This could help...

Discussion in 'Self Harm & Substance Abuse' started by cookiemonster, Nov 6, 2009.

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  1. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    I got this leaflet from school when I was feeling pretty low and have felt it to be of some help. I don’t know who wrote it originally but I decided that it may be able to help people on here.

    Self-Harm: the facts
    Self-Harm isn’t necessarily about suicide. Sometimes people harm themselves because they want to die. But often it’s more about staying alive. People may hurt themselves to help them get through a hard time. It’s a way to cope.
    People self-harm in different ways. Some cut their arms and legs; others bang or bruise their bodies. Self-harm also includes burning, scratching, hair-pulling, scrubbing, or anything that causes injury to the body. Some people take tablets, perhaps not a big overdose, but enough to blot things out for a while.
    It doesn’t mean you are off your head. All sorts of people self-harm. Even people in high-powered jobs. It’s a sign that something is bothering and upsetting you, not that you are mad.
    Lots of people self-harm. You may not have met anyone else who self-harms and may even think you are the only one who does it. There’s a lot of secrecy about self-harm but many thousands of people cope in this way for a while.
    Its not just attention seeking. People self-harm because they are in pain and trying to cope. They could also be trying to show that something is wrong. They need to be taken seriously.
    It can happen once, twice or many times. Some people attempt suicide or hurt themselves just once or twice. Other people use self-harm to cope over a long period of time. They may hurt themselves quite often over a bad patch.
    People do stop self-harming. Many people stop self-harming – when they are ready. They sort their problems out and find other ways of dealing with their feelings. It might take a long time and they may need help. But things can get better.
    Other things can be self-harm too. Things like starving, overeating, drinking too much, risk taking, smoking and many others are types of self-harm. Some coping methods (like burying yourself in work) may be more acceptable, but can still be harmful.

    there is more of this leaflet to come yet. this is a work in progress
  2. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    Understanding yourself
    People usually self-harm because it helps them to cope or escape when they are having a really hard time.
    If you often feel in such pain that you self-harm, there is a reason, things which have happened to you to make you feel awful.

    Some of the things that may have happened to people to make them self-harm:
    • Losing someone important to them
    • Not being loved, listened to and cared for enough
    • Having too much expected of them or being put down
    • Being raped, beaten or abused in some way
    • Being seriously ill or disabled
    • Being bullied, harassed, hated or discriminated against

    Many other things have caused harm in people’s lives. These are just a few. Your personal experience is what matters.
    It might also be practical, everyday circumstances that are causing you pain or making it more difficult to cope.
    These sorts of circumstances often include:
    • Being homeless
    • Being unemployed
    • Having no money
    • Being pregnant or on your own with a baby
    • Going into prison
    • Being very isolated

    ”I started self-harming when I was little – just scratching and banging myself. It was because of all the rows and craziness in my family. It got worse when I left care and I was living on my own in this horrible room, with no support and nothing to do.”

    If things like this (or any other painful things) have happened to you, you might think you should just ‘get over it’ and cheer up. But your feelings matter and need to be taken seriously. There are ways of coping and getting yourself help.

    Still more to come...
  3. total eclipse

    total eclipse SF Friend Staff Alumni

    Thanks for great post very helpful.
  4. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    But why self-harm?

    Self-harm is often a way of coping with feelings caused by things that have happened to you. It can work in different ways:

    ”letting out the scream inside”

    ”sometimes I feel like I’m going to die from all the sadness inside me. When I cut its like my body is crying for me, letting out some of the agony”

    Often people self-harm because they feel so awful inside. Their feelings hurt so much, they are unbearable. Lots of people say that their self-harm is a way of coping with the terrible pain they feel about the things that have happened to them in their lives.
    When feelings are bottled up inside, they can become overwhelming. But often it’s hard for people to express their feelings. Sometimes they self-harm as a way of showing their hurt or sorrow.

    ”It’s like there’s all this pain inside me, and it can’t come out. When I see a wound on me its like I’m showing how I really feel inside.”

    ”taking my mind off it all”

    Sometimes people hurt themselves because it takes their mind off painful feelings. It’s like a distraction.

    ”if I’ve got a burn or something on my arm, it takes the focus off what I’m feeling. It hurts, but it lets me stop feeling the hurt inside me, which is worse”

    When people just can’t bear to think about their experiences and problems, they might self-harm to get away from it all for a while.

