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

Battling Depression – an ongoing journey towards happiness

Mental Health

I wanted to write this for those in need of some helpful words to hear, some reasons to carry on and a reminder of the positives in life when everything seems so dull and hopeless.

What is Depression?

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act… Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.

 

My struggles with Depression coincide with the suicidal and depressive thoughts I feel regularly. I’m not depression recovered, no. But each day I’m trying my hardest to steadily manoeuvre from the shell of a person I once was, the unrecognisable girl sat uncomfortably in the deepest, darkest depths of depression and sadness. The girl lacking motivation who saw no way out, no hope, no future. Nothing. But. Darkness. Constant feelings of failure and inadequacy painfully ruling my mind as I tirelessly battle to get to the next day despite the voice in my head telling me otherwise.

Once you’re trapped inside that dark space, it becomes very difficult to find a way out. Especially when you’re renowned for being the bright and bubbly character full of laughter, admitting you’re not okay is all that more difficult. Seemingly impossible, in fact. You become a victim of your own mind, you can’t just cheer up, the battle is against yourself and everything you believe. It’s as though you’re trapped in a pit screaming for help, but nobody is around to hear your calls of desperation. Finding any form of light begins to feel impossible; feelings aren’t facts – the best way out is always through.

Just because somebody may seem okay on the outside, it doesn’t mean they’re very well on the inside. Remember: it’s the mentality that counts, not the person’s physicality.

Healing takes time. Healing isn’t linear. There have been times I’ve struggled to leave the comfort of my bed. Times I’ve breathtakingly expressed suicidal thoughts and harmful urges towards myself and acted on destructive behaviours. I’ve cried and I’ve fought, I’ve shouted in anger and hidden myself away from The World, yet here I am. And although I’ve truly despised every moment of the times I’ve no longer wanted to be around, I’m somewhat thankful to them for enabling me to find my inner strength and for encouraging me to better myself and beat my demons.

In the recent years, it’s safe to say I’ve battled many things. All of which include things I never imagined myself to encounter. If anything, I want this to give hope to others that things will be okay – a common phase often thrown around but not so often believed. Things will be okay, and if we fight our hardest and hold onto the belief that happiness is in the distance, things will only get progressively better.

Something that’s continuing to help me keep going (aswell as the support I receive) is prioritising my own happiness, meaning I take more time to add things into my life that fill me with joy and positivity as opposed to dwelling on my thoughts lying in my bed. Sometimes, happiness seems like nothing but a distant memory and I haven’t always believed that I’m deserving of anything but misery, but spending my time volunteering with animals, making more time for my friends and my family instead of being my own worst enemy is working wonders regarding my mental wellbeing. Just going outside for a small walk is a huge improvement for me considering where I was a few years ago. Happiness comes in different forms for different people. It’s about finding something that makes your heart happy and your soul shine, with the aims of blocking out anything preventing you from feeling brighter.

Depression can’t just be cured with the click of a finger or an hour spent in talking therapy. It’ll drag you back under if you let it. Different techniques work for different people. We’re all individuals with personal treatment needs. It isn’t a matter of laughing and being cured just like that. But each day is a step towards bigger and better things, each day when you begin to find yourself again you become stronger and realise than you can, regardless of the voice saying you can’t or you shouldn’t.

“Rome is built on ruins and it quite breathtaking, what makes you think you can’t be too?”

Lastly: you’re NOT alone, you’re valid and important deserving of love, peace and contentment. Please seek help if you’re struggling. Nobody should suffer alone of in silence.

“The mountains you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.”