on that at some point) it was a weird and horrible period of my life… and I only realised what I was doing when my drama teacher forced me into her office and told me that I’d lost a lot of weight and that she’d noticed my frequent fainting as a result.
I coped with her death by hurting myself, the only way I know to cope with extreme emotion is by hurting myself. Over the months/years I’ve weaned myself off cutting, but other things step into the gap. Essentially I’m weaning myself onto more socially acceptable forms of self harm.
It is really, really important to identify things like this. I have a lot of friends who drink A LOT, and I also have a lot of friends who smoke- just because I cut doesn’t make me worse than them, I probably actually deal with things better than they do, it just means that what they do is more socially acceptable.
Everyone has something unhealthy that they use as a coping mechanism. Just because you’re not cutting yourself doesn’t mean that you’re not self harming.
Another point that I want to make is about quitting self injury; when you’re weaning yourself off self injury it’s really important to make sure that you’re not falling into the trap that I have, don’t just turn to something like comfort eating or smoking, make usre you have a healthy coping mechanism in place as an alternative to SI.
’til next time,