    Some days I wake up and it’s all there inside me, and I feel so down, and I just can’t face it. Then I’ll take some of my Mum’s pills and get out of it”

    Some of the ways people can feel before they self-harm can include:
    • Upset
    • Sad
    • Hurt
    • Depressed
    • Hopeless
    • Wound-up
    • Broken-hearted
    • Numb or dead

    You might have different ways of saying how you feel. It might be different at different times.

    ”something I’m in control of”
    You may feel that others are controlling what happens to you. Or maybe people have abused their power over you in the past. It can be pretty awful to feel powerless, whether it’s about where you live, how people treat you, getting a job or even what you feel. Other people may not realize how powerless you feel.

    ”I’ve always had to do what suited other people – different foster parents, children’s homes, schools. Nobody ever asked me what I wanted.”

    Young people are often not consulted about things that affect their lives. This is wrong and can often leave them feeling desperate.
    Injuring yourself might help you to feel you have control over something in your life. If people have hurt you in the past (or more recently), then it might feel better that you are the person hurting you now.

    ”it’s like a control thing. How deep, how often, where I cut – its all down to me. It’s my body and I’ll decide what to do with it.”

    Taking some control in this way shows you don’t want to be powerless. Perhaps you will gradually be able to take control in some of the other areas of you life.

    ”A time-bomb ticking inside me”
    Anger is a very important emotion. It’s what can fire up to help us fight something we know is wrong. It can help us stick up for ourselves. But it’s often hard to know what to do with angry feelings which build up inside. Sometimes self-injury is a way of getting out some anger.

    ”I get angry about things, it all knots up inside me, and I just want to scratch myself and slash at myself.”

    A lot of people may feel like it’s not okay for them to get angry. They may have been brought up to think it’s ‘not nice’. Or been punished if they shouted or showed any anger.
    The result of this can be that sometimes people don’t even realize they are angry. Or they think things are their fault and take their anger out on themselves.

    ”I hit myself because I’m so angry with myself – for being so stupid and pathetic, for being the sort of person bad things happen to.”

    Sometimes self-harm (even if it is hidden) can feel like a way at getting back at people you are angry with. This might happen if people have hurt you and you are scared to be angry with them:
    ”after I cut myself I feel good, like I’ve punished them, secretly. I can be talking to them and I can feel my arm and its like ‘stuff you’, like I’ve got one over on them.

    To be continued…
  5. Scully

    Scully Well-Known Member

    Letting out the scream inside. It's exactly about that.

    Thanks for posting.
  6. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    Continued from last post…

    ”Getting out the badness”

    Self-injury can be a way of punishing yourself. This doesn’t mean that you have done something wrong. It might be that other people have done something wrong to you. But this can leave you feeling guilty and bad about yourself.

    People sometimes hurt themselves so they can feel they have had the punishment they think they deserve. Then they don’t have to feel so guilty.

    Sometimes people are made to feel as though they are dirty. (This often comes from abuse or rape.)

    Its bad enough having been hurt by other people. Punishing yourself for it may make you feel better for a little while, but it means you end up being hurt all over again. It doesn’t seem fair.

    It’s good if you want to get rid of guilt, but those who hurt you are to blame for what you have suffered. Maybe its time you started being angry at them, instead of yourself.

    ”an excuse for some comfort”

    For some people self-harm is about coping with horrible feelings of emptiness inside. It can seem like nothing can fill the great, lonely space.

    Sometimes the gaping hole is about a need for some comfort. Perhaps it feels like you don’t deserve comfort. Some people have never received the love and caring they need, so they don’t know how to give it themselves.

    Self-harm can make it easier to give something to yourself. There’s something real wrong that needs taking care of.

    ”I like looking after my cuts. It’s the one time I can be really nice to myself”

    Sometimes self-harm can give you a reason to go to someone else to be looked after. It doesn’t mean you are attention seeking. It means you have a desperate need to be taken care of.

    ”showing there’s something wrong”

    Sometimes self-harm is a desperate way of trying to communicate to other people. You might be trying to send a signal that something bad is happening to you. It could be a way to show you can’t cope.

    ”People always think I’m happy and together. Even if I say that I’m down they think it’s not serious. In the end, I took tablets – not to die but to prove I wasn’t ok”

    People sometimes self-harm if they think others won’t take any notice of their feelings – that just telling them they’re hurt and angry won’t have any effect.

