Today is Self Harm Awareness Day

I wrote a piece for IBF awhile back that they use in their resource section, and one for Psych Central as well. Here I will sum those up a little.

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While I see the progress that we have made in understanding, treating and accepting mental illness, there is still a mountain of misinformation that is being expressed when it comes to self-harm, and I believe one of the reasons for that misinterpretation is because we’re just not talking about it enough.

Why aren’t we talking about it? Because it’s scary, uncomfortable and oftentimes distressing, and we don’t know how to fix it; but the reality is that it’s happening, and chances are it’s happening a lot more than you realize.

The silver lining here is that there is hope, there is always hope. Before we get to the resources and ways to cope and heal, we need to establish fact from myth.

A lot of people are under the illusion that self-harm is defined by that emo or goth teenager dressed in black that keeps to themselves, when in reality, self-harm does not discriminate, it’s just like mental illness in that aspect, but it is not exclusive to people who have a diagnosis of mental illness.

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Self-harm can effect anyone from any background, race or gender. However, studies have shown that there is a higher risk category for people to self-harm, these include but are not limited to:

    • Young people between the ages of 12-25
    • Inmates held in prisons or detention facilities
    • The elderly who live in extended care facilities
    • Individuals who are battling addiction, whether it be drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, and so on.
    • Individuals who have a diagnosis of an eating disorder or an anxiety disorder
    • Gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals

The thing that I find most upsetting when it comes to people who are ignorant about self-harm is that many of them take the stance that it is an attention seeking behaviour. This could not be further from the truth. Granted there are some people who do things for attention such as in the case of munchausen syndrome, but the majority of people who self-harm go to great lengths to hide what they do.

Well why do we stumble upon images of people’s wounds on social media? Chance are that those people are actually asking for help but they can’t find the words to say it out loud, instead the images speak for them, “here is the proof, please help me.”

Some people just can’t wrap their heads around the idea of someone deliberately engaging in an act that would cause them pain, hurt, and potential fatal consequences, which brings us to the question, why would people choose to self-harm?

I wish I could give you a straightforward textbook answer to this question but the reality is that there are countless reasons why someone would turn to harming themselves as a coping mechanism.

It’s not quite the same thing as someone turning to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, but to make it easier to understand, you can kind of put it on the same scale. Some of the reasons that people self-harm are as follows, but not limited to:

    • Feelings of intense emotional pain or distress
    • A way to turn emotional pain into physical painFeeling numbness, using self-harm as a way to feel something
    • Pressure from others, not knowing how to cope
    • Bullying
    • Flashbacks or painful memories
    • Confusion about sexuality
    • Abuse of any kind: sexual, physical or emotional
    • Loss of control over emotions or situations

Another misconception that arises when someone self-harms is that they are suicidal. While it is believed that people who engage in self-harm behaviours are eventually at a greater risk of attempting suicide, that does not mean that they were intending to end their life at the time of the action; but there is always the chance of people hurting themselves more than they had intended to which can result in death.

Some people sadly even brush off self-harm if they deem that the injuries are not serious enough to warrant concern.

The severity of the injury to the pain that someone is experiencing is not comparable at all, end of story. It doesn’t matter if someone has scratched themselves or tried to poison themselves, self-harm is self-harm, there is no scale to measure how important or unimportant you believe it to be.

When the majority of people hear self-harm they think of cutting when in reality there are so many different methods that people use. Here are just some of those methods:

    • Cutting
    • Burning
    • Scratching
    • Bruising
    • Pulling hair
    • Taking pills or ingesting harmful substances
    • Inserting objects into body
    • Breaking bones

One of the scariest things is finding out that someone you care about is hurting themselves. You’re going to go through so many different emotions in such a short amount of time and that will floor you; there is no argument there. But, there are ways to ease your pain and make sure that you are okay.

The first thing that you must realize is that you can’t fix them. You can’t tell them to stop and expect them to do so, think of that as telling someone with depression to “snap out of it” because it’s pretty much the same thing.

