Self-harm (self-harm awareness day - 1st March)
What is self-harm? It’s inflicting injury or harm to oneself. It can include cutting, burning, drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, risky sex, dangerous driving etc.
People that are unable to express themselves generally retroflect (hold in) their emotions. Frustration and anger can then almost outgrow their body with nowhere to go.
Here is an example of a self-harmer that cuts: (not a client)
My anger is so intense and I don’t know what the hell to do with it! It’s red, it’s spiky and it’s f****** roaring! It’s all coiled up inside of me. I want to scream, I need to scream but no one is listening to me! So much f****** hurt and emotional pain with nowhere to go!
I cut myself out of shear madness so I can see and feel a physical pain that’s so much better. The relief to see the blood trickling down my arm eases both emotional and physical pain. And sad as it may seem but then the enjoyment of taking care of myself and my wound. I can soothe myself like no other f***** can. Call it a crazy act; call me a crazy person but self-harm actually keeps me alive.
Self-harm is a learned behaviour that has been adopted in order to survive; we are not born to hurt ourselves. And it’s not about displaying the wounds because generally scars remain hidden.
People that allow their anger to fester generally feel anger is shameful. Cutting is a way of letting the pain out; a relief. Crying out in pain releases and relieves the agony, however, screaming and shouting is generally done alone. Self-harm is a silent scream.
A counsellor would aim for both of you to explore your self-harm coping mechanisms. They will focus on supporting you with self-development to enable you to gain insight and understanding of your behaviours and feelings.
Together you could explore the reworking of fixed patterns from past to present and working in the here and now to develop new strategies and ways of thinking and coping.
Taking the first step can feel quite daunting yet you’ve found the courage to take the first step if you’re still reading this!