    ”something that’s mine”

    Sometimes self-injury can be a way of having something of your own. You might feel like you haven’t got much that’s yours, which other people don’t own or interfere with. There might not be people in your life who really know and stick by the real you.

    ”This is me”

    Self-harm might also feel like a way you try to be true to yourself. Perhaps you feel like you have to hide parts of yourself. If you can’t show your true feelings, or say what you think about things, hurting yourself can be a way of saying (even secretly) this is who I am.
    Or if you are expected to up to what people think you should be, maybe hurting yourself is a protest.

    there is still more....
  7. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    an escape hatch - suicide

    Often the reasons people kill themselves (or try to) are like the reasons people self-injure. They are in terrible emotional pain. They feel desperate. There’s also usually some other things happening:

    They’ve lost hope
    The person can’t face having to stay alive and keep feeling like this. They feel trapped and powerless. It seems like no one else cares or can help.

    they’re frightened
    Perhaps they are dreading something that is going to happen. Or scared of the consequences of something that thy have done. Maybe they think they are going to get into trouble or that someone is going to hurt them.

    they want to join someone else who has died
    ”after my mum died, I couldn’t bear going on without her. It felt so empty and pointless. Also I felt like what right did I have to live when she couldn’t? I though I should go and keep her company”
  8. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    if you feel like killing yourself...

    This booklet is not saying don’t self-harm. But killing yourself is different. We don’t want you to die.

    Sometimes knowing you could kill yourself, if things get really unbearable, can help you to cope and carry on. But if you ever seriously feel like you want to die, try to think about these things:
    • Your feelings, awful though they truly are, won’t stay the same forever. Things can get better. You can’t imagine it now, but you will have happy times again.
    • The terrible thing about suicide is that it is final. You can’t change your mind and come back.
    • If people don’t want to see how they’ve hurt you, they still wont. And anyway, you wont be around to enjoy seeing them upset and sorry!
    • You matter, and you deserve the chance to have your life and to live it in your way for you
    • There are other ways out of your situation, and there are people who will help you find them
  9. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    Why bother?

    Just because you hurt yourself doesn’t mean your safety and your health don’t matter. It’s important to the minimum. You deserve to take the best care of yourself you can, while you are self-harming

    Damage Limitation
    • Don’t mix self-harm with drugs or alcohol or you might go further than you meant to
    • Get a tetanus jab, then a booster every 10 years
    • Use only clean things to cut and don’t share
    • Don’t assume that over-the-counter drugs aren’t dangerous. You can still die of a small overdose, especially paracetamol
    • If you’re really wound up and likely to do something drastic, get yourself away from things you can hurt yourself with and try to be with people.

    taking care of yourself
    • Clean cuts gently and put on a dry, clean, non-stick dressing or use steristrips to close
    • Cool burns with cold water for up to half an hour after. Then put on an anti-inflammatory cream or dressing
    • Treat yourself calmly and kindly

    the danger zone
    Get medical help quickly for:
    • Cuts that are deep or wide
    • Bleeding that spurts or wont stop
    • Burns or scalds bigger than a 50p
    • Infection
    • Overdoses and poisons

    scared to go to A&E
    Take a friend. Be polite but stick up for yourself. You have the right to decent treatment.

    the coping methods are to come. there is some good advice in the next bit but it will be here in the morning. i'm too tired to type properly
  10. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    thinking about your life in the past

    If you want to hurt yourself, no one has the right to stop you. Self-harm may be the best way you have found to cope with your life at the moment. You may not want to give up but there are other ways of dealing.

    If you find other ways to deal with things you may not need to self-harm as often. You can stay in control and have choices about how you cope.

    thinking about your life in the past
    things which have happened in the past still affect you now. They may be partly why you self-harm. But people can get over these painful things, and there are things that can help.
    • Remembering what has happened to you
    • Believing your memories and taking them seriously
    • Allowing yourself feelings about the past
    • Seeing how your experiences have affected you

    One good thing to do is tell the story of your life. You can tell it to yourself, and to someone else (eg on here) if you want to. You can do it a bit at a time, or all at once – whatever helps you make sense of your life and your feelings.

    there are lots of ways of telling your story
    You could make a tape of you talking
    You could make a scrap book
    you could show it on a time-line
    you could post it on here
    (what I personally found to work was write it as a suicide note)
  11. Scully

    Scully Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the enormous job. It may be very helpful, and brings some reflection, and another perspective, for those who cut and understand what happens to them, or help understanding for those who don't cut. You rock big time.
  12. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    oh it isn't even finished yet... got loads more to put on. but thanks
  13. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    thinking about your life now

    Think about this: what things in your life at the minute feel good, or okay? What gets you down, makes you feel bad?

    things that are important to how you feel include:
    • Where you live and who with
    • Relationships
    • Job, school, college, or what you do with your days
    • Things you do for pleasure
    • Money and practical things

    You could think about each of these things and work out what’s good and what’s bad in your life. For instance, you might have some friends you feel good with. But there may be some other people in your life who treat you badly and make you feel horrible.

