Self-harm is when an individual chooses to hurt themselves or make themselves feel pain in some way, this could be through cutting, burning or by doing things such as drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs.
If you are self-harming this may be because there is something worrying you or making you feel sad or angry, this might be school-related, things at home, problems with your friends or maybe bullying. If things feel like they are getting out of control and you are not sure what to do about them, then self-harming might feel like a ‘release’ or a way of controlling something in your life. It is however very dangerous, you could end up causing serious long term damage to yourself, there is also a risk of killing yourself accidentally.
What do to?
You might feel very worried or scared about telling people that you have been self-harming, but doing so will be the first step towards feeling better. Some people to talk to might be a trusted family member – your parents or grandparents, your brother or sister or maybe a teacher or youth worker you get along with. By choosing someone you trust will hopefully make you feel more comfortable and so make telling them a bit easier.
Other things that might also help you are keeping a mood diary of how you are feeling, where you are or what you are doing just before you get the urge to self-harm, this might help you to recognise what things are triggering you to feel a particular way.
By identifying your triggers, you may then be able to start recognising the urge to self-harm and how this makes you feel, such as:
- numb or disconnected with yourself and your body,
- very frightened or sad
- worried and so struggle to catch your breath or your heart might start to race.
If you are able to start recognising these urges you can then start taking some steps towards at first delaying, then reducing and eventually stopping to self-harm. Many people who self-harm find it helpful to distract themselves from the urge to self-harm by doing something else instead, this could be by:
- listening to music,
- punching a pillow; or
- writing out how you are feeling.
It might also be helpful at first to replace your self-harm with something else less harmful, such as:
- holding ice cubes
- taking a cold shower; or
- flicking an elastic band on your wrist.
Someone even started a movement to give yourself a temporary tattoo.
Your GP will be able to talk through how things are going in your life and what might be making you feel the need to self-harm. Your GP might refer you for talking treatment, this is when you will see somebody who has been trained to listen, and they will usually have dealt with other people who have self-harmed or had similar problems as yourself.
Doc ready is a really useful site to help you to prepare yourself to see the doctor.
There might also be support groups in your area, where you can meet with people who are feeling similar to how you are, or your GP might be able to suggest some online websites that offer support. If you are a child or young person, concerned about your own mental health or that of a friend and need somebody to talk to, people at Childline will be available at any time on 0800 11 11.