An Attempt At Explaining Self-Harm:

Before anyone reads this I just want to put out a brief trigger warning that this post discusses the purposes and reasons as to why people may self harm so if that would trigger you in anyway please click away and read Harry Potter instead.

As I am typing this I am honestly surprised at how uncomfortable I feel discussing this topic. I am fairly open when it comes to my mental health, partly because I am currently unable to hide it, and partly because I want to reach out to other people to either help or offer a bit of company in what can be a very lonely battle of the mind. Writing a post that acknowledges that I self harm however is somehow harder than waffling on about having anorexia, OCD or depression as I find it really embarrassing. I feel when it comes to self harm there is a particularly high level of stigma and misunderstanding, it being a common belief that people do it for attention. For this reason I feel a lot of shame admitting that it is something I struggle with, which is silly because it isn’t something to be ashamed of at all. Equally it isn’t something to be proud of, it is just something that exists as a problem for a lot of people, and so I am going to try and explain it here as best I can to anyone out there who can’t get their head round it. Maybe if more people talk about it and understand, we can all be open and able to deal with it rather than keeping it as a shameful secret that will never get better unless it is talked about.

As always I cannot speak for everyone with this issue but I am going to at least provide a list of three reasons as to why personally I struggle with self harm and perhaps other people will be able to relate. I also just want to preface these points by saying that in explaining the rationale behind self harm I am not justifying it as a good thing to do whatsoever, it is an unhealthy coping strategy that needs to be talked about and treated to find alternative ways of managing difficult feelings that are not so damaging. Still, you can’t find an alternative until you know what purpose self harm serves in general or for you personally, so here goes:

1. It provides a release: When I am feeling particularly anxious/stressed/upset, it can feel like I am physically bursting with the emotions coursing around my body. It is like that buzz of adrenaline you get when you are scared of something, your skin prickles, you can feel your heart beating and the extra energy pulsing through your veins. You are full of so much extra emotion that you are going to burst like the lid off a pan of frantically popping popcorn. Without the heat on, the popcorn kernels fit in the pan, but with the heat/distress they expand and burst all over the place because they, like the emotions and upset, take up too much room. When I feel like a bursting pan of popcorn (and we all know what a common feeling that is), self harm is a way that helps release some of the pressure, it is lifting the lid a little so that some of the popcorn banging around inside can get out.

2. It makes the pain you feel visible, understandable and treatable:  A lot of the time, feeling extremely depressed or upset for no logical reason can be frightening as you know it doesn’t make sense for you to feel so distressed over nothing. When I self harm I make the pain that is frightening me understandable. I feel the same pain I was feeling but I can see where the pain is coming from, no longer is it an unknown mental pain, I know the source. I hurt because I have a wound, the pain makes sense and I know that physical wounds can heal, I can do something about it, I know what to do to treat it, and I can be proactive in it getting better. It is still unpleasant, but it is a distraction from the mental pain that was previously occupying all of my brain space, a pain that I couldn’t treat, nor did I know for certain if it was ever going to go away.

3. It serves as a punishment to relieve guilt: Like many people in this world, with or without mental health problems, it could be argued that I have low self esteem. I find this hard to believe, as rather than low self esteem I feel I have an accurate understanding of my inadequacies as a human, a self awareness that I am a terrible person, but I have been told this is all lies and the whole low self esteem thing by many people over the years so I try my best to believe them. Anyway, because of the way I feel about myself, I feel guilty for taking up a place on this planet. I feel guilty for wandering around this planet and forcing others to deal with my presence when they would be a lot better off without me, I feel bad for using up oxygen that would better be spent passing through the lungs of someone else. Self harm is a sort of punishment to lessen the guilt of living, it is to make up for my crimes committed just by existing. I am also not asking for people to tell me that I am not a terrible person because I have never been able to believe anyone else’s opinion (which is hilarious really…I think I am the worst person in the world yet simultaneously think I am right about everything…), but if I had to give a comparison to try and help people make sense of all of this, I would basically sum this point up as “I am Dobby the house elf”. I am sure everyone has read the Harry Potter books (and if you haven’t you really should), so I won’t explain this likeness in too much detail, but basically, like Dobby, when I do something wrong I feel I have to do something to punish myself for it.