    "I realized I didn’t have to spend my time with tossers who put me down"

    Which things would you like to change? What do you need to do to change these things?
  14. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    thinking about what you want for yourself

    Often young people don’t get a chance to think about what they want or where they are going. Maybe other people have been telling them what to do their whole lives. Or nobody has ever cared and they can’t imagine much future. And anyway, it can seem like there aren’t any opportunities around.

    Often other people seem to expect you to be like them. But its important to be you, to have your own hopes and dreams and aims. If you’re not sure what you want, a good way of finding out is to imagine yourself sometime in the future. How you’d like things to be

    In your fantasy:
    • What sort of person are you?
    • Where are you?
    • What things are you doing?
    • What things are you interested in and exploring?
    • What kinds of people are important in your life?

    The next thing is to think about some small ways to begin working towards just some of these things. You can be you and go for the tings you want. There’s lots of time. It might not all be possible – but some of it will be.
  15. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    expressing yourself

    If you self-harm, it’s likely there are important feelings inside you which need to be honoured and expressed.

    Some of the feelings that hurt so much inside might have been there a long time. They might be about things that have happened in the past, as well as now. Feelings we bury don’t go away. They stay inside, making us feel miserable, frozen or wound up.

    It can be hard and painful to let out your feelings. but it can also be a big release and make more space for new, good feelings.

    ways you can express your feelings include:
    • Keeping a diary – of your thoughts and feelings
    • Talking – to someone who will listen
    • Drawing – not art, but shapes and colours
    • Writing letters – not necessarily to send
    • Writing poetry, stories or just odd words
    • Listening to music – which fits how you feel
    • Crying
    • A punchbag, dartboard etc – improvise
    • Shouting and swearing – on paper if not out loud
  16. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    Take care of youself!!!


    Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do. But its hard to let yourself. You might feel like you don’t deserve it. (you really do btw.)

    Sometimes you might think “why should I take care of myself, no one else does.” Or it might feel like if you take care of yourself the its like denying the pain you are in.

    Taking care of you doesn’t mean everything’s ok. You still need other people. But it is a good way of feeling happier.
  17. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    Believing in yourself

    You’ve probably been told lots of bad things about yourself. You need to chuck those messages out. Accept yourself – you are ok as you are. You can turn things around by thinking about good things about yourself and reasons why you don’t deserve to be put down.
  18. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    treating yourself well

    You need to look after your body and your mind. Start with small things. These can really change how you feel.

    some important things to do for yourself:
    • Make sure you get enough sleep and food
    • Find ways to relax and switch off – eg music, a relaxing bath, computer games…
    • Do things your body likes – dancing, gym, swimming…
    • Don’t be isolated – see friends, talk to people
  19. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    comforting yourself

    When you feel bad, you deserve comfort. You would probably be good at comforting someone else who was upset. You can do the same for you
    • Putting yourself to bed with a hot drink
    • A cuddle with your cat, pillow or teddy
    • Sitting under a tree or anywhere that lifts your spirits
    • Talking gently to yourself
    • Having a favourite food
    • Watching kids TV
    • Getting yourself a little present
  20. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster Banned Member

    Getting help

    If you are having a hard time, you have the right to some help with it. You deserve support. People often find it hard to go to someone else for help.

    this might be because:
    • They’re scared parents or friends will find out
    • They think its weak or stupid to need help
    • They can’t see how anyone else can help them
    • They’re worried they won’t be taken seriously, or the person will think they’re mad, or have a go at them.

    These worries and doubts are understandable. But if things are bad for you and you don’t seem to be able to sort them out on your own or with your friends or family, then you really might find it useful to go to someone else.

    You can go to places where it is confidential, and no one else will know you’ve been there or what you’ve talked about. Places where people don’t think you’re mad or stupid. Where it’s ok if you don’t know where to start. It’s their job to help you talk, and to listen and support you.
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