Women and Self Harm: Understanding, Coping and Healing from Self-Mutilation


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Emotional Effects of Self-Harm

Self-harm and substance abuse are strongly connected. It appears that people who misuse alcohol and other drugs are more likely to self-harm than those people who do not. This relationship could be due to the lack of self-control and poor judgment caused by substance intoxication. Self-injury is more common among people with mental health conditions than in people without mental health issues.

If someone has depression, borderline personality disorder, anxiety or eating disorders, they have a greater chance of self-injury. People living with mental health disorders may need treatment specifically for self-harm and mental illness. Lack of comfort and life stability can contribute to self-harm and trauma. Other people may self-harm just because they overhear their peers talking about the experience or they see self-injury carried out in the media.

These outside influences may spark curiosity in self-harm, which may lead to someone engaging in the act. The effects of self-harm differ between people based on various individual differences including their available support network and stressors. Self-harm makes the emotional or physical pain experienced by the individual worse over time.

Someone who self-injures may feel better briefly, but the relief is often replaced with shame and guilt, which can lead to more self-injury. This cycle is dangerous and can end with increased self-harm and a loss of positive coping skills. People engaging in self-harm may struggle with school or job performance and they may lose healthy relationships. Suicide and self-harm share many similarities, but self-harm is not always intended to be a suicidal attempt.

Evidence shows that most people who self-injure about 60 percent never consider attempting suicide of self-harm. Self-harm can quickly and accidentally escalate, though. An episode of misguided cutting or choking can end with death. Family, friends and professionals should take all self-harm seriously because it can lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts in the future.

Feelings of shame and guilt can make someone think that self-harm help is inaccessible. The truth is that many people are ready to help a person struggling with self-injury. Professional self-harm treatment is performed by a number of qualified experts including:. These professionals may employ a combination of therapy and medications to reduce symptoms and promote recovery while addressing underlying causes. Bringing up the topic of self-harm to a professional may be uncomfortable, but the benefits of treatment can outweigh the discomfort.

Those people who are interested in a more discreet and anonymous first step towards self-harm help could consider calling a hotline like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at TALK. Deciding how to help someone with self-harm triggers feelings of uncertainty. If your loved one is showing the warning signs of self-harm, express your concern from a kind and loving position.

Never yell, shame or threaten your loved one. These actions may only increase the problem. Let your loved one know you care about them and think they would benefit from seeking professional help from an expert. You can also encourage them to talk to a teacher or a trusted adult. Unless you are an expert who knows how to help someone with self-harm issues, refer your loved one to a mental health professional. Joining a support group is a helpful way to boost the effectiveness of professional mental health treatments. Rather than employ licensed therapists, support groups rely on the experience and care of other people who also experience self-harm behavior.

You can also check with local resources to see if self-harm support groups are available in your area, or you can utilize a helpful support group finder. Having issues with self-harm, substance use disorders or mental health conditions may seem overwhelming, but experts are available to assist with these problems and begin a path to recovery. If you are struggling with a substance use and co-occurring mental health disorder like self-harm, consider contacting The Recovery Village and speak with a representative to learn more about treatment options that could work for you.

American Psychiatric Association. American Psychological Association. Is self-harm the same as attempted suicide? Usually not. But if you start to harm yourself, the risk of killing yourself is greater than for people who don't self-harm. So anyone who self-harms should be taken seriously and offered help. Getting help if you are self-harming. What help is there? What if I don't get help? About 1 in 3 people who self-harm for the first time will do it again during the following year. About 3 in people who self-harm over 15 years will actually kill themselves. This is more than 50 times the rate for people who don't self-harm.

The risk increases with age and is much greater for men. Cutting can give you permanent scarring. If nerves or tendons are damaged by cutting, this can lead to numbness or weakness. How can I help myself? When you want to harm yourself The feelings of self-harm will go away after a while.

You can: Talk to someone — if you are on your own perhaps you could phone a friend. If the person you are with is making you feel worse, go out. Distract yourself by going out, listening to music, or by doing something harmless that interests you. Relax and focus your mind on something pleasant — your very own personal comforting place. Find another way to express your feelings such as squeezing ice cubes which you can make with red juice to mimic blood if the sight of blood is important , or just drawing red lines on your skin.

Give yourself some 'harmless pain' - eat a hot chilli, or have a cold shower. Focus your mind on positive things. Be kind to yourself — allow yourself to do something harmless that you enjoy. Write a diary or a letter, to explain what is happening to you — no one else needs to see it. When you don't feel like harming yourself When the urge has gone, and you feel safe, think about the times that you have self-harmed and what if anything has been helpful.

