What is self-harm?

What is self-harm?Self-harm is a way of dealing with and expressing extreme emotional pain and distress. As implausible as it might sound to those that are on the outside, harming yourself makes you feel better. In fact, you may feel like you have no alternative. Injuring yourself is the only way you know how to deal with feelings like depression, emptiness, self-loathing, guiltiness, anger, grief, and loss. The drawback is that the relief that comes from self-harming does not last very long. It is like putting on a band-aid on a small cut, when you really know you need stitches. It might temporarily stop the bleeding, but it will not fix the underlying problem and it also forms its own problems. If you are like most people who self-injure, you try to keep what you are doing a secret. Perhaps you feel embarrassed or maybe you just think that no one would understand, but hiding who you are and what you feel is a heavy load. Eventually, the secret and guiltiness affects your relationships with your family and friends, and the way you feel about yourself. It can make you feel even more lonesome, insignificant, and trapped.

Self-harm includes anything you do to intentionally injure yourself. Some of the more common ways include:

Cutting or severely scratching your skin.

Burning or scalding yourself.

Hitting yourself or banging your head.

Punching things or throwing your body against walls and hard objects.

Sticking objects into your skin.

Intentionally preventing wounds from healing.

Swallowing poisonous substances or inappropriate objects.

Self-harm can also include less obvious ways of hurting yourself or putting yourself in danger, such as binge drinking, driving recklessly, taking too many drugs, and having unsafe sex.

You or someone you may know might need the help and support of a trained professional to work and overcome the self-harm habit, so consider talking to a therapist. A therapist can help you develop new coping techniques and strategies to stop self-harming, while also helping you get to the root of why you cut or hurt yourself. Remember, self-harm doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It’s an outward expression of inner pain—pain that often has its roots in early life.

4 thoughts on “What is self-harm?

  1. Very well thought out blog article! Thank you LaTrina for shedding some light on a dark subject that our society likes to cover up! I especially like this sentence: “It is like placing a Band-Aid on a small cut, when you really need stitches.” Powerful!

  2. I think that a lot of people who self-harm don’t know how to go about expressing deep emotional pain because it is taboo to express it unless to a counselor. By hiding or repressing the feelings, they are intensified and suddenly people are unable to function and wonder why. In addition to therapy, I think exercise, journaling, and finding a close friend can be healing as well.

  3. This is an important topic, and one that does not get very much attention in mainstream media. I’m glad you shared this so that people will know they’re not alone.

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