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Heather

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I am trying to understand why I self harm, I mean other than because of a traumatic past, I really want to understand it.

A friend pointed the following out to me, which I thought was useful and I would share:

Self-harm: the facts

Fact
People self-harm in different ways. Some cut their arms or legs, others bang or bruise their bodies. Self-harm also includes burning, scratching, hair-pulling, scrubbing, or anything that causes injury to the body. Some people take tablets, perhaps not a big overdose, but enough to blot things out for a while. Some people hurt themselves just once or twice. Other people use self-harm to cope over a long time. They might hurt themselves quite often during a bad patch.

Fact
Self-harm isn't necessarily about suicide. Sometimes people harm themselves because they want to die. But often it's more about staying alive. People may hurt themselves to help them get through a bad time. It's a way to cope.

Fact
It's not just attention-seeking. People self-harm because they are in pain and trying to cope. They could also be trying to show that something is wrong. They need to be taken seriously.

Fact
It doesn;t mean you're off your head. All sorts of people self-harm. Even people in high-powered jobs. It's a sign that something is bothering and upsetting you, not that you are mad. You may not have met anyone else who self-harms and may even think you are the only one who does it. There's a lot of secrecy about self-harm. But many thousands of people cope in this way for a while.

Fact
Other things can be self-harming too. Things like starving, overeating, drinking too much, risk-taking, smoking and many others are also types of self-harm. Some coping methods (like burying yourself in work) may be more acceptable, but can still be harmful.

Fact
People do stop self-harming. Many people stop self-harming - when they're ready. They sort their problems out and find other ways of dealing with their feelings. It might take a long time and they might need help. But things can get better.

Fact
You can get help. If you are worried about self-harm you can get help.

Self-harm is often a way of coping with painful experiences. These might include being abused or neglected, losing someone important to you, being bullied, harassed or assaulted, or being very lonely and isolated. It helps to tell someone supportive about painful things that have happened to you and the ways these have made you feel.

http://freespace.virgin.net/basement.project/Fact Sheet - self-harm.htm

Hope this is ok to put here, I found it helpful and thought others might as well.

Heather...
 
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For me, it is mostly about punishing myself. It's really hard to think there could be a day where I don't deserve punishment. Sometimes it's about relieving anxiety.
 

Heather

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Thanks for sharing,

I mostly do it because I am unable to appropriately express my emotions.

Heather...
 
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Yeah, I understand that as well. I've pretty much given up on expressing emotions. I don't even know what I feel anymore.
 

Eunoia

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those facts are really good Heather... I think si is something that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to the outside but if you're in the moment it makes more than enough sense... I have so many emptions building inside of me, so much pressure and tension, and I am often really upset or very angry that I don't have another relief... and things seem so fine from the outside, so hurting myself in a way makes things more bearable for me... but then that doesn't explain why I si when I am sad or even can't think of one particular stressor.... I don't know if people ever really only si for one reason. what I'm wondering though, is assuming people stop si'ing- can they do so by themselves? I find myself stopping si'ing only to go back to it weeks later, mths later year after year..
 

redstar

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Hi, I'm new to the forum, hope that we shall all help each other with our experiences and different insights.
With si, for me, the impulse is to have some sort of control, because I feel very detached from my emotions and dreamlike frequently. Its a way to balance, to give a depth and complexity to my emotional state which it lacks and seem would be more 'real'. I don't know if that makes sense to many. With most of the time feeling cut off from emotion and dreamlike having the pain of self-injury reminds me that there is definitely something wrong, convincing myself that i am worthy of treatment. In childhood, the physical injuries were always cared for but the emotional often neglected, not believing pain is there if you can't see it. There's also the consideration of associating pain with love. If someone is abused but also constantly told how much they are also loved then injuring myself is also thus a form of loving and treating a wound surely.
find that writing how i feel each day... drawing, painting images of the way things feel helps when words fail..
..slightly stream of consciousness... be interested if people relate to any of these notions...
 
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what I'm wondering though, is assuming people stop si'ing- can they do so by themselves? I find myself stopping si'ing only to go back to it weeks later, mths later year after year..

Well, I think one can stop alone, but I think that the risk of taking it back up again would be much greater than stopping with the help of a therapist.

I did stop on my own for about 9.5 years and went back to it a few years ago. Maybe it's something that always lurks, but you can learn healthy ways to cope with someone's help. I'm not sure really.

I'm 36 and I started when I was pretty young, at least 26 years ago. I am at a point where it just seems too ingrained or hopeless or something. But I'm not really sure. It's hard to let go of something like this.

I think it's interesting that it can mean so many different things.
 

Banned

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I also do it as a way to punish myself. i also do it when I am overwhelmed with negative feelings and don't know how else to express them. Sometimes I do it if someone makes me angry at them, as a way to show them they hurt me, although I don't actually "show them" and they don't even know I cut.

I'm learning in therapy how to deal with all this. It will probably be a long time before I have to fight the urge, but so far even though it's a bitter battle every time, I'm doing ok. I haven't cut since August 31st and although I'm tempted, my goal is to make it to Christmas.
 

