Help, I Struggle With Self Harm
Have you ever struggled with self harm? Though it’s not something people talk about, it’s really common. You’ve probably heard about it from friends, seen it on TV or struggled with thoughts of it yourself. Did you know that in Australia, 24% of women and 18% of men have self harmed at some point in their lives?
Chances are you know someone who has self harmed, or maybe it’s something you battle with yourself. That’s okay. You are not defined by this behaviour. You are more than the thoughts, the scars and the pain. It can affect anyone, anywhere. You are not a lesser person, a product of pain or the darkness that seems to wash over you. You are more than this, and you do not have to harm yourself anymore.
There are lots of myths around self harm. Stigma tells us that it can only happen to certain people, that people do it for attention, and that it is an attempt at suicide. None of these things are necessarily true. Sure, there are factors that can contribute to the behaviour; things like illness, isolation, drug abuse and family or relationship issues- but it’s something that can affect anyone because we all feel pain. Yet you don’t have to try and cope with your struggles through these actions any more. You deserve to be whole and you deserve to be happy.
Everyone feels a need to cope with their pain. There are some positive ways of doing this: through time spent with friends, listening to or making music, exercising or journaling. But there are also some ways we can choose to cope that hurt us. Often when we feel trapped and confused inside like our soul is aching, we try to control our pain by hurting ourselves.
You don’t have to hurt yourself anymore.
You are so much more than your pain.
You are so much more than this moment.
If you are struggling with the urge to self harm or have a friend who asks for help, there are some things you can suggest which fulfill the same function of relieving distress in the short term:
Remember the 4 D’s
Delay - put off until you have spoken to someone.
Distract – go for walk, play a game, draw a picture.
Divert – an activity which has a similar effect to self-harm, but without causing injury, such as punching a pillow, drawing on arm ,squeezing an ice cube, yelling really loudly in an open field. Deep breathing - use relaxation methods.
If you think your friend might be self harming, calmly let them know you love them and don’t see them any differently, but are concerned about them. It is normal for people to feel ashamed about their behaviour, so if your friend asks you not to tell anyone or threatens to hurt themselves, you still need to tell a trusted adult as your friend’s health may be at risk. You cannot save your friend, and you’re not responsible for their behaviour, but you can love them.
If you struggle, know that you are so very loved.
You can get through this, and you are strong enough to overcome it.
You are not alone.
If you are at risk of serious injury or are concerned about the safety of a friend, call 000 or 911 immediately.
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
Information and advice on mental illness
SANE Helpline 1800 18 SANE (7263)