Understanding and Addressing Self-Harm

Mental Health Blog / Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Self-harm is hard to talk about; no one wants to think of a loved one intentionally causing themselves pain.

But the reality is, self-harm is something many people do to cope. Self-harm can be done with the method most people would assume, cutting oneself, but it could also be pinching, burning, even other methods such as drug or alcohol abuse.

Difficult to discuss and often misunderstood; I understand that self-harm can isolate you when friends and family don’t understand your actions or worse misinterpret them. This can lead to feelings of humiliation or guilt, even shame. Those self-harming require support, not judgment.

There is a serious need in Ireland to educate ourselves on why self-harm seems to be the only outlet for some people when facing difficulties. And to understand that if someone is self-harming, this should not be confused with an attempt at suicide.

Imagine for a moment feeling the worst sadness you have ever felt. This could have happened at a time of loss or personal grief. Now imagine feeling this as a constant. Imagine this sadness being your default emotion. Could you then understand how someone might yearn to feel anything else at all? Even if that feeling was pain?

Or maybe you feel anxious. Sweaty and nervous in the pit of your stomach. Try amplifying this times ten. Imagine all you can hear is the sound of your racing heartbeat in your ears. Voices and images seem far away from you as if you are trapped in a bubble, a bubble that is getting smaller, slowly suffocating you, the only thing that can break through this bubble and bring you back to earth is pain. The suddenness and the shock of it, the fact that it is the only thing that feels real, could you then understand how this might ground someone? Might help bring them back to earth? This is the unfortunate reality of self-harm.

This is often what motivates those faced with tremendous mental health difficulties to inflict pain upon themselves.
This is such a distressing way to cope. This is not the only way to cope. This is not a healthy way to cope. It might feel as though the pain is a good thing, perhaps at times you even think you deserve it, but please know that in no way do you deserve to feel an ounce of pain. Much less inflict it on yourself.

I understand the difficulty that comes with self-harming; I understand that it can be addictive even, but in the long term, this is not sustainable. There are other ways to break yourself free from those feelings that suffocate you.
I provide a non-judgemental space where my clients can feel safe and comforted. Where they can feel understood, where you can feel understood.

We can work together to help identify the triggers for your want to cause self-harm. We can explore different coping strategies and find one best suited to you and your situation.
I understand that coping mechanisms are not a ‘one size fits all’ and will actively work with you to find the right strategy for you.
If you are struggling with self-harm or know someone who is please don’t hesitate to contact me. There are healthier and kinder ways to deal with this distress, I am here to help you find them.

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