Rudy is 14 and switching schools—again. This is his sixth school in nine years. Minnie is 35 and going through a difficult divorce. She is trying to rebuild after losing her home and many of her friends. Sandy’s oldest child just passed away in a terrible accident. She has not left her home since she heard the news. Sandy, Minnie, and Rudy may be facing different circumstances, but they are processing them the same way—the only way they know how. These individuals are cutting or using other forms of self-harm to cope with the emotional pain they are feeling.
“Other times, I look at my scars and see something else:
a girl who was trying to cope with something horrible that she should never have had to live through at all. My scars show pain and suffering, but they also show my will to survive. They’re part of my history that’ll always be there.”
― Cheryl Rainfield, Scars
When trauma strikes or when stress arises, it may trigger deep psychological pain. Many people can resonate with Cheryl Rainfield’s experiences—they are facing unimaginable circumstances and doing their best to survive. For some, the best way they know to survive is to translate their emotional pain into physical pain.
Many people who have used self-harm in the past are learning that there are other ways of handling their pain. If you are ready to learn a different way, Thriveworks Maumelle is ready to support you in that journey. Our therapists have helped many people stop injuring themselves and find true healing and hope.
More than Cutting—Self-Harm
While cutting may be the most talked-about form of self-harm, it is only one of many. Self-injury can take many forms, and the method is often personal to each individual. Examples of self-harming behavior include…
- Plucking out one’s hair—Painfully removing substantial amounts of body hair.
- Interfering with the body’s natural healing process—Undoing scabs or stitches, aggravating wounds, et cetera.
- Carving, tattooing, branding—Using words, symbols, or pictures as a part of the injury.
- Burning—Damaging skin with heat, matches, cigarettes, irons, ropes, or more.
- Pinching, biting, punching, slapping, or hitting oneself.
- Cutting—stabbing, slashing, scratching, or piercing the skin with a sharp object or knife.
People may participate in one or more of these forms when they self-injure. They may also utilize self-harm when they feel particularly stressed or triggered but cycle through other coping mechanisms under other circumstances. Others may use self-harm on a regular basis, possibly even as a daily ritual.
What Are the Risk Factors for Self-Injury?
Certain situations can increase an individual’s risk for turning to self-injury as a coping method. While the details will vary from situation to situation, people who self-harm often also face:
- A Mental Health Diagnosis: Particular mental health diagnoses are often accompanied by self-harming behaviors as a symptom or side effect. In particular, people who have been diagnosed with phobias, a conduct disorder, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, an autism spectrum disorder, depression, or schizophrenia may also self-injure.
- Intense Psychological Pain: Some who self-mutilate have lived through child abuse, neglect, poverty, domestic violence, bereavement, and more. These traumas can trigger feelings of self-hatred, shame, and guilt, and people may turn these feelings upon themselves and their own bodies.
- Drug or Alcohol Use: Often, when people self-harm, alcohol or drugs are present. One study looked at self-injury patients at a hospital in Northern Ireland, and in over 60 percent of people, alcohol played a role in their self-harm.
Finding Other Coping Techniques
If people turn to self-harm, they are most likely doing what they know to survive and process the terrible experiences they have endured. Many people, however, are learning a new way, and as the cliché goes, “when we know better, we do better.” Learning coping skills that bring health and healing is possible, and many people are learning how to stop harming themselves and instead…
- Make your emotional and physical safety a top priority. What would it like to feel safe instead of numb or panicked? What changed need to be make and what emotional wounds could be healed? Many people are learning to make choices that account for their own well-being.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a fancy word for paying attention to what you are feeling, thinking, and experiencing. Mindfulness is about getting to know yourself and allow your own values to guide your life.
- Reach out to a friend. Think about the people in your life who support you. Call them. Share as you feel comfortable. Another possibility is to join a support group for people who self-harm.
Thriveworks Maumelle Counseling for Self-Harm
These new coping skills take time and practice to learn, and people often benefit from working with a mental health professional as they discover which techniques help them the most. If you are ready to see a counselor, know that Thriveworks Maumelle has counseling appointments available for self-harm.
When you contact our office, know that a person will answer—not an automated teller or a voicemail. Our scheduling specialists will help you find an appointment that works for you—possibly even an evening or weekend session. We also accept most forms of insurance, but we do not keep a waitlist.
We hope that our clients receive the care they need when they need it. Let’s get started. Contact Thriveworks Maumelle today.