Meg

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I think for me it was a combination of punishment and also just being so overwhelmed by anxiety that I couldn't cope. I needed to release the tension somehow, and si was where I ended up.

Well done BG on being si free since August, that's great :) Good luck with your goal to make it to Christmas!
 

AMT

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for me it is more or less a mixture of the above... i feel like i deserved it and needed to punish myself, to cope with my suppressed emotions and to release them
 

Heather

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Thanks all for sharing, by reading the replies I have been able to really think. I am really sorry that you all self harm/injure, but I am slowly coming to realise that really it isn't as bad as what it seems. I mean when I self harm I have 'helped' myself at least for the short term, and I haven't harmed anyone else and most of the time it isn't suicidal for me, it is as the facts state about living!

I believe that one can stop but I think for most people it is always lurking! I have been doing it since I was very young (I was out on anti-depressants when I was 7 years old because I was doing it) so I do not have a lot of hope in stopping, however having said that I am doing it less and less.

I also think that a goal to Christmas is great and a wonderful way of trying to manage it, best wishes with that!

Thankyou again Heather...
 

jen83

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Hi,
I think its great how this foreum discusses the topic and to know Im not along.
I started cutting when I was 13. When I was 15 I got pregnant and my cutting stopped and later began to yell at people to relieve myself. 7 years later I substitue my yelling for cutting again. It seems that when my b/f and I argue or when I feel threatened or hurt in anyway I want to hurt myself. I dont understand it. I did stop cutting for the time being but have began overeating which has affected my wasit line which makes me feel like crap which will likely lead me to cutting again in the near future. I wish I knew why I do this. I know its not healthy and I would like to use more positive coping mechanisms but I wont allow myself. I know I should substitute my self destruction/ harm with more positive ways such as exercise b/c I will feel better in the end; but I have convinced myself Im not worth it.
 
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Sometimes I think it is all I have that is mine. Sometimes I think it is crying when I can't crying or stopping myelf from crying when I've cried too much.

I know it is not a friend. It's a hard thing to fight.
 

Heather

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Hi Jen and Janetr,

It is a tough one. I just admitted to my counsellor that I self harmed today. I did it a couple of days ago and have been hiding it quite well, I feel guilty about doing it, but she said we are all human and that it was just a hic up.

Wish I could give you some advice or help you but I dunno what to say or how to.

Heather...
 
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Thanks, Heather.

I guess we all just have to try to do the best we can and keep going. One day at a time, or one hour at a time.
 

Heather

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Yupp that is it isn't it!

And when I self harm I am trying to be kinder to myself about it and tell myself as the counsellor said it is a hic up it does not mean I am regressing back to my old self!

Heather...
 
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When I can't get the words out of my head, that I'm stupid, that I'm disgusting, ugly, worthless, especially worthless and trash, then I want or need to punish myself for being those things. Like in the middle of the night when things seem so hopeless sometimes. Sadly there doesn't seem to be any incentive to stop. There's just so much pain and sadness and I think I'm losing more than I can say. Too much pain.
 

Eunoia

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I really really wish that there'd be a way to get everyone through their pain, their moments of feeling so lonely, so dead, and hopeless inside... I can only suggest trying some other coping mechanism, even if you can try to do something else instead of the si for 1/2 of the time it's a success... even for once. I know you're all hurting, I hear ya! In regards to an incentive to stop, I think as long as a coping mechanims works even a little bit it's difficult to find a reason to stop or motivation to do so. but if you think about it, the way that si makes you feel abour yoursef should in itself be an incentive to stop... one day at a time I guess, and as little hope as there seems there is hope... for everyone. I used to si a lot and then stopped (more or less felt like I was forced to, circumstances..) and I don't si as much anymore but I still do when I am doing really bad or just feel really lost, stressed, hurt....empty... but my point is somehow, eventually, there must be a point when si no longer "works"....hopefully?
 
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I guess I'm at a point of telling myself it doesn't matter. It only hurts me and that doesn't matter. I don't know.
 

Eunoia

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well you're right in that when you si it doesn't "really" hurt anyone else, b/c it's your body, but I think it does hurt the people that love you who see you go through so much pain... I don't know how many people in your life know, but it hurts me seeing you hurt hun! I'm not saying this to make you feel guilty, by no means, I just mean that sometimes as much as we think we're only hurting ourselves our actions do have consequences beyond that.... or if say, no one does know, I find that if I'm irritated b/c of my si or ed etc. I let it out on other people, so in a way I am affecting them too... and they may have no idea why!

it matters b/c you are hurting yourself and you are worth so much more than you can see. It matters hun, b/c you're not happy w/ who you are and your life and so si makes things better in the st or even just adds to the list of all the things that are going wrong.... but hurting yourself is what it comes down to. I think that these things can overtake you, like it's soooo difficult to see past my ed in terms of who I really am and I think a lot of that is the same for you, but the fact is, there are other things that make you who you are and you are more than si or an ed or anything else for that matter. you're a person who deserves to be happy no matter how much you might hate yourself. life is so painful, but so beautiful (as you said yourself), so it only makes sense that w/ all that sadness there should be some happiness.....
 
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