Rants, Imagines and What Nots

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Imagines of Whatever is requested

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5. What is Self-Harm and How To Help With Self-Harm(ers)

(A/N: Brace yourself. LONG chapter... Took me a lot of time to research so hope it helps someone out there.. somewhere *sighs and turns head dramatically towards the invisible horizon* No seriously. If you know someone dealing with the same situation then tell 'em to read this. If you wanna talk, just message me. I'm always there for you ,my sunshine! I might not be of any help but I'm there for you. Even if you simply wanna talk, message me.) Discovering that a friend or relative self-harms can be extremely upsetting. It can be hard to understand why a person would deliberately hurt themselves, and people often go through a range of emotions, like feeling shocked, angry, saddened, confused or guilty. Self-harm can be a way of coping with problems. It may help you express feelings you can’t put into words, distract you from your life, or release emotional pain. Afterwards, you probably feel better—at least for a little while. But then the painful feelings return, and you feel the urge to hurt yourself again. If you want to stop but don’t know how, remember this: you deserve to feel better, and you can get there without hurting yourself. To help you to support the person who self-harms in an understanding and caring way, it will be useful to learn why people self-harm and about some helpful strategies before you offer your support. It is important to take self-harming seriously. A person who self-harms will describe their behavior as a way of coping with overwhelming feelings associated with difficult or painful experiences. For some it becomes addictive, a way of feeling better and re-establishing control over their emotions. It is rarely used as 'attention seeking', most self-harmers try to keep it a secret and feel very ashamed. Because self-harm is often an expression of something going on for the person internally, ask about how they are feeling, and try to explore what the issues might be. If the person does not feel comfortable talking to you, try to make sure they know you are there to listen if they want to talk, and ensure they know of other places they can go to get support. It can be very difficult for a person to stop self-harming, and it may take them a long time to do so. If the person says they want to stop, discussing ways to gradually reduce the harming can sometimes be helpful. Health professionals call this harm-minimization, either reducing the severity or frequency of the self-harming. The important thing here is that the person will need to find a different way of getting the emotions out. Cutting releases endorphins, which in a way, it actually does release pain. But in the end it really hurts your body and the more you do it, the more time you are actually taking off your life. So you're slowly killing yourselves. But it's also addicting, and when they do come out to somebody, they are immediately judged an outlawed rather than helped and comforted. I don't cut, but I know people who do. And as long as they know somebody cares for them, they try to stop. And no, just because they cut doesn't mean they're emo. But yes, the only reason a person cuts is because they're angry or depressed. The first thing to remember is that if someone has chosen to tell you that they are self-harming then you will be someone that they trust a lot. It is not easy to disclose or tell someone for the first time about something very private like self-harm. The person may have considered for a long time whether to talk to you about it or not and the fact that they have disclosed to you, even though it might be difficult for both of you, might be the first steps to finding help and changing the situation. Try not to panic or over react, they are not alone in self-harming and neither are you as someone trying to support them. Self-harm is a coping mechanism but it does not necessarily mean that the person is feeling suicidal or mean that they are at serious risk. It might sound simple but one of the most important things you can do when helping someone who self-harms is to listen. By giving the person space and time to talk about things and to have someone really listen to them can be one of the first steps in the recovery process. While you listen and talk to the person about how they are feeling, you should not promise to keep everything they are telling you a secret. This does not mean that you are going to go off and tell everyone about what they have shared with you but it is an important part of making sure both you and the person who is self-harming stay safe. Confidentiality is about keeping things that you are told between the people involved, unless someone is at risk or in danger (this could be the person who is self-harming or anyone else). Be honest and tell them if you need to tell someone else. If you believe that the person self-harming is in need of medical attention or has taken an overdose then you will need to tell someone, perhaps a teacher, youth worker or parent. If the person mentions suicide, you must take it seriously and tell a responsible adult (teacher, youth worker etc.), even if they tell you not to. Perhaps suggest that you go to talk to someone together. The person who is self-harming may be doing so because they are dealing with difficult emotions like anger, fear, worry, sadness, depression or feeling bad about themselves (low self-esteem). Self-harm can also be a kind of self-punishment for something that has happened to them, something that they have done or think they have done themselves. Here are some simple things that you can do to help the self-harmer: 1. Ask how they are feeling 2. Do not be judgemental 3. Do not make them feel guilty about the effect it is having on others 4. Let the person who self-harms know that you want to listen to them and hear how they are feeling when they feel ready and able to talk. 5. When they do discuss it with you be compassionate and respect what the person is telling you, even though you may not understand or find it difficult to accept what they are doing. 6. Do not give ultimatums such as 'If you don't stop self-harming you have to move out'. This is not helpful and it won't work. Understand that it is a long and hard journey to stop self-harming.. Some of the more common ways include: 1. Cutting or severely scratching your skin 2. Burning or scalding yourself 3. Hitting yourself or banging your head 4. Punching things or throwing your body against walls and hard objects 5. Sticking objects into your skin 6. Intentionally preventing wounds from healing 7. Swallowing poisonous substances or inappropriate objects stop 8. self-harming when they feel ready and able to do so. 9. Unexplained wounds or scars from cuts, bruises, or burns, usually on the wrists, arms, thighs, or chest. 10. Blood stains on clothing, towels, or bedding; blood-soaked tissues. 11. Sharp objects or cutting instruments, such as razors, knives, needles, glass shards, or bottle caps, in the person’s belongings. 12. Frequent “accidents.” Someone who self-harms may claim to be clumsy or have many mishaps, in order to explain away injuries. 