- Because you do not deserve to be hurt, not by anyone, not even yourself;
- Because you deserve the same compassion, kindness, and love that everyone else does, and that you would give to a friend;
- Because if you hurt yourself, you are repeating and reinforcing what your abusers or people who put you down told you, and none of that is true;
If you’re thinking of suicide, please talk to someone. Call a crisis line. Call someone who loves you. Get support. And
Please Do Not To Kill Yourself:
- Because you deserve to live, and to find happiness and joy and love and laughter. It may not seem like you can find those things right now, but they will come. You have had them once, and they will come again;
- Because things will get better, and when they do, you will want to be here to enjoy them;
- Because if you kill yourself it will deeply hurt the people who love you and care about you;
If you care about the person who’s self-harmed, and you’ve never experienced self-harm before, you may find yourself feeling nervous, anxious, or even scared. You don’t want to see them get hurt, and your immediate response may be to shut them down.
But someone who uses self-harm is already hurting, often unbearably, on an emotional and psychological level. And if they told you themselves, then they are showing you a lot of trust.
Instead of trying to stop them by shaming them or trying to control them, here is what will help:
- Come from a place of compassion;
- Understand that self-harm is NOT acting out, manipulation, or a failed suicide attempt; the person is usually trying to cope with deep and overwhelming emotional distress, pain, and often abuse or trauma;
- Do not blame, accuse, punish, or threaten; those things only make it worse;
- Ask why—and listen to the answer. Try to understand and not judge;
Self-harm is a coping method that may help us survive unbearable emotional pain, but it also hurts us. And you don’t deserve to be hurt, not ever–not even by yourself. So please be gentle with yourself.
If you can, instead of hurting yourself, try these alternatives. If you hurt yourself because of:
- Asking for a hug;
- Talking it out;
- Looking at feel-good images;
- Listening to soothing music;
- Writing, painting, or dancing it out;
It can feel hard to stop self-harming, even when you want to, when it has helped you cope for so long–pulled you out of overwhelming emotional pain, despair, depression, or trauma memories, helped you keep from killing yourself, kept yourself from talking about that trauma–however you used it. BUT even though it helped you, self-harm hurts you, too.
Every time you cut to self-harm, you risk your life. You may not believe it, but it’s true; if you cut an artery by mistake, you won’t have time to call for help. You risk infection, which untreated can become very serious. You also risk damaging your body permanently–creating nerve damage, tendon damage, and distorting your body.
And then, of course, there is the shame; the increased isolation; the constantly trying to hide it; the negative attention, judgement, or ridicule by others; the social awkwardness. The scars are forever.
So if you want to stop, I am so proud of you! That is the first step. Wanting to.
Here are some things that helped me stop self-harming:
- Love yourself, even just a little, enough to know that you don’t deserve to be hurt;
- Really take in love, kindness, and compassion from others, as well as positives;
- Talk to someone safe about your self-harm, and what is behind it (WHY you do it, what you’re trying to escape or deal with);
Self-harm is something that usually happens alone, and in secret. Those of us who hurt ourselves–or who used to hurt ourselves–may do it to relieve great emotional pain and distress; to avoid, distract from, or suppress overwhelming emotion; to try to feel better; to stop a painful memory or thought; to punish ourselves; to reenact childhood abuse or the messages our abusers taught us; to try to connect to ourselves; to keep from committing suicide; to release or express anger that we’re afraid to express to others; to silently cry out for help; to show ourselves how bad the pain is that we feel inside; or for a number of other reasons. But ultimately, hurting ourselves does just that–it hurts us….
Many people are misinformed about self-harm. Gurdon is one of them; in her June 2011 MPRNews interview she says that “self-mutilation is almost trendy.”
Whoa, there! Self-harm is never trendy.
Self-harm usually comes from intense, overwhelming emotional pain or other overwhelming emotions–basically, great emotional distress. Often, the emotional pain is so bad that inflicting physical pain is a distraction and a relief from the emotional pain. I sometimes used self-harm to keep myself from killing myself, and others have used it that way, too.