Self-harm is a very taboo subject. I’m sure if you have ever come across someone who has self-harmed in the past or continues to, the first question that enters your mind is ‘why’. The answer to this question is coming from someone who used to use self-harming methods as a way of coping & dealing with my emotional pain. It seems so strange almost to so many people, why would you want to inflict deliberate pain on yourself? It’s all about the mind and the endorphins that the body produces when it gets an injury of some kind.
When I was growing up, I did mild self-harm, when I was anxious or upset I’d deliberately cause carpet burns on parts of my body (face, arms, knuckles). I would also deliberately claw my cheeks with my fingernails in anger and upset. Since I’ve become an adult I’ve learnt that this was due to not being able to express my emotions properly or communicate to people around me about how I was feeling. I also unfortunately took this into my late childhood, teenage years and to a degree my early adult life.
I’ve always been under professionals involved in mental health but I owe them so much because without them, I doubt I’d be as structured as I am now! When I got into high school, at about the age of 12/13, I started to cut myself with pen lids & this is how the addiction started for me. After a sad event in my life, it then progressed into scissors and sewing needles. I didn’t get the same ‘rush’ from pen lids anymore, it didn’t take the pain away as much, so it got harder & more serious. After the sad event happened in my life, I then experienced the suicide of a family member which completely broke me, I’ve never been the same since, of course my self-injury addiction spiralled from there.
I’ve never actually been admitted to hospital or even had a serious infection due to cutting or burning myself (my main methods of self-injury). Many people say that if you only have shallow cuts or injuries that ‘you aren’t crazy enough’ or you ‘aren’t as bad’ as someone who ends up in hospital. In fact, anyone who creates deliberate pain or injury to themselves, whether that is making themselves sick, cutting, burning, hair pulling or bruising, means that they need help & support.
From someone who has struggled with self-harm for many years, it’s still hard to describe to someone the way it releases my emotions & helps me to feel better for a little while, but hopefully in this article it helps get across some of the answers as to ‘why’. The feeling you get from physical pain, compared to emotional pain is very different. When you are in desperate pain emotionally, the feeling you get when you self-harm is indescribable, the only way I can think of trying to explain it is, ‘it’s like being a kettle, you boil & boil for so long until you have to release the steam & then switch off, ready to be poured’. That is what self-harming is like, it makes sense.
Self-harm can happen for many different reasons but it can also stop for many different reasons as well. I truly believe that things can make you stronger but only you allow & want them to. For now, cutting & burning is not something I do regularly, although that doesn’t mean the urges aren’t there, I do still do low levels of self-injury, but nothing extreme.
I’m at the stage now where I want to try & help others with their recovery or the start of recovering, hence one of the reasons for this article. I want to inspire others & hopefully change a few lives. I’m nowhere near ‘recovered’, I don’t believe you can ever be fully recovered from an addiction but I have learnt that I can release my emotions without harming my body. I am still learning that my body is worth existing without being hurt. I have found different ways of dealing with my emotions & my urges. I’m still finding my voice but I take each day as it comes now.
Author: Amy Marsh
Link to social media or website: https://www.facebook.com/AmyGeorginaElizabethMarsh