Go back in your mind to the last time when you did not want to self-harm, and move forward in your memory from there. Think about where you were, who you were with, and what you were feeling? Try to work out why you began feeling like you did. Did your self-harm give you a sense of escape, or relief, or control? Try to work out something to do that might give you the same result, but that doesn't damage you.

How did other people react? Could you have done anything else? Make an audio recording. Talk about your good points and why you don't want to self-harm. Or, ask someone you trust to do this. When you start to feel bad, you can play this back to remind yourself of the parts of you that are good and worthwhile. Make a 'crisis plan' so you can talk to someone instead of self-harming.

Being able to get in touch with someone quickly can help you control your urge to self-harm. While you are talking, your wish to harm yourself may start to go away. What if I don't want to stop self-harming?

Depression and Non-Suicidal Self Injury | Psychology Today

If you decide that you don't want to stop self-harming, you can still: reduce the damage to your body for example, by using clean blades if you cut yourself keep thinking about possible answers to the things that make you harm yourself every so often, re-consider your decision not to stop. Are there at least two people who are willing to help me stop? Do I have friends that know about my self-harming who I can go to if I get desperate?

Have I found at least two alternative safe ways that reduce the feelings that lead me to self-harm? Am I able to tell myself, and to believe, that I want to stop hurting myself? If necessary, is there a professional who will also give me support and help in a crisis? What if I harm myself and need treatment? What can I do if I know someone who self-harms? Do Talk to them when they feel like self-harming. Try to understand their feelings, and then move the conversation onto other things. Take some of the mystery out of self-harm by helping them find out about self-harm, perhaps by showing them this leaflet, or by using the internet or the local library.

Find out about getting help - maybe go with them to see someone, such as their GP. Help them to think about their self-harm not as a shameful secret, but as a problem to be sorted out. Don't Try to be their therapist — therapy is complicated and you have enough to deal with as their friend, partner or relative.

Expect them to stop overnight — it's difficult and takes time and effort. But it is an important step towards recovery and feeling better. Telling someone about your self-harm shows strength and courage; it can often be a huge relief to be able to let go of such a secret, or at least share it. It shows that you are taking charge of your well-being and doing what you need to stay healthy. Feeling listened to can help you feel more supported.

And it works both ways: if you open up it might encourage others to do the same. There are lots of people you can talk to about what you are going through. It is important to tell someone you trust and feel comfortable with, as they will be able to help and support you. Young people told us that they have been able to talk to:.

Why Do People Harm Themselves?

There are no rules about how you should tell someone. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and trust the person you decide to tell. Set time aside to talk to them. Remember you can set the pace and it is up to you how much you want to tell them.


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If you find speaking about it too difficult, you can tell someone in writing or in an email. You can even ask a friend to speak to a trusted adult on your behalf. Let them know you need help with how you are feeling. Try to focus on the thoughts and feelings behind your self-harm rather than the behaviours.

If you decide to talk to a GP or other health professional, you can take a friend or family member with you to support you. Sometimes after telling someone you may feel worse. But remember that once you get over this hurdle there is support and help available. Remember that health professionals, GPs and teachers are familiar with this issue and are there to help. As hard as it is to tell someone, sharing will take the pressure off you and help you get the right support and help available.

There are lots of support services and treatments available when you feel ready to seek help. If you seek help from your GP, it is likely they will offer you counselling, where a professional will listen and help you to work on solutions and strategies to cope with the problems you are dealing with. Talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy CBT focus on building coping strategies and problem-solving skills and have been found to be very effective in helping to reduce self-harm [21].

Other forms of counselling, like psychodynamic therapy, for instance, will help you to identify the problems that are causing you distress and leading you to self-harm [22]. It is important that you talk to your GP or a trusted health professional who will help decide the best treatment option for you. There are also a number of charities and self-help groups throughout the UK that can support you through this experience. People who have self-harmed have said that it can be helpful to hear from other young people who have experienced self-harm. More information about these sources of support is available at the end of this booklet.

I feel a lot more confident. I felt that, without them knowing, I was being held back. I no longer feel ashamed as I know people are supporting me. The problems that are causing you to self-harm can, with help and support, become more manageable over time or even go away. Things can and do get better! Take time and be patient with yourself.

Start to learn how to care for yourself. Young people who have recovered from self-harm say that changes over time and changes in circumstances in life for example moving home, changing schools, finishing exams, going to university, changing jobs or changed financial circumstances helped them to recover. Others explained that recovery was about finding new coping strategies and more helpful ways of dealing with emotions or distress.

