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    Thread: How to help a person who self-harms!

    1. #1
      Founding Member addy's Avatar
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      Thumbs up How to help a person who self-harms!

      Hurting yourself is NOT about attention
      Hurting yourself is NOT about wanting to kill yourself
      Hurting yourself is NOT about being an EMO
      Hurting yourself is NOT about proving how cool you are
      Hurting yourself is NOT about having a weakness of personality
      Hurting yourself is NOT always about self-hate
      Hurting yourself IS a symptom of a larger problem
      Hurting yourself IS a symptom of a larger problem which the person may not even be aware of
      Hurting yourself can be addictive


      Like any form of addiction - gambling, drugs, smoking, chocolate, porn - you simply have to do it again, only with every new time you do it, it has to be bigger in order for you to receive the same “hit”.

      This is where people who aren’t even suicidal are killing themselves by accident.

      I’m not saying that everyone who self harms isn’t suicidal, nor am I saying that anything which I have written above about what self harm is/is not is set in stone. People self-inflict for all sorts of reasons, but from my experiences not only with my own self harm but also talking with people, who do the same thing, they aren’t suicidal or weak (in fact, some of the people who self-inflict that I know personally are the strongest most beautiful souls I’ve ever met)

      I started self harming in 1993 whilst I was at school. I was able to get this under control by mid-1999 whilst working at the video shop. Throughout my time backpacking I was not having any urges to do so and thought I had it under control.

      I did relapse however during the last four months of 2000; whilst trying to cope with Rachel’s death, restarting college and after my first suicide attempt [remember that word for later; after.]

      From December 2000 to December 2006 I only self harmed on two occasions. It wasn’t until my breakdown in March 2007 that I relapsed and once more began doing so. I was able to get it under control again between May 2007 and July 2007, but suffered another major relapse, and have self-inflicted on/off since.

      The last time I self-inflicted was two days after my last suicide attempt, October 2007

      My trick with self-harming was to attack parts of my body which I could cover by throwing on some form of clothing, beit a jumper on the middle of a summer’s day or a long sleeve T-shirt on a cooler one. Always with injuries which wouldn’t leave any long-long term scars.

      I would always use similar methods and every now and then, when the mood struck, would become creative and resort to more unusual methods.

      I was never doing it because of wanting to kill myself, or hating myself, or wanting to prove how tough and resilient I was. Nor was I doing it for attention - if attention was all I was after I would release a wombat into a crowded shopping precinct or streak Brunswick Street on a Sunday afternoon.

      I’m referring to the coping mechanisms people have when their internal pain becomes too great.

      The reason I self-inflicted was as a way to control the inner conflict, pain and turmoil my mind was going through as a result of them. It wasn’t because I still wanted to die; it was because I wanted to live!

      The other times I self harmed was as a way to feel something. Life had become numb, frustrating, painful, empty and meaningless. The over-riding feeling of loneliness and emptiness is a powerful influence, because we live to feel, and if we are feeling nothing then what is the point of being alive? Again I wasn’t self-inflicting because I wanted to die, it was because I wanted to feel something: to feel like I was alive!

      Hence, why, before my third suicide attempt I did self harm - as a means to grab some physical feeling. something to convince myself not to go through with what my brain was telling me to do. However, on this instance, no matter what pain I caused myself, it didn’t work.

      Overcoming the urge to self-inflict has been one of the hardest things I have had to deal with through this tumultuous time suffering from depression.

      It has addictive qualities and as anyone who has tried giving up smoking or gambling or Lindt or badgers will know that overcoming addiction is fucking hard! Not only because of the pure level of addiction, but also because it means having to face up to whatever problem is feeding that addiction in the first place. Whatever buried pain is making us smoke, drink or gamble needs to be faced up to.

      To overcome self-harm, like with every form of mental illness, we need to start talking about it in order to understand it, in order to help people overcome and control their addiction.

      So how can you help? If you know someone who self-harms here are a few pointers:

      - Whatever they’re doing DON”T take it personally. It isn’t about YOU!
      - Be available and LISTEN to them if they need to talk.
      - ACKNOWLEDGE their pain, it won’t make it go away, but it will make it more bearable.
      - DON’T avoid the subject or pretend it’s not there.
      - ASK THEM “I know you hurt yourself and I would like to understand it a little more, could you maybe explain why you do it? I’d be grateful if you could.”
      - DON’T confiscate their “tools” (because I guarantee you this will lose their trust and they will just get more creative anyway)
      - BELIEVE in them and BE HOPEFUL
      - DON’T push them
      - TAKE the initiative and distract them; take them to the cinema, rent a DVD, bake some chocolate brownies, go to a trivia night, go for a walk, have a playful pillow or water pistol fight, hell, if they’re your bf or gf, do a seductive strip tease and get them thinking about that cute butt of yours.
      - DO spontaneous acts of kindness
      - Be available, and willing, to LISTEN if they need to talk.
      - EDUCATE yourself - slip on your Willow hat and hop on the net for some research.
      - SUPPORT them physically; call them up and tell them you’re worried about them and invite them over for a game of scrabble or a blueberry muffin.
      - SUPPORT them emotionally; go to the Doctor/Psychologist with them.
      And please, please…whatever you do…
      - DO NOT TRY TO MAKE/ORDER THEM TO STOP!!!!!!!!! If you make them feel guilty, or punish them in any way, this will just add fuel to their addiction.
      And please, please, please, please…whatever you do…remember to…
      - Take TIME OUT and recuperate, caring/loving someone who suffers from any form of mental illness is exhausting and you need to look after yourself.


