Self-Injury
Jesus never reveals our flaws to shame us, but to redeem us. sheila Walsh

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If you want to self-injure right now, or scroll down to the bottom of this page to find the crisis resources page. There is help and hope for you!

My Story of Self-Injury

Please note: This section may contain triggers for those who have experienced trauma, self-injurious behaviors/suicide, or have mental illness. Please proceed with caution! I started self-injuring when I was eleven years old. I foolishly told my brother that I didn't want to live anymore, and he said, "So why don't you just slit your wrist?" Then he gave me a razor blade and watched me cut my arm. That was the very beginning of what has been a twenty-one year battle with self-injury. My dad thinks it's just for attention. This is a common belief among people who don't understand why people self-injure. This page is designed to:

So let's begin.

What is Self-injury (Self-Harm)?

Self-injury is known by many names: self-harm, self-mutilation, self-abuse, to name just a few. It is a difficult behavior to understand. Those who do not self-injure often think it is for attention, but it's really a way to release painful emotions, much like crying does for other people. Those who do not self-injure often find the behavior disturbing, and they can judge us very harshly. We often feel shame and seek to hide the scars. I remember lying about one self-injurious behavior to a nurse, and it was clear that she didn't believe me, so I finally told some other staff member the truth. It's common for people with mental health disorders to self-injure, and it is not always a suicide attempt. In fact, it is often described as a way to stay alive. My first experience with self-injury was a suicide attempt, but subsequent self-injurious behaviors were done for several reasons:

One more myth that I want to address here is the common misunderstanding that the severity of the wounds is proportionate to the severity of the emotional pain. I'll never forget the time one of my counselors asked to see my scars, and it took a lot of courage for me to show her. I did, and she said to me, "I have seen a lot worse." I remember thinking, "Does that mean the pain isn't real?" I haven't shown anyone my scars since then; I'm afraid I'll get the same reaction. I'm ashamed, even though I have a better understanding of what self-injury is all about. I'm proud of myself every day I can go without cutting or overdosing on pills. I let the assisted living facility have control over my medications so that I can't overdose on my medications. Every day that I choose to use healthy coping skills is worth celebrating. It's the same for every person who self-injures. And when there are relapses, remember that you can always start again …you can start again right now. Or if you think the day is ruined by your choice to self-injure, just think: Tomorrow is a chance to start over. Tomorrow is a new day.

Why do People Self-Injure?

People, both teens and adults, self-injure for a variety of reasons.

Who Self-Injures?

There is a rising epidemic among teens who self-injure, but it is also common for adults. Some people who self-injure see their bodies as objects. I know that, sometimes I do that, and I believe that's because I was physically abused for so many years. People in the sexual minority are more likely to self-injure, especially bisexual females. In addition, teens who are bullied are more likely to self-injure.

You can learn more about self-injury here This is an absolutely awesome article Coping Skills

If you want to stop your self-injurious behavior,, this section is for you! Keep in mind that it takes time and effort, and there may be relapses. Be kind to yourself. Be sure to take care of yourself when you do self-injure, so make sure you have first-aid supplies on hand. Here are a variety of coping skills that may help you. It takes trial and error to see what will work. You also need support from friends/family, a counselor/therapist, psychiatrist/psychologist, psychiatric nurse, mental health case manager, etc. You choose the people in your support system who will be nonjudgmental and who understand your self-injurious behavior and support your efforts to stop. So here we go!

If you want to know why you self-injure, take this
test Here is a list of things you can do besides self-injure. Although it's written for adolescents, these techniques are helpful for adults as well.

I have a coping box. I mention it in detail on the Coping Skills page. It required great thought and the use of matching. Remember that matching asks you to determine the feelings and thoughts behind your urge to self-injure. Then you find an activity to match the feeling. Example: When I'm sad, I hug my doll that I keep in the box. When I'm feeling angry, I use my safety scissors to cut old catalogs or magazines. When I feel that I deserve punishment or pain for whatever reason, I smooth nice-smelling lotion into the areas I want to cut. You get the idea? My coping box is decorated with puff paint since I can't see, and it has things that mean a lot to me: crosses (that expresses my faith), the Bible verse John 3:16, hearts and flowers, and a baby with a huge smiley face. My best friend decorated it for me. It was great, because the decorating helped relieve her stress that particular day. The way I see it, you can't have too many coping skills, so get creative! Just keep in mind that the goal is not to do anything that will cause harm to yourself or others. There are tons of alternatives. And if you find that the only option left is to harm yourself or someone else after you have tried absolutely everything, you can call the self-injury hotline at: 1-800-366-8388
or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255
Call a therapist or psychiatrist/psychologist
or go to the nearest emergency room or psychiatric hospital.



Additional Resources IF YOU ARE IN CRISIS Contact me