Self-harm is when someone hurts themselves on purpose, usually as a way of coping with difficult emotions. It often begins when a person feels overwhelmed with upsetting thoughts and feelings. Harming themselves physically can feel like a release, almost giving them a sense of relief from the emotional pain they’re feeling.
This relief is only temporary though and is often followed by feelings of guilt and even shame. As the emotional pain is still present, the person may continue to rely on self-harming in an attempt to cope, continuing the cycle.
There are no clear cut answers as to why someone might hurt themselves as every individual is different. It may be a way for them to express something they can’t put into words. This may be emotional pain, loneliness or low self-esteem.
For some, there is a particular event or experience that triggers them to start hurting themselves. This could include: – being bullied, feeling overwhelmed with school work, losing a loved one, the end of a relationship, having a poor sense of self-worth, feeling confused about sexuality, experiencing abuse (sexual, physical or emotional), having difficulties at home.
The stereotypical image of someone who self-harms tends to involve cutting. While this is a common form of self-harm, it isn’t the only way people hurt themselves. Self-harm covers any form of hurting yourself. This can include under or over-eating, overdosing/self-poisoning and even getting into fights when you know you’ll get hurt. In some cases, self-harm can be mental/emotional. This means purposefully doing things that you know will make you feel upset.
Once you get into a cycle of self-harming, it can be difficult to stop. Getting professional support can help you make changes. There are different ways to go about getting help and for many, a combination of self-help techniques and professional support is key.
It is OK to feel nervous about asking for help. It takes a lot of bravery to speak up, but remember you are worthy of support and have the right to receive help.