For Today's #SpeakUp post is written by the lovely Laura, sharing her own personal experiences about a very personal and important topic, that affects so many young people; self-harm. On my blog, I make it my mission to offer support and to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and removing the stigma that surrounds mental health. Self-harm is no different. It won't take you 10 seconds on Tumblr to see self-harm being glamorised as being something trendy and cool. Self-harm is not cool and is definitely not a joke. Laura is very brave for sharing her experiences in this post if you are affected by self-harm or know something that is, I hope you find this post reassuring and useful.
Self-harm is an upcoming problem for plenty of people, and it can be quite scary, for the person who is self-harming and their family and friends. A lot of the time people don't know how to deal with it and that is what I am going to address today. I was a self-harmer, but I no longer am and these are the tips that really helped me.
What actually is self-harm?
The NHS website says that self-harm is "Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body. It's usually a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress." People can also self-harm to punish themselves, express the distress or relieve tension. It can also be a cry for help. Ways of self-harming are through cutting or burning their skin, punching or hitting themselves or poisoning themselves with harmful chemicals. Self-harm is not a trend and is not a joke. It takes a lot for someone to want to turn all their mental pain into physical pain, and making fun of them won't help.
How can you help someone who self-harms?
If you know someone who self-harms, the best thing to do is always be there for them. If the person is self-harming because they are trying to express their emotions or are crying out for help, they probably feel alone. By talking to them about it, you are allowing them to express their selves in a healthy way. Often people are scared to tell others that they self-harm, I know I was. I felt like people were going to judge me and I was ashamed. I eventually told my friends and they gave me so much support, even if they didn't know it at the time. However, for the people who never tell their friends, it is up to their friends to notice. Some typical signs are: always wearing long sleeves and covering their body, unexplained cuts or low self-esteem. It is really important to not tell them to "Just not cut" or "Be happy".
What do I do if I you self-harm?
If you self-harm, you can overcome it, I promise. I did. I never thought I would stop thinking that I would have to harm myself but I have and now I have been clean for 6 months+. This just shows that you can do this as well. To start off with, do baby steps. Try and be clean for 1 day, then 2 days e.t.c. There are also a few techniques that are also helpful. One of these is the butterfly technique, the idea of this is to draw something on your skin where you cut/burn yourself that means something to you, like initials of your friends or band logos every time you want to cut. If you cut and the drawing is still there, it means you have killed the butterfly/band/person,
If it is really serious, you might need to see a professional about it. If this happens, please don't be scared, those people want to help you and they know what they are doing. If you are going through any of these situations, always remember to stay strong. Things do get better.
There is a lot of information to cover on this topic so here are some useful websites: