World Mental Health Day 2018: Self Harm

This post covers the topic of self harm. Please do not read if you think this may be triggering. Check out my resources page for more help if you’re struggling.

World Mental Health Day 2018 has a focus on “Young people and mental health in a changing world.” I decided to write this post about something that can affect people of any age but is continuing to grow as an issue for young people.

Self harm is something that is often associated with mental illness. Although not everyone who is mentally ill does self harm, a large proportion of people who are do deal with their emotions by harming themselves. There is a lot of stigma surrounding those who self harm, with many people not understanding the reasons why someone may choose to harm themselves.

I have been dealing with self harm for a lot of my teenage (and adult) years. I used it as a coping mechanism for when I was feeling down or if I felt I had to ‘punish’ myself. Though there are many reasons why people self harm.

Self harm can come in many forms. There is the commonly mentioned act of injuring yourself, but people don’t realise is that self harm includes other damaging behaviour such as under/overeating, abusing alcohol/drugs or putting yourself in dangerous situations on purpose. As it is World Mental Health Day I decided to write this post to bring more awareness to self harm and how difficult it is to cope with.

I first self harmed when I was around 13/14. It wasn’t until a couple years later that my mum accidentally found out and I was referred to CAHMS by my GP. As time went on I learnt to manage it and didn’t find it a problem in my life anymore. Or so I told myself. I still turned to self harm whenever I felt like my life was falling apart – which started to become a lot. I also began to notice other harming behaviours I started showing. From getting blackout drunk to pushing away people that were good from me, I began to spiral into a very dark place. But I was lucky to have some important friends and family that would be there for me throughout all my ups and downs.

Something that I found which helps me when I feel like I might self harm is distracting myself when I am feeling low. I’ve realised that the feeling of wanting to hurt myself does pass and instead of forcing myself to feel better, doing things that takes my mind off everything helps for me more. I know everyone has different methods to help themselves, but this is what I’ve realised based on my own experience.

Some examples of things I do to distract myself:

  • Reading – I’ve reread the Harry Potter books so many times and they bring such a comfort for me when reading. I love getting lost in a fantasy world when I am reading and forgetting what’s going on in real life.
  • Writing – I’ve always liked writing and found out how much it helps when I’m feeling down. I’m trying to do this more often, but a lot of the time I have no energy or motivation.
  • Self care – This is something I love so much as it can be different to everyone. I have written a post about 50 self care ideas which might be useful to check out!
  • Sleep – Sometimes a nap helps a lot of things, or having an earlier night than usual. This is something that I sometimes tend to overdo though!

I’ve only listed a few examples and I hope to do a post soon which goes into more detail about different self harm examples!

Sounds a bit cliché but it’s true that you are not alone. Reaching out to someone may be the first step in your journey to recovery. Recovery is not a straight upwards journey and I know myself how many ups and downs that there can be but that is normal and things will eventually get better. Even if they get worse first, you will feel happiness again.

Hope that everyone’s okay and looking after themselves / their friends!

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