Wednesday 1 March 2017

Self Injury Awareness Day 2017

Before reading this post, please be aware of references to self harm, mental illness and suicidal thoughts/tendencies, and consider whether you'll be putting yourself at risk by reading it.

Today is self injury awareness day, and whilst it's a stigma I'll fight year-round, it's good to have a dedicated day to discuss it. I wanted to bust some myths about self harm and self injury, because a good starting place when breaking down stigmas is making sure people know the truth.

"Self harm is a suicide attempt, right?" - Wrong. It is, for most people and from my experience, a way of dealing with overwhelming emotions when you can't find another way of dealing with them. It's a way of feeling something other than intense sadness, or for some people it's a way of just feeling anything at all. It doesn't mean you want to die; it means, for some, that you want to live, you want to cope with the emotion that you're feeling, and that's the only way you can figure out to do so.

"It's self-inflicted, so why should they be given help?" - Wrong again, sort of. While yeah, self injury and self harm is something people do to themselves (the clue is in the name, right?) it's something bigger than us, something out of our control, a lot of the time. It's a symptom of so many mental illnesses, and it's not an active choice.

"It's a teenage thing, a phase they'll grow out of!" - Again this isn't true; self harm affects people across a whole range of ages from young kids to fully grown adults. It's not a phase, it's an addiction and it's not an expression of teenage angst, it's a serious symptom of serious illnesses.

"Only someone who does it can understand, so." - If you're someone who believes this, then I'm sorry you suffer from such a lack of empathy. You don't have to have been in someone's shoes to understand the shit they're going through; I have plenty of understanding friends who were there for me in the depths of my self-harm, who'd never been through it themselves. Just know that, I never wanted to hurt myself. I did it because at the time, I had to.

"People who self harm don't feel pain!" - This one's just weird. No matter how many times you hurt yourself, you're still HURTing yourself. Right up until the very last time I injured myself, it fucking hurt. That's the point.

I am now clean of self harm, and have been for coming up two years, except I've stopped counting and can't remember what day it was when I finally decided enough was enough. I am so proud of how far I've come, and as hard as it was I'm so happy to be where I am now.

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