Have you ever heard someone say that ‘I’m my own worst enemy?’ It usually comes at a time when that person is so frustrated about something or someone they turn the anger in on themselves. No one said it had to make sense. But almost everyone knows how it feels.
There are many ways we harm ourselves. It can also be subliminal, for example overeating to feel better for a minute. It can also be unconscious, like when we feel hopeless and drown the pain in alcohol and drugs. Self-harm is different; it’s non-suicidal and it’s intentional.
March 1st was Self-Injury Awareness Day – an international day dedicated to raising awareness and learning about self-harming behaviors. We might not know when the people around us are suffering from self-harming behaviors. They tend to hide their physical injuries so well that friends and family members have difficulty detecting the habit. Self-Injury Awareness Day exists to shine a light on the behaviors of self-harm that often live in the shadows.
Self-harming behaviors are impulsive acts of injuring oneself, often associated with premeditative thoughts and negative feelings. Typically, if an individual manages to refrain from inflicting self-injurious acts, he or she will obsessively think about self-injury. People who engage in self-harm expect to gain relief from negative emotions or create a positive feeling toward a personal issue that makes him or her feel low. They seek to gain some kind of control. However, after injuring themselves, they often feel shame, guilt, or significant distress, leading to a vicious cycle of repetitive self-harming acts.
Due to the shame and stigma surrounding self-injury, many people experiencing self-harm are hesitant to reach out for help. This makes it important to recognize the signs and symptoms of self-injury, as well as learn how to approach self-harming individuals with compassion rather than judgement. Don’t panic and don’t judge, but do understand that self-injury is an expression for help. If you see these signs in friends or family, help them find counseling assistance:
- Unexplained scars, cuts, burns, or bruises
- Inability to handle intense emotions
- Bullying issues at work, home, or school
- Poor self-esteem
- Excessive rubbing or scratching of an area to create a rash or burn
- Having sharp objects on hand
- Wearing long sleeves or pants in hot weather
- Difficulties with interpersonal relationships
- Behavioral and emotional instability, impulsiveness, or unpredictability
- Vocalizing feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, or worthlessness
L.A. CADA provides help for people experiencing self-injury. Call us at (562) 906-2676l
And learn more here: What is Self-Harm?