“I never knew that I’d find a calmness in cutting myself. It became an addiction for me.” A client once stated this to me when working hard to make sense of her need to self-harm.
If you self-injure or know someone who does, it’s important to understand the background of these behaviors in order to conquer them.
Self-injuring behaviors are carried out to deliberately and repeatedly cause harm to one’s body, commonly by: picking/cutting/burning or pinching skin, pulling out hair, and hitting or banging body parts.
These behaviors are practiced for numerous reasons and are extremely complex. Most commonly self-injury is used as a coping mechanism for stress/anger/grief, a relief of emotional pain, a sense of recovering control over life, punishment to oneself, and to end persistent feelings of loneliness and detachment.
The principal objective related to self-harm is to RELEASE.
There are many misconceptions regarding these behaviors that impact how self-injurers understand themselves, and the type of support loved ones offer them. Self-harmers are not pursuing attention from others, nor are they attempting suicide. Many actually cut to feel alive. In fact, countless individuals use this behavior to evade the intense feelings and emotions that precede irreversible damage, like suicide. It’s vital to recognize that self-harming may be a symptom of an untreated or undetected mental health issue like: eating/personality disorders, PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
There are also a number of life events and feelings that can prompt many individuals to self- harm. For many, this behavior may be a response to childhood trauma, sexual abuse, loss, and negative self-beliefs.
There is no certain way to identify whether or not someone is self-injuring. However, here are a few common indicators: wearing only long sleeves, mysterious accidents involving the body, and scarring on the wrist, stomach, or thighs.
Self-injuring is a silent scream resulting from a build-up of noise.
If you or someone you know self-harms help fight to bring awareness to this widespread, shunned issue. Support yourself and others in learning the coping and emotional regulation skills needed to overcome. There are millions out there, just like you, who are hurting to heal. Don’t do this alone! Contact an Elttila Counselor today to vent, and receive the guidance you need. An internal healing can overpower external harming. Let us show you that release without scarring is possible!
Written by Brianna Colbert, MA, LLPC.