What you can do if you suspect that someone that you care about is harming himself or herself is simply to ask them. I promise you that if they aren’t doing it, asking them isn’t going to make them start, but it will open up a dialogue for you to have a really important conversation.

If you find out that someone is in fact hurting themselves never be judgmental. You must look past the behaviour and see the person. Ask them what is going on in their life that could be causing this behaviour.

Self-harm is a coping mechanism, albeit a very unhealthy one, but one it is. If they don’t want to talk, don’t push it but let them know that you are there to listen. Encourage them to seek help from a therapist or doctor.

You must understand that the road to recovery is littered with relapse and giving ultimatums is one of the worst things that you can do.

Above all you have to take care of yourself! This is a huge thing for you to deal with. Arm yourself with knowledge and resources, but make sure that you have someone to confide in.

If you are the one who is self-harming, please don’t give up. I promise you that you can recover from this. I’m not just another person blowing smoke at you; I’m someone who used self-harm as an unhealthy coping mechanism for ten years.

It’s been seven years now since I’ve hurt myself. You can do this!

The first thing that you must understand is that relapse is a very real possibility and if it happens it doesn’t mean that you can’t start over again.

The hardest thing about choosing to get well is that you have to want it. You have to put in the effort and you have to fight for it. You must make a commitment to do this. It’s hard, I’m not going to lie, but it’s doable and you are worth it.

One of the best things that I did was talk to people who were in recovery from self-harm, they gave me hope and I realized that I wasn’t alone and that I could find healthy coping techniques.

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Here are some alternatives for you. Instead of hurting yourself, give these a try:

    • Write your feelings down and then tear them up. Feelings come and go and you don’t need to keep re-reading something that is upsetting or triggering.
    • Move around. Exercising or dancing releases endorphins in your brain that make you happy.
    • Run ice cubes down your arms or legs
    • Freeze an orange and then hold it in your fingertips for a brief time
    • Draw a picture of yourself and mark it where you want to hurt yourself.
    • Scream and yell out your frustrations
    • Throw some pillows around; punch them if you have to.
    • Color or paint, make it as pretty or ugly as you want.
    • Make something, anything.
    • Fill a mason jar with colored water and glitter; shake it when you’re stressed.
    • Ask for help, it’s a hard thing to do but also one of the bravest and strongest.

There are so many resources out there to help you understand self-harm and get help for it, here are a few:

The Butterfly Project – for preventing a relapse
S.A.F.E.
Self Mutilators Anonymous
SIOS
Timber Knolls

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

You can get help, you can get well, and you can find your balance, I promise. I battled this for ten years and it wasn’t easy, but I did it, and if I can then so can you. Never be afraid to ask for help; it’s one of the bravest things you can ever do. You are never alone.

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You are never alone – Sarah Jean Bowers

Depression and anxiety
Encompass more than sadness,
Fumbling hands,
and racing heartbeats.

It’s missed deadlines,
Canceled plans,
drawn blinds to block the sun,
prayers to make it to dawn.

It’s silence
after breakdowns,
Bruised knees
From praying
for peace.
It’s lying in the fetal position,
drowning in a sea of tears.

It’s succumbing to grief
And the lies it sometimes tells.
It’s heartache
holding you down.
It’s searching for answers
at the bottom of the bottle
when you sometimes hate
the taste of air.

But it doesn’t have to be permanent.
Your strength is stronger
than that which holds
you down.

You know the taste of
resilience and perseverance.
It’s as sweet as
the sun when
You finally step outside
and she kisses
your face.

You have touched hearts
with your bravery,
Unknowingly healing
others’ wounds
when they realize
they are not alone.

The stigma is fear’s best friend.
Don’t let it paralyze you.

This world has
hands to hold,
With journeys and
breakdowns
Similar to your own.

You, beautiful soul, are never alone.

