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Re: INFOBUS: Addressing the stigma of self-injury

Great discussion so far guys! It's amazing to hear so many of your thoughts and ideas. 

 

Time for the next question. 

 

It is said that self-injury is a way of coping with difficult feelings. Can anyone explain about some of these difficult feelings? What are they?

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Re: INFOBUS: Addressing the stigma of self-injury

Two of the most damaging myths are that (1) self-injury is attention seeking and (2) people only self-injure to manipulate others. Hundreds of research studies have shown that people self-injure to manage their emotional pain - not to get attention or manipulate! And people who self-injure need help..... but if they are treated as though they are 'just' attention seeking, they are very unlikely to seek help.
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Re: INFOBUS: Addressing the stigma of self-injury

It's just not... acceptable. Even if it's a widespread problem, it's still something that is hugely frowned upon and viewed almost solely as "attention seeking". And with that phrase comes a lot of negative connotations, particularly to inviduals who spend their lives trying to hide their problems (and scars) at all costs. 

I struggled with self harm for many years, and while I haven't acted on those urges for some time now, they're still often there. I still get overwhelmed with the desire to hurt myself, i still have random and vivid mental images of doing quite violent things to myself... and they're incredibly hard to deal with. If people don't believe that it's merely a cry for attention, it's often tempting for them to think that it's just 'trying to convert emotional pain into something physical that', or 'trying to make yourself feel better' due to the physiological effect it can have, or that it's being used as a 'copig mechanism'. That might be true for some people, but i have huge problems with people trying to classify the exact causes of self harm, and limiting them to a select few which they then generalise to the rest of the population. There are times when self harm is self punishment, when it's to try and lessen emotional numbness, when it's merely a manifestation of self hate that doesn't make you feel any worse or better at all... it's a complicated thing, and i think people feel the need to simplify it, partially because they believe it's a 'teen' issue and is therefore able to be narrowed down intot he category of angsty emotion dysregulation. 

It's something that has the ability to stay with people for years and years. It's not a small problem, even if people think of it as 'common' among teenagers and young people. And i think that's something that really needs to change in terms of the way society views self harm. 

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Re: INFOBUS: Addressing the stigma of self-injury

In my practice, many patients say that they don't really understand what the feelings are - just that they are painful and overwhelming.
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Re: INFOBUS: Addressing the stigma of self-injury

It is said that self-injury is a way of coping with difficult feelings. Can anyone explain about some of these difficult feelings? What are they?


As I mentioned earlier, I haven't self-harmed, so I don't feel very qualified to speak about it, but those times I have felt like I wanted to were when I was going through really intense emotions: anxiety, depression or feeeling like there were lots of things/ changes going on in my life that I was unable to control. My best friend who I mentioned earlier self-harmed because she was depressed and also because of bullying.

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Re: INFOBUS: Addressing the stigma of self-injury

It is said that self-injury is a way of coping with difficult feelings. Can anyone explain about some of these difficult feelings? What are they?

 

I suppose this would be different for everybody.

 

When I was using self-harm as a way to cope, the difficult feelings were mostly intense frustration and confusion about how I was feeling, which resulted in a mega-dose of self-hatred due to my inability to understand. And then a whole lot of negative self talk just piled on top.

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Re: INFOBUS: Addressing the stigma of self-injury

@speedof sound - thanks for joining us tonight and thanks for sharing your story. I agree that self harm is a very complex issue and that it's not fair to group everyone together in order to simplify things (especially when it is such an inidividual issue).

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Re: INFOBUS: Addressing the stigma of self-injury

@speedofsound - spot on! i don't think it's something you can generalise about at all. i imagine that though people's experiences might have similarities, each individual will have very different experiences too.
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Re: INFOBUS: Addressing the stigma of self-injury

You are quite right speedofsound, we do try to 'simplify' things are generalise to the population. The truth is, self-injury has only really been studied properly for the past 15 years, and we still have a way to go before we completely understand it. I also like what you said about reasons for self-injury. There is often more than one reason at a time for it and sometimes it can feel like there is no reason at all.
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Re: INFOBUS: Addressing the stigma of self-injury

It is said that self-injury is a way of coping with difficult feelings. Can anyone explain about some of these difficult feelings? What are they?

For me, self harming was about getting the feelings inside me out, and I wasn't able to find any other way to do that at the time. I think it was often frustration at not being able to place the underlying feelings - which I'm now able to recognise as anger, regret, shame, desperation & hopelessness.