      Although it’s confronting, brutal and painful to think that people you care about are inflicting this pain on themselves remember that to them it is merely an addiction. A symptom of a larger, possibly unknown illness or condition, and they just need some help and support in order to get them through it.

      As we’ve all experienced from time to time: the over-riding feeling of loneliness and emptiness is a powerful influence. It’s time to stop judging people who self harm, and start understanding what they are feeling; it’s the only way to understand their pain.
      Last edited by calypso; 31-01-17 at 19:17. Reason: Changing the wording
      "Promise me you'll always remember:
      you're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think,"


      My Blog: www.myjourneywithdepression.com
      Thanks freshstart2016 gave thanks for this post.

    2. #2
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      For me, self harm is about self hatred. It's about me feeling like I have to punish myself, I have to suffer pain because I am bad. And for me, it was a way of getting attention, because no one seemed to really think it was that bad, and I didn't really need to seek out professional help. Self harm the first time helped calm my anxiety, and other times it has connected me to my body, and relieved some of the emotional numbness I was feeling.
      Last edited by Mischief; 10-05-12 at 19:32. Reason: forum guidelines on self harm - no specifics please!

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      For me, self harming started off as being a way to cope with pain. But at points I've harmed because I've felt like a terrible person who deserves pain for all the trouble I put people through.
      I also do it out of anger too..? There have been times where I've been SO made, I'm shaking with rage. I've punched things, I've sworn, I've tried crying, but I still won't stop shaking. So I self harmed, and it calmed me down.
      Last edited by Mischief; 10-05-12 at 19:33. Reason: forum guidelines on self harm - no specifics please!

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      I self-harmed today, both because I couldn't think of anything else that might help alleviate my psychological distress. I also SH'd because I wanted the pain on the outside to somehow manifest the pain on the inside. But despite some very ugly wounds, it wasn't enough to take away my pain. It was an attempt to demonstrate my inner pain out side of my body, rather than staying trapped.
      Last edited by Mischief; 10-05-12 at 19:34. Reason: forum guidelines on self harm - no specifics please!

    5. #5
      Member Felle's Avatar
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      Self harming is familiar to me. Sometimes I hate myself so much that its the only way I can punish myself. I feel like I deserve all the pain. Iīm not thinking rationally on those moments and later I regret it. Itīs like a seizure or sth. My mind is blocked.
      I donīt like it, but I canīt avoid those situations. Its like people cant choose when or wheather they have their next panic attack. It just comes against your will

    6. #6
      Senior Member Gledge's Avatar
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      I think the original post was trying to stop people immediately assuming self harming is about self hate as opposed to saying they have nothing to do with each other. The last few posts highlight that self hate can certainly be a factor that leads people to self harm, but this is not always the case. Furthrermore the emphasis on it being an addictive behaviour is an interesting point. Therefore if self hatered leads someone to self harm initially, even if the self loathing issues are sucessful addressed/treated, a person may still find it difficult stop thus self harming ceases to be about self hatered.

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      i believe all people have some situation in which they do the thinks which is not right in others views.. i would like to tell people to keep yourself in each others shoes and then pass comments.... people who self harm are not weak.. and for the people who self harm themselve.. most of you do out of depression, most people do it for pleasure.. i would suggest.. don't do it... it will give problems in future...

    8. #8
      Senior Member Gledge's Avatar
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      Point taken Maxi, sorry. I'll bear that in mind before making future posts on this thread. I think this is a great thread to sticky and anyone interested in understanding about self harm should jump to the first post right away.

      Final note to Joshua, thanks for your concern, I do apreciate it. But don't worry my experience of SH was quite a short one while my mood was at its lowest a few months back. I've not been harming since that low, but even then it was hard to break away from it. My main reason for posting in the first place was that I wanted to reinforce the first post's point that a lot of it is to do with addiction. And that simply trying to force someone to stop can make it worse.

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      Quote Originally Posted by joshuawilson View Post
      people who self harm are not weak.. and for the people who self harm themselve.. most of you do out of depression, most people do it for pleasure..
      Your right, we arnt weak, no, MOST of us dont do it out of depression.. and no MOST of us dont do it for plesure, i personally do it to cause my self pain, the the pain i have caused others, not only does the pain take a weight off my chest, it also makes me able to forgive my self. and yes.. people do SH for things such as self hate. people SH for any reason.. you cant rule reasons out just because its not commen.
      You cant give advice on what you've not experienced your self.

    10. #10
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      Living in a world where you dont always have a say over how your thoughts, emotions, and memories will play out. Its almost a comfort to know that I still have the ability to feel. Even if it is an act of desperation or control.
      I was hesitant to share with family. Fear they wouldnt understand or think I was just a drama queen. So far so good. We use it as a guide for intervention. A relief for myself because Im not always aware of when I ve hit that tipping point.

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