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First steps for dealing with Self Harm issues...



Well-known member
Apr 23, 2010
goodness knows!

Although there are other people who can refer a sufferer for help, the best place to start is usually with your GP. They have a wide range of routes that they can direct you down, as well as hopefully having a breadth of knowledge about the services available within the NHS. Really good GPs will also know about what voluntary or support groups are running locally.

Remember that to them self harm is probably not what they see as the main problem. They may see it as a symptom of something else that is going on underneath. They will want to check whether you struggle with other things such as anxiety or depression, and they may want to try to treat these first – before looking at the self harm. This may not be what you were expecting – but remember, if they can help you to decrease the level of difficult emotion you are struggling with it will make working on the self harm much easier. Self harm can’t be treated on its own – it’s always important to look at what it is helping you to cope with as well.

BE PREPARED! Before you visit the GP, do some preparation. Don’t just go in and try to explain it all off the top of your head. A large proportion of your GP’s work will be about mental health issues, so they should be used to talking about them, but you may not be! Before you think about what you want to say. You may want to make a list of the key points so you can refer back to them and make sure nothing has been missed (see box).

Try to be concise and avoid rambling (though we all do that sometimes!). The list will help you to do that, and to feel confident afterwards that you handled it well. As you talk to the GP, they may just listen quietly, or they may ask questions or want you to clarify certain things.

After you’ve had a chance to talk, they should explain what they would recommend for you, and what actions they would like to take. This is your chance to ask any questions and share any concerns, so do be honest.

There is no point in them prescribing pills if you know you have no intention of taking them, for example, so talk to them about your worries. You may be fighting a desire to just get it over with as quickly as possible and get out of the room, but stick with it. You’ll be frustrated later if you don’t take the chance, so take a deep breath and make sure you have said the things you wanted to.

Whatever they suggest, whoever they refer you to, remember that your GP should be the main source of support. They should know you and listen to you and coordinate any other care you are getting, so get to know them and make sure they understand where you are coming from.

Topics you might want to cover when talking to your GP:

When you first harmed what was going on then;
How often you harm;
What it is you do when you harm;
How you feel before and after you harm;
Anything you know of that is contributing to your harming or that triggers the urge to harm;
Any other feelings, thoughts or behaviours that worry you (such as suicidal thoughts or painful emotions/memories)
Any other symptoms (such as trouble sleeping or anxiety)

If you are struggling with self harm yourself, do think about taking someone with you on this first difficult trip to see the GP. It is very common for people to freeze when they face a stranger to discuss their self-harming behaviour, and sometimes having another person there can give you extra confidence and ensure you actually go through with it. It also means they can talk with you before you go about what you want to say, and offer prompts if necessary, or even help you to explain things to the doctor. Your GP will be happy to have someone in with you if that’s what you want.

Kate Middleton (2011-07-22). Self Harm (Kindle Locations 579-584). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.
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