If anyone reading this is recently recovering from a self-harm addiction or has self harmed, then please click away. I wouldn’t want this triggering any urges that you are still fighting. Society19 has other amazing articles to grab your attention and keep your mood positive.
To anyone who has ever self harmed,
I know this is an issue that you find difficult to discuss. I still find it hard to speak about it too, but sometimes, it takes just one conversation to let someone know that they’re not alone. It’s something that a lot of people don’t understand. You’re probably afraid to tell someone because you think they’ll see it as an act of insanity, “attention” or a sign of predetermined suicide. But I know that it’s not. Mostly, it’s a form of negative expression. You do it because you don’t know how else to release those emotions. Because you feel them building inside and you’re scared of how else they might come out. Obviously, this is just my personal experience, but I know others who have felt the same.
Please realise that you are not being judged. It is a bad habit to have but understand how difficult it can be to stop. You’re strong enough to get through it. Be gentle on yourself. You don’t realise it yet, but you’re important and you deserve to be able to treat yourself with kindness.
Never feel like you have to justify yourself.
There’s a stigma connected to the phrase, “self-harm”. Sadly, some people believe it. Many might see the scars and make assumptions. Ignore them. You do not have to justify yourself. You have your reasons and as long as you work through them, no one else needs to hear an explanation. The only ones you should considering confiding in are family members, friends or professionals. If they care, they will not ask for a justification, they will just help you work through why it’s comes to this way of self-expression.
I hope you find your alternative, there are many things to try.
Whether it’s from pent up anger, frustration, sadness, feeling like your voice is lost, it is not the only way to express those feelings. Drawing became my escape. Feeling charcoal smudge under my fingers was the most expressive and therapeutic feeling. It allows your mind to safely show your thoughts whilst also preoccupying your hands. Find your hobby. Find a new habit. Draw, write, do sports, talk to friends, find the thing that allows you to feel good again. I would always suggest something crafty or physical as it occupies your hands too. You could listen to loud music, scream into a pillow, anything! Whatever works for you is best.
It might sound like an old cliche, but know that it does get better.
A lot of people who self-harm feel like life is against them, that they’re alone or unloved perhaps. But mostly, they don’t love themselves. It does get better! Many of you who relate to this will be teenagers. You’ll feel like no one cares and that nothing could ever get better. But it can and it will. You’ll make friends who will be so supportive, you’ll find that one person who loves you even with the scars. And most importantly, you’ll find the strength to love yourself and the flaws that come with you.
Don’t pressure yourself into quitting all at once. Treat it as it is: an addiction.
Anyone who you’ve told will want you to immediately stop. Of course they will, they love you and won’t want to see you hurt yourself. But they won’t understand the struggle. Know that it’s okay not being able to stop all at once. It is an addiction. For some, going cold turkey works and I would encourage it completely. But for others, it becomes such an important crutch that you can’t let go. Do it gradually. Keep yourself open-minded and fight the urge. You will stop. You will get there eventually, so don’t pressure yourself further otherwise it’ll only make it worse.
Understand that relapsing is sometimes part of the process.
Like any addiction, you may find yourself relapsing. Fight it. My main advice is always to fight it. But don’t give up hope if you lose that fight sometimes. Be gentle on yourself and don’t beat yourself up over it. Everyone has moments of weakness and everyone feels hopeless sometimes. But you are stronger than you think. Recognise when the thoughts of self-harm are growing and find what distracts you from them. Get off social media for a bit and let yourself completely relax. See your friends, write a journal, give yourself space.
I hope you find help, someone to listen to you.
The biggest thing that can help you recover, is talking to someone. If that person is a friend or family member, great. But I would always recommend talking to a professional. Tell your GP or find a therapist. There are often many complex reasons as to why people self-harm and the professionals are the people capable of unpicking and working through them. I know it’s scary to divulge this secret, but it’s so helpful to find someone to talk and cry to. Take the first step and find someone to share your feelings with.
To anyone who has self harmed, know that you’re not alone. You’re capable of anything, you’re capable of stopping. Show yourself the love you deserve and allow yourself to be happy. Our problems are only temporary and life can get better. Take control of it yourself, find a healthy form of expression.
To anyone who has self harmed: I believe in you.