This is also an important factor towards recovery from self-harm. It dawned on me that continually harming myself was not allowing me to grow; it was just proving that I was still here and I could feel. Asking for help and having support is very important if you are trying to stop self-harming. It is important that you do this when you feel ready to talk about it. Talking to someone is what is important.

Book Description

For young people used to carrying burdens on their own, it can be hard to receive support. Part of recovery is trusting people enough to let them help you. Talking to someone you trust can help you discover why you self-harm and help to find new ways to cope with difficulties [25]. Finding out what makes you happy, sad, angry, isolated, vulnerable or strong can help you develop other ways of dealing with these feelings. Counselling is a good way of exploring these thoughts and feelings and is available through your GP. These techniques find a release for the emotional pressure you feel without the need to harm.

If you feel the need to harm yourself, try to give yourself a goal of getting through the next ten minutes without doing so. But the most helpful to my recovery was the five minutes rule, where if you feel like you want to self-harm, you wait for five minutes before you do it, then see if you can go another five minutes, and so on till eventually the feeling that you need to is over.

Self-harm is not a positive way to deal with things. However if you are self-harming it can be difficult to stop, especially when you feel distressed or upset. Wounds and injuries of any type can be dangerous and carry the risk of infection, which can be serious, so they need to be looked after. If you have serious injury, feel unwell or feel that you are going into shock fast breathing, racing heart, feeling faint or panicked you should seek help immediately.

If you find yourself in this situation, find a trusted adult or friend who can get you the medical attention you need. Many people stop hurting themselves when the time is right for them. It is a huge step towards stopping when they begin to talk about it, because it means that they are starting to think about what might take its place eventually. You can create a safe box to help you through times when you feel overwhelmed by emotion and have the urge to harm yourself. Fill it with things that make you happy and calm, to help you to get through this feeling.

Some suggestions: activities such as crosswords, your favourite book, CD or movie. You could also include a list of things to do that make you calm when you are feeling triggered. When you are feeling overwhelmed, talk to a friend, family member or trusted adult. Let them know what you are thinking. This can help relieve the pressure that you are feeling. Make a list of people you can talk to at these times and keep it somewhere safe. Knowing who you can talk to in times of crisis at 3am, weekends or when you are at school can make it easier to ask for help when you need it.

Add these to your safe box.

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This will remind you that you are not alone and there are people you can talk to when you need to. We often drink alcohol or take drugs to change our mood or to avoid our feelings. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but like self-harm the effect is only temporary and can end up making you feel worse.

This changes how you think and feel, so can increase feelings of anxiety and depression. When it wears off you can end up feeling worse because of the effects it has on your brain and your body. Drinking alcohol or taking drugs can leave you feeling depressed or anxious, and can lower your inhibitions physically, which can lead you back to harming yourself. Visit www. Remember that there is more to you than self-harm. Do things that remind you of this and make you happy.

Women and Self-Harm: Understanding, Coping and

Maybe this is a sport, or a hobby you like doing such as writing. Doing things that you enjoy and makes you feel happy, helps you look after your mental health. It helps to improve your self-esteem and can help you remember that you are important and have value. Many young people who self-harm can be perfectionists and high achievers [31]. You might put pressure on yourself to do things in a certain way, or feel that nothing you do is good enough. Try to not be so hard on yourself about not getting things perfect. If you are worried that someone you know is self-harming, it is important to know what to look out for and what to do.

Below is some information to help you. It can be difficult to tell whether someone is self-harming. Here are some signs that might suggest someone could be self-harming [32]:. Also, there may be no warning signs at all. It is therefore important that if you suspect someone you know is self-harming, that you ask them openly and honestly.

If you are worried that someone you know is self-harming, it can be difficult to know what to do. When you are aware there is an issue, it is important that you do not wait. Waiting and hoping they will come to you for help might lose valuable time in getting them the best support and treatment to help them [33]. Be mindful that they might not feel ready or able to talk about their self-harm.

It takes a lot of trust and courage to open up about self-harm.

Women and Self Harm: Understanding, Coping and Healing from Self-Mutilation Women and Self Harm: Understanding, Coping and Healing from Self-Mutilation
Women and Self Harm: Understanding, Coping and Healing from Self-Mutilation Women and Self Harm: Understanding, Coping and Healing from Self-Mutilation
Women and Self Harm: Understanding, Coping and Healing from Self-Mutilation Women and Self Harm: Understanding, Coping and Healing from Self-Mutilation
Women and Self Harm: Understanding, Coping and Healing from Self-Mutilation Women and Self Harm: Understanding, Coping and Healing from Self-Mutilation
Women and Self Harm: Understanding, Coping and Healing from Self-Mutilation Women and Self Harm: Understanding, Coping and Healing from Self-Mutilation

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