Self Harm, Self Injury and Cutting my story is a message of hope
Self Harm at my worst
When I was hospitalized the first time for suicidal ideation I discovered self harm. It was like finding water in the desert. If you self harm you probably know exactly what I mean. Life had always been a mess of hurt, confusion, fear and anger. I was not coping well, I was not coping at all. I thought I was going to go crazy and saw insanity as salvation, lock me up and throw away the key cause otherwise life is going to kill me. This is how I was when I found self harm and it gave me something that is hard to put into words and make others understand. Lets just say that it was a coping skill that might save my life and it was very important to me.
If you are someone who uses self injury to cope with anything and everything you may not believe there is hope for a life without cutting. You may not even want a life without self harm. I didn't, I loved my self harm and had no desire to stop. This did not make me popular with the mental health community! The harder they tried to stop me from harming myself the more committed I was to harming myself.
I think one of my lowest points was in a quiet room or isolation room, if you don't 'get' the quiet room concept (they are often not very quiet at all really). I had somehow managed to get my hands on a lego block and was so determined to self harm that I used its not very sharp corner to cut myself. I have used staples and paper clips to self harm as well as razors when I could get them. It has been ten years since I stopped my self harming and I still have faint scars, can sometimes just make out the one from the lego block.
It may sound to some that I am boasting or something. I do have a reason for speaking so candidly. I had people try to give me hope back in those dark days and it was hard to believe them. They weren't as bad as me, I was incurable. Even the doctors seemed to think I would never get better. How could anyone tell me things would get better when they never had it this bad? I expect some of the people who find this page will think these same thoughts and I want them to know that I like them was not just a bit sad, I was really suffering. If you are unable to believe it is possible to ever feel any different to how you do now you are not alone and it is understandable to feel this way. You cannot just snap your fingers and magically get better, there is hope and it is a long process. No one should expect you to get over it or heal or just stop your self harm coping instantly because that is not possible. You can heal and it takes time so don't be to hard on yourself if it isn't happening fast because it wont happen fast.
If you are a family member or a friend of someone who is suffering and using self harm to cope remember that healing takes time and impatience does more harm then good. If you want to help the best thing you can do is to try not to judge your friend or family member and instead focus on any positives you can. They may love animals, or art and poetry or sports and these things can be built into a strong coping method. Self harm is just one coping skill, many coping skills are need in life and over time enough can be developed and nurtured to allow for self harm to become unnecessary and unneeded.
The thought process, use it to take control of your emotions
Has anyone ever said to you, they don't make you mad you choose to feel mad? Or some other nonsense like that? I was told that sort of thing lots of times and always thought it was a lot of BS. I guess maybe those people learned something intuitively that I did not, or they were just repeating it cause they thought it sounded good, I don't really know or care. I do understand what they were trying to tell me now and I would like to share it with you as if you can master this you can take control of your feelings and avoid a lot of hurt and anger.
So how do you control your emotions? You need to understand the process that leads to your emotions. When you understand the process you can implement changes that will lead to different emotions. We have probably all figured out that we cannot control the events in our lives, as they say shit happens. We cannot stop having emotional reactions to the events in our lives either but we can shape those reactions. When something happens there is a process that happens in an instant. There is the event that literally just happened and then there is a process that leads to our emotions that is easy to miss, to not realize has happened. This invisible step that is the one thing in our control is this, our thoughts. We experience some event and have a thought about it and this is what leads to our emotions, if we can change that thought we can change the emotion.
When I was in a therapy group to help me over come my self harm we had homework and I never did it, I found it very upsetting and avoided it most of the time. One of the therapists running the group told me off for not doing my homework. My first thought was 'he hates me because I can't do this homework, it's not fair'. Can you see how this thought could lead me to tears and anger? That is how I felt until I suddenly realized that the thought might not be true. I very quickly questioned that thought, did he hate me? Really? If he hates me would he really give a toss if I did the homework or not, would he even care if I turned up at all? It seemed doubtful, it seemed more likely that he did indeed care and wanted to see me succeed. Realizing this I could feel cared for and even loved instead of feeling hated and hurt.
This one skill alone can save you a lot of hurt and anger and so it is the one I wanted to share in this article the most. I do hope to write more articles about the triggers that lead to self harm and how to nurture and develop positive coping skills that can eventually replace the self harm coping skill but for this article I will leave it at this one skill. For now if you just try to focus on identifying the thoughts you have after an event that lead you to your emotions you will have a lot to work on! If you can find a good therapist that you trust and feel comfortable with I would highly advise that you ask them to help and support you in becoming mindful of those thoughts so that you can take control over your emotional responses.
I hope that this has helped you in some way and that you take the time to check back again for further articles. If you would like to have a great place to write short stories or poetry or well just about anything you can sign up to write on this site and people will come and read what you write. It is an amazing thing to find someone has read what you wrote and left a comment expressing how much they liked it.
Just click to sign up and create a profile for yourself, you can start writing a hub on anything you wish by clicking the 'create a new hub' button. It is not common but some people even make money through writing poetry and short stories so it is worth giving it a go if you like writing (not to mention its a great coping skill).