"Look at the individual, not the harm. Look at the person beyond the scars. Scars are not important. The person that did them is important."
I’m sorry that you’ve reached a point in your life where harming yourself seems like the only option. I have been there, I understand. I’m sorry that you are struggling so much, and therefor you are inflicting pain on yourself. I’m sorry that you may feel alone, and hopeless and therefor use self harm as a form of release, or punishment to yourself. I’m sorry that life has been so hard that you feel SO awful that this is what you have resulted in doing. I’m sorry if you have had no support around you, or no one to understand and help you, and you have felt alone during this really horrible period of your life. I went through a few periods of my life myself where my self harming was a cry for help, the only way I could physically express to people how awful and suicidal I felt all the time. I thought I was a bad person, I could never forgive myself for the mistakes I had made, and I constantly thought about all the things that I hated about myself. As my self harming period went on for a few years, I understand how hard it is to shop, and resist it when you feel like you really need to. Through my therapy, I am starting to see that physically hurting my body, only makes me feel more distressed, and makes me feel even worse. No matter how hopeless you may feel, please take this post as a reminder that you are worthy of living your life, this is not the end and you will recover. I know everything feels so so bad right now, but I promise you, it will get better. There is so much support and so many people who want to help you, please reach out to someone, don’t go through this alone. You deserve to be happy.
These are a few things that I learned whilst recovering from self harming:
Forgive yourself. We all make mistakes. When I look back on the person that I was when I was 15 and I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I really wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around. but I can look back on that now and realise, I really was in a very and place. That’s not an “excuse” for treating people badly, but I was in a really bad frame of mind. I forgave myself for being that person, and I praised myself for asking for help. Everyone goes through tricky periods of their lives and during these periods, we can all not be ourselves, and be quite difficult to be around. Even now, sometimes when my BPD is really bad, I can be difficult to be around too. But you have to remember, you are not well, you are trying your best to keep living despite it all, and you have to give yourself credit for that.
You are entitled to your own emotions, however there are other, healthier, coping mechanisms to deal with this.
Figuring out what my triggers are. Even nowadays, I am triggered by loss, whether that be a friendship or a relationship, that makes me want to hurt myself, because I feel like I’m doing something wrong, but from working hard in my therapy, I am trying my best to find healthier coping mechanisms which help me get through the bad feeling. I was aware that this was my main trigger, so when I was going through a really tough time after a break up, I tried to avoid any sort of dating or relationships for a while as I knew I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be able to deal with anymore loss, I still struggle with this now, but each day I am learning, and trying to be better.
Give yourself some credit. Remind yourself of the last time you went through something stressful but didn’t self harm, praise yourself for your strength. I remember about half a year ago, I was going through such a rough patch, my BPD felt out of control alongside being heartbroken. I was sitting in my room, crying my eyes out, completely falling apart, wondering what on earth did I do to deserve this pain. Just as I went into the bathroom to self harm, I stopped myself, reminded myself of my strength, and went down to talk to my mum about everything. I felt SO much better, and I was SO proud of myself.
If you know someone who self harms and you don’t know how to deal with it or support them here are a few tips I can give you:
Offer to go with them to find help. It’s really scary going to seek help on your own, I was really anxious to tell my family that I needed help. My mum came with me when I first went into the Priory and she sat with me the whole time which was such a comfort.
Ask them what you could do that they might find helpful. For me, when I was really struggling with my eating disorder, I just checked in with my friends and family and asked them if they could try and not talk about ‘eating too much’ or commenting on what I was eating or anything like that in front of me as it really triggered me. Sometimes you don’t realise you might be triggering someone, even though you have absolutely no intention too, asking them can be a great help incase they are too scared to tell you first.
Do not make them feel guilty about the effect it is having on others, they are in a really bad place, the last thing they need is someone making them feel worse than they already feel. Be gentle and kunderstanding.
If they decide to speak to you about it, be compassionate and respect what they are saying, even if you may not be able to understand it or find it hard to accept, support them and be kind.
Understand that recovery is a long road. It doesn’t happen overnight, don’t give them ultimatums such as “if you don’t stop self harming then we don’t want you to live with us” this does not help.
Look after yourself, it can be very upsetting and hard to see someone in such a bad way, make sure you take care of yourself too.
Below there is a link on self harm, for those who don’t know how to spot the signs, or don’t really understand it.