Self harm is disturbing. It is brutal. Yet, often it is the way I feel. It is a way to bring sensation into my the body and fill a void. Self harm is something I've battled off and on for the last 10 years. It probably is something I have battled for more than 10 years. However, right now it is what I can remember. It started out very minor. I can honestly say I never thought of the things I did as self harm. The important part for me to remember....much of what I've done (and do) is done on an unconscious level. It is almost always in times of distress and overwhelm. I often feel like my body is an empty cavern. Inside that emptiness is a bucket of emotions that are void to my knowledge. They are locked up and sealed with a ton of duct tape. It is when I inflict injury upon myself I am able to feel a small portion of those emotions...in a painful, yet satisfying, sensation.
I don't self harm because I like it. I don't believe anyone does. I hate every aspect of it. I don't like it for a moment. I struggle talking about it. It is like a drug. Drugs are addicting. Self harm is addicting. Instead of washing away all of my emotions and memory with the drug, I allow myself to for once feel something. Being able to allow the void to fill, even when it is a small smidgen of some sort of emotion.
I'm aware that many parents freak and flip out when they find out their child has been hurting themselves. I'm a parent. I can't say that I wouldn't struggle in much of the same way as many parents. Yet, because I understand some of what lies underneath the behaviors, I hope and pray that if I am presented with the same situation as many parents, I will be able to respond differently. This isn't about teens. It isn't about my children. It is about me. A 40 something adult. Struggling more with these behaviors and emotions than I ever have in my life.
Not understanding the reasons behind self harm leads people to jump to conclusions like suicide, manipulation, attention seeking, ect ect. Those who don't understand what self harm is really about believe that those who act upon the urges to hurt themselves are martyers, selfish, seeking attention, and often believe there is a need for major psychological intervention.
In some cases, the above might be true. However, in many cases it is completely the opposite. It is completely the opposite in my case. What I need is someone who is willing to truly listen and understand. I've never cut myself and even though I've never done it.... doesn't mean I don't understand it. I've battled the urges to cut myself many times in recent months. Often for me, those urges come by accident. While I'm cutting something for dinner and accidentally slip and hurt myself. The thought to follow through and cut myself again, on purpose...gets stronger and stronger.
I have recently participated in one or more of self harm behaviors. I am not proud of myself. In fact, I hate every aspect and myself. I have struggled a lot with not being able to use the tools I know I have. Finding a safe, useful, method to release and find the sensation and emotions that I am seeking.
Think for a moment or two, that your body is numb. You can not feel anything. You have completely lost all feeling. Then, paralysis starts to sink in. You get frustrated because you don't know what to do. You want the sensation back again. You want to feel your body again. What do you think you would do? Take a moment and imagine you have finally found something that will help you get that sensation and emotion you are seeking...that would allow your body to feel again. Would you act upon it? Would you take it?
I've said this before and will again, most individuals who act on self harm urges do not do it for attention. Ultimately, it is to finally feel something. It is to release an overwhelming abundance of trapped emotions.
It is helpful for me when I have someone who is willing to listen without passing judgement. This person has to understand and continue to love me through all of the hell that I put myself and them through. I have a someone in my life who does not freak out. If she could be with me I'm pretty certain she would sit with me. She has sat next to me. She has laid next to me, as I've sobbed uncontrollable and the urges to follow through have been flooding every ounce of my body.
Instead of freaking out and feeling like I need to be hospitalized she has cried with me, she has asked what she can do to help me get through every single tough patch.
This is why I am writing this post. I know there are those of you out thee who are reading this and know someone who struggles with much of the same self harm issues that I do. I want to give you some insight and reasoning behind this awful part of mental illness. I also want to challenge you to do the very same for them that I have had done for me. I have given you the perspective from someone who has and does live with it every.single.day of her life.
I leave you with my hope that you can/will take it upon yourself to listen-truly listen-to whomever it is you may know. I ask you to love this person no matter what. Unconditionally... love them with all your heart. I ask you do do your best not to judge. It is hard. I know. Lastly, I ask you to take it upon yourself to try and understand fully. From their side, not yours. This is critical if your friend, loved one, spouse, child, whomever it might be, for this person to learn to trust you.
There are extremes to self-harm in which psychiatric help is necessary, I am for not one moment saying there isn't. However, not everyone needs immediate attention. I am just trying to feel again. Feel and not be numb. It is much easier to not be so numb and regain a little bit of the feeling that I'm seeking when those around you are not freaking out about the methods in which you help yourself feel. Instead, helping them feel your love and understanding may be....all they need!