By: Christine Vipond, Breaking Through Task Force Member
Have you ever gotten so mad at yourself that you ate so much ice cream that you got sick? Or punched a wall? Or said to yourself “stupid,stupid,stupid” ? All of these are a form of Self-Injury (also called self-harm). You may have heard that self-injury is when someone acts on suicidal ideation; or perhaps you have a friend who cuts their arms. Each of these behaviors is an example of self-injury, and there are many more.
The truth is, any time you or someone you know hurts themself intentionally, either to cause pain, or relief, they are engaging in self-injury. Sometime in your life, probably unconsciously, you learned that this behavior helps you to cope with fear, stress and anxiety. The problem is that hurtful behavior is not a positive way to cope with those feelings, and can lead to more harm, more anxiety, more stress and even shame. When the behavior becomes repetitive, it most likely means that there is a deep emotional distress that needs to be addressed in a positive manner.
There are many types of treatments available including psychotherapy and social support. Connecting with others is extremely important in self-harm. Evidence suggests that talking with someone you trust, a friend, loved one, your doctor, or teacher, can help you take the first steps to find care and begin to learn positive coping skills.
Need help now: Call the NAMI helpline at 800-950-NAMI or text NAMI to 741741