Sitting here and reading all of that back, I feel as naked as the day I arrived on this planet (remain calm, I am technically wearing clothes right now, I just feel a bit exposed considering I am letting people into a piece of my brain). Still, this is important stuff, and like I said before if nobody talks about it then self harm becomes this big taboo that will never be understood. Again, this explanation of self harm is not condoning it in any way and if you are struggling please seek help right away as there are certainly other ways to fulfil the purpose self harm has in your life. I myself am currently working to battle this issue and find alternative coping mechanisms. When I find some good ones I will certainly be making a post about them to try and help people if possible.
Until then, please stay safe everyone, take care, and know that I am sending a lot of love and support to you all.
P.S Just going to end this post with a quick clarification to clear up any confusion resulting from my comparison of myself to Dobby the house elf. Though I admit I have a self harm punishment style likeness to Dobby, that this is the ONLY similarity I have to Dobby. I want it known that, contrary to popular opinion, I am not in fact a house elf, and that my job last December was as a CHRISTMAS elf. We Christmas elves are indeed a very different species, so to make that plain, below I have provided a brief diagram to demonstrate some of the key differences between House elves and Christmas elves. I hope this helps. Thank you.

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P.P.S If you read all of this then as a reward here is a photo of me as a Christmas elf. Feel free to make it your screensaver.

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15 thoughts on “An Attempt At Explaining Self-Harm:

  1. All I heard was the sound of fish who’d drowned.
    All I saw was the inside of my eyelids.
    All I said fell short of reaching open ears.
    Word’s floating, clouding the view…
    “See no, hear no, speak no evil” leave you deaf, dumb and blind, because the bad is all that you’ll find.
    A deeply heart-felt goodbye to the part of me that dies when I decided to put others before me, yes, my heart fell asleep — boredom and fatigue.
    I always said I wanted to die smiling, to pretend I’m at peave.
    Now from my corpse beams a frigid, blank grin and once hopeful eyes are sunken in.
    Like a lullaby to the cradle is the eulogy to the casket.
    All my flaws swept under the table to grieve the porcelain doll that was me.
    Their solemn songs sang me to sleep as my body escaped me.
    Welcome down to the new world!
    Happiness is being interred!
    Such a shameful masquerade!
    Fleeting, frozen minutes on display.
    Why is evolution such a shameful thing to say?
    Can you feel your bodily decay?
    Arms are beside me, hands open wide.
    Seems I was living my life in rewind, taking so many steps backwards, not looking behind.
    Because I can sure as hell feel my brain going blank.
    If my body betrays me, this pollution to thank.
    This condition infects my cells like it controls my mind.
    Internal army, defend me behind enemy lines!
    Fragile vehicle of mine!
    Don’t abandon me yet!
    There is so much to live for that we so easily forget.
    Fascination with the fear…
    The concept escapes me.
    All encompassing fate… how it wrenches out hearts, torments our souls ans sings us all to sleep, to an eternal keep, no matter what beliefs, it sings us all…
    To Sleep.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For a period of around 2 years about 10 years ago I self harmed, and for 10 years told no one and no one knew that I had done it. Recently I felt comfortable enough to talk to someone about it for the first time and they showed me this blog. This single post has helped me more than anything else in the last 10 years in coming to terms with some of the things that I have done, and has made me feel less isolated than I can ever remember. So with every fibre of my being THANK YOU

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my goodness this comment has quite honestly made my month. It may only be the first of August but this comment is officially the highlight of the whole month already. You have no idea how much I needed this today. I am so sorry that you have struggled with self harm but beyond proud that you were able to open up to someone as nobody should ever suffer in silence. Please know there are always people out there who understand and want to support you, me included. With every fibre of MY being and even the bits that aren’t made of fibre, thank YOU X

      Like

      • I’m glad that my comment could in some way brighten your day, (especially given how amazingly helpful this blog is to me and I’m sure hundreds of other people as well). I hope that you are doing well at the moment, but if you ever need any help or support please know that I am always here if I can help you in any way. X

        Like

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