13. Covering up. A person who self-injures may insist on wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather. 14. Needing to be alone for long periods of time, especially in the bedroom or bathroom. 15. Isolation and irritability. It’s important to acknowledge that self-harm helps you—otherwise you wouldn’t do it. Some of the ways cutting and self-harming can help Include: 1. Expressing feelings you can’t put into words 2. Releasing the pain and tension you feel inside 3. Helping you feel in control 4. Distracting you from overwhelming emotions or difficult life circumstances 5. Relieving guilt and punishing yourself 6. Making you feel alive, or simply feel something, instead of feeling numb Once you better understand why you self-harm, you can learn ways to stop self-harming, and find resources that can support you through this struggle. Although self-harm and cutting can give you temporary relief, it comes at a cost. In the long term, it causes far more problems than it solves. 1. The relief is short lived, and is quickly followed by other feelings like shame and guilt. Meanwhile, it keeps you from learning more effective strategies for feeling better. 2. Keeping the secret from friends and family members is difficult and lonely. 3. You can hurt yourself badly, even if you don’t mean to. It’s easy to misjudge the depth of a cut or end up with an infected wound. 4. If you don’t learn other ways to deal with emotional pain, it puts you at risk for bigger problems down the line, including major depression, drug and alcohol addiction, and suicide. 5. Self-harm can become addictive. It may start off as an impulse or something you do to feel more in control, but soon it feels like the cutting or self-harming is controlling you. It often turns into a compulsive behavior that seems impossible to stop. The bottom line: self-harm and cutting don’t help you with the issues that made you want to hurt yourself in the first place. So: 1. Learn about the problem. The best way to overcome any discomfort or distaste you feel about self-harm is by learning about it. Understanding why your friend or family member is self-injuring can help you see the world from his or her eyes. 2. Don’t judge. Avoid judgmental comments and criticism—they’ll only make things worse. The first two tips will go a long way in helping you with this. Remember, the self-harming person already feels ashamed and alone. 3. Offer support, not ultimatums. It’s only natural to want to help, but threats, punishments, and ultimatums are counterproductive. Express your concern and let the person know that you’re available whenever he or she wants to talk or needs support. 4. Encourage communication. Encourage your loved one to express whatever he or she is feeling, even if it’s something you might be uncomfortable with. If the person hasn’t told you about the self-harm, bring up the subject in a caring, non-confrontational way: “I’ve noticed injuries on your body, and I want to understand what you’re going through.” 5. If the self-harmer is a family member, especially if it is a child, prepare yourself to address difficulties in the family. This is not about blame, but rather about learning ways of dealing with problems and communicating better that can help the whole family. 6. Ask them how they would like you to help them. It’s okay to ask questions and not know all the answers. The person who is self-harming is probably the one who knows best how they want to be supported, so just ask. 7. Don’t accuse the person of being attention seeking, there are common misconceptions that someone who self-harms does it because they want people to notice them but the reality is that many people self-harm but do everything they can to ensure that no one else finds out. Also even if self-harm is being used by someone to get attention, that person is still struggling; self-harm is not a positive way to get the attention they are looking for and they need our support just as much as any other person. 8. While you are there for them and you will do your best to support the person who is self-harming; remember that you are not able to do everything alone. You can encourage the person to think about seeking help perhaps from an understanding GP, parent, youth worker or teacher. Don’t force them to if they don’t want to. Just let them know that you are there for them and that there is more support out there when they are ready. 9. Don’t tell them to stop. This might sound strange because of course we don’t want anyone we care about to be hurting themselves. However, because self-harm is a coping mechanism, it is something they have come to rely on to deal with difficult things at the moment. Other healthier coping mechanisms will need to be found before the person can stop self-harming and this process can take a long time. 10. Don’t focus only on the self-harm or ask the person to show you their scars/injuries. You should instead try to look at the underlying issues or the reasons behind the self-harm. By helping them to talk about the emotions/feelings/thoughts that are leading to them hurting themselves perhaps you will be able to help them manage these things in a healthier way. 11. Also try to remember how things were before you knew that the person was self-harming. They are still that same person. Don’t make everything you talk about or do be about self-harm. Do the things you were doing before you knew, like playing football, going shopping, or watching films together… The fact that they are self-harming and have told you about it is only a small part of your relationship with that person. You are not ignoring the fact that they have told you; as long as you are there to talk about the self-harm should the person want to, try to be as normal as possible. Don’t make your whole relationship about the fact that the person is self-harming. You should still be able to enjoy each other’s company without self-harm being the only thing you talk about. 12. Finally make sure that you take care of yourself. It is hard dealing with the fact that someone you know and care about is self-harming. You shouldn’t be afraid of seeking some support for yourself. Remember, you will be able to better support the person who is self-harming if you are taking care of yourself too. Deal with your own feelings. You may feel shocked, confused, or even disgusted by self-harming behaviors—and guilty about admitting these feelings. Acknowledging your feelings is an important first step toward helping your loved one. It may be helpful to encourage your friend to try some alternatives to self-harming. The following are a few things you might suggest: 1. Punching a pillow or punching bag; 2. Yell or sing loudly; 3. Take a cold shower; 4. Carry a token to remind you of something comforting or peaceful; 5. Write in a journal; 6. Color in coloring books; 7. Make a phone list of people you can call when you want to self-harm and then use it! 8. Plan activities for your most difficult time of day; 9. Ask for help. 10. Write down your feelings on a paper and then tear it up 11. Snapping a rubber band on your wrist when you feel like cutting yourself That's all for today folks! Hope you had/have/will continue to have a wonderful day Yours Truly, Ruth A. Quadros
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