Self-harm means different things to different people. It may be a way of punishing yourself, or else of numbing painful feelings. Other times it might be a way trying to show yourself or others how bad you feel on the inside by creating something visible. Self-harming can include things like:
- Punching walls or banging parts of your body against hard surfaces
- Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia
- Swallowing toxic substances
- Pushing sharp objects under your skin
- Abusing alcohol or drugs, taking risks eg. walking home at night on unlit roads, having unsafe sex or getting into fights in order to get hurt are some other ways that people can harm themselves.
Self harm is a way of coping with unbearable feelings. It is not attention seeking, nor is it a failed suicide attempt, although people who self harm are more likely to go on to commit suicide. People who self harm tend to be very secretive about it. They may feel ashamed, or worried about being judged or labelled. If you have started to hurt yourself as a way of coping, it is important that you seek help from someone you trust.
Through counselling or therapy you will be supported to look at what issues might lie behind the self-harm, and what situations act as triggers. The reasons that people begin to hurt themselves vary a lot: there is no one quick solution for a complex problem. Your counsellor or therapist will work with you to find out what will help the most.