Self harming – Where I’m at, healthier coping mechanisms and hope!

Mental Health

I’ve been in a constant turmoil against self harming. A behaviour I began engaging in years ago.

4 years ago, my Teacher voiced her concerns regarding myself and my behaviours. She checked my arms daily for evidence of self harm. As did my Mum, Therapist and everybody involved in my care. I felt hopeless and embarrassed and I wished for nothing more than to disappear. I shrugged things off at first, I denied allegations that I had engaged in hurting myself and often lied about how my injuries occurred. I hated lying, but lies become bigger lies and the truth eventually unfolds.

I now feel hopeful and motivated for a future free from self harm, whilst assisting those who struggle with the same.

The mental torment I endured left me feeling agitated and drained. My mindset encouraged destructive coping mechanisms to handle the things I struggled to express verbally, and to tolerate the torment occurring frequently inside my mind. I felt an epitome of sadness. The minds works in often surreal ways, and I believe that the negativity and hurt we face can only strengthen us for a brighter future.

“There can’t be a rainbow without a little rain”.

It’s essential to take things day by day. Accept the stage you’re at, regardless of how agonising, and reach out for support. Understand that you’re not a failure for slipping into old habits, and you can never be defined by your struggles. If you begin to feel overwhelmed or become flooded with urges, don’t be afraid to reach out.

Thankfully, after years of therapy with various teams and specialists, and many self help guides (some helpful, some questionable) I am well on my way with stopping self harming for good. I cannot remember the last time I hurt myself intentionally, and I’m proud of my progress. I’m doing well! It’s not an overnight process, healing takes time and lots of gruelling perseverance. But my episodes are occurring less frequently and I’m determined to replace my self harming behaviours for those that promote self care and land me closer to happiness.

“Laura, if you carry on this way you’ll have lifelong scars. Is that what you want?” Of course not. But when I feel compelled to hurt myself, future prospects are the last thing on my mind.

I may have lifelong scars, but I’m working on bettering myself with the strength I am constantly developing to override every destructive urge I face. I am not my thoughts, my experiences cannot define me.

Although I remain encouraged by those who speak up about their issues -past and present- I am also well aware of the stigma surrounding self harm. Unfortunately, the subject is still broadly misunderstood and this can make reaching out for support increasingly more difficult. People believe you can “just stop” hurting yourself, when the process becomes addictive and difficult to stop. Habituation has to occur, negative behaviours need to be replaced for positive ones. The behaviour enlisted as a coping mechanism and a way to release negative thoughts, feelings and emotions rather than a form of attention seeking.

I’ve touched upon self harm in precious blog posts, which can be reached here

The truth is, lots of people who self harm feel compelled to hide themselves away due to the fear of being judged, the worries over being questioned and ridiculed. This shouldn’t be the case, and we should be working towards a more accepting and understanding society. People cope in different ways, and although it can be upsetting to see, it’s important to stem away from judgement.

We cannot be certain of what a person is going through. Choose kindness. Instead of staring, share a smile. Instead of assuming, consider asking the person how they’re feeling. It takes a considerate level of strength to show your scars in public, believe me. I used to feel compelled to hide my scars away, but I’ve come to realise that my scars do not define me. They symbolise the battles I’ve won.

I believe that distractions are the key to refraining from self harming, but I cannot speak for everybody. I also appreciate that techniques may not always work as they often require focus and patience, which can be difficult to obtain with racing, loud thoughts. I’ve been in situations countless times where distractions have felt impossible to comprehend. I’ve lacked the concentration to settle with a book and recommended distractions often failed to work in my favour.

Self harming behaviours cannot be mended solely by holding ice or by the encouragement to paint our nails. The root of the problem must be dealt with in order for people to make sufficient progress.

Our minds can easily manipulate us into believing that harming ourselves is the only way out.

Honestly? Things WILL get better. It’s cliché, but it’s true.

To access support/guidance:

If you’re struggling with self harming, please seek support. In my experience, this can be reached through accessing your GP and asking for a referral to local services, such as The CMHT (Community Mental Health Team) or CAMHS.

MIND: 0300 123 3393 or text: 86463

The Samaritans: 116 123

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