Hi again!!! I hope everyone is looking forward to some warmer weather and ready to enjoy a longer day of sunlight! This is our second newsletter going out this month and it is about spreading awareness. This month is self-harm awareness month. I wanted to provide some information about what it is, some reasons why people do it, who to reach out to for help, and ways to recover from it.
How self-harm can affect us as individuals
Self-harm involves a person intentionally hurting their bodies whether minor or not, such as cutting, burning, or taking a dangerous amount of substances. This behavior can affect anybody of any age. Some people engage in this behavior as young as 12 years old and it is reported that 10% of young people engage in self-harm behaviors.
It is important for us to remember that self-harm is not a suicide attempt or cry for help. It is a maladaptive way for people to temporarily escape their emotional pain.
There are many reasons why people engage in self-harm, particularly to feel something physical when experiencing the feeling of numbness. People also engage in self-harm as a way to reduce negative feelings and emotions they may be experiencing. People may use self-harm as a means of controlling what is happening to them and as a way to block out emotions they may not want to feel or process.
Reasons we may self-harm
Some of us find comfort and support by talking to others, especially loved ones, about how we are feeling. Unfortunately not everyone has this support, or feels comfortable telling others what they are experiencing, so they turn these feelings inwards. Some reasons people self-harm are listed below:
-Problems or arguments with family or friends
-Pressure from school and peers
-Anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem
-Any life transitions, such as moving to a different neighborhood, and school or job
Once a person starts engaging in self-harm a cycle follows. It starts with self-harm, continues to temporary relief that can result in feelings of shame and grief. Following those negative emotions, emotional suffering begins again and a person can become completely consumed and overwhelmed, which can cause panic. The cycle begins again.
Risk factors we may be faced with
Although self-harm can affect anyone of any age, some people have a higher risk factor of engaging in this behavior. Some risk factors are listed below:
Distressing life events with oneself, family, school, or all of these
Suffering from depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, and more
Experiencing a suicide of a loved one
Being part of a minority group, particularly the LGBTQ community
Not being under the care of a parent or care home
Some symptoms of self-harm
It is important for us to recognize symptoms of self-harm in ourselves and others. Here is a list of symptoms to be aware of:
Wearing clothing that covers most of the body
Trouble with interpersonal relationships
Some effects of self-harm
There are also long-term effects from engaging in self-harm so the sooner someone can reach out for help, the better. Some long-term effects are listed below:
Becoming addicted to self-harm
Lying to others about the injuries on the body
The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, shame and guilt
Isolating oneself from loved ones
How we can seek help and support
People do recover from self-harm and it is a journey and process but entirely worth it. There are many adaptive ways that the Self-Harm Crisis Text Line provides. These will be listed below:
Identifying and labeling emotions during the process of self-harm.
Try finding other physical ways to relieve emotional distress, like boxing, exercising, running, or going on a bike ride.
Discover the underlying emotions that have become associated with the need to self-harm. This one is not easy and one may want to seek out professional support like a therapist. Here at Peaceful Living Counseling, Ms. Ebony could be that professional support!
Find a support buddy, someone you trust and who will validate the way you feel, and encourage you to use healthy physical activities to relieve distress, and even do them with you!
Fortunately there is always help and guidance available for anyone struggling. There is a self-harm crisis text line that anyone can reach out to in a time of need listed right below: https://www.crisistextline.org
You can also reach out to us here at Peaceful Living Counseling for professional support and self harm counseling in Philadelphia! We want to see you happy and healthy!