© Sarah Jean Bowers 2017

sjb

Sarah Jean Bowers is a poet, old soul, and resilient warrior.

At the age of eight, she lost her mother in a tragic car accident. She self-medicated with poetry and began to put words to the feelings that held her down. Twenty years later her father died in an accident. She attempted to soldier through, but PTSD and anxiety forced her to take a step back, slow down, and start to heal her wounds. She listened to her body and finally took the time she needed to find steady ground and a purpose to live her life to the fullest.

She has turned her tragedy into poetry with the intention of empowering and healing others with her words. You can find her poetry on Facebook and Instagram.

Of Maniacs and Manics

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Photo Source: Pinterest

 

You understand words like,
empty, dry, and nothing
but you’ll never know
what hollow feels
like
because your mind
will never take you
under.
It won’t swallow
the smile
from your daughter’s face
before it ever reaches
your eyes.
You understand words like,
full, vibrant, and ecstasy
but you’ll never know
what euphoria feels
like
when you walk body
hot
on a wet summer’s day
into a cool room,
worlds colliding
on your skin.
You call me crazy
because I feel
everything,
but I feel sorry
for you
because you don’t.

© Nicole Lyons 2016

Crazy, Cancer & Chuckles

Last month Stephanie Bennett-Henry and I wrote something together that touches on Stigma. I was reluctant to post it for (get this) fear of offending people. How ridiculous is that? Pretty ridiculous considering the disgusting comments and jokes that people are making today, in regard to Sinead O’Connor.

I swear to God, some of you need to pass a test before using the Internet.

It’s May, which means it’s Mental Health Awareness month, and I tell you world, you fucking need it.

How funny would it be if I laughed as your daughter lay dying from cancer? What about your mother as she pukes up any strength she has left after dialysis? Maybe we could make a video that pokes fun at everyone who struggles to breathe in the middle of an asthma attack, bet we’d have a viral sensation on our hands there.

Your ignorance is showing, cover that shit up.

Stigma.

 

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Broken, I love someone broken – Lizzi Lewis

Broken

Broken, I love someone broken

 

“We’re playing hot potato,” you had said
As we took turns to succumb to the monsters;
Those chemical teeter-totters in the playgrounds
Of our heads, and whilst I was below
Beset, prepared to die to spare you
(How nobly I would go, for you, for everyone
For those foolish enough to care if I lived
Or lost, or lived lost – how could I continue
To burden them, what dreadful cost.
What an awful way to repay their love!)
But you asked me, nicely, to please don’t leave
You told me you needed me, and I believed
Because deep down and intellectually
I know it’s true – ridding the world of me
Will not save you, or anyone, but forever brand with pain
Cause permanent heartbreak each time
You thought of me, or heard my name
And whatever burden I could ever conceive myself to be
Could not contend with the weight
Of being the one who didn’t

Save me

From myself
I’m on the rise
Head above water, feet touching sand
I’m surprised, yet so much is due
To those who rescued me
Not least to you, yet here I am
Apathetic, hopeless, incapable
I see you floundering and can
Barely chuck a word to help you float
You whose heart was like a rescue
A fucking ginormous boat, and now you need me
Now I’m less broken, and you’ve begun to sink
THIS is the burden you chose
You lovely fool, I’m useless!
I wonder if I’m worse for you
When I’m sick, or healthier
Either way, congratulations, you lose!
Your prize – a second broken mind
This one housed inside some other
Kind of personal crazy, just SO inept
Yet you, my dear, each day amaze me
With your persistence and the way you recognize
Even when they’re screaming at you – lies,
The lies our brains replay, to torture us
To make us want to quit, turn tables, end our day
In the peace of forever-sleep, yet somehow we’re unable
Knowing as we do that ending One

May be the end of Two

But
Still
Those
Voices
TEMPT

Then we swap
And off we go again
This dance macabre of neurons
Waltzing us to unbearable
Mental pain, forcing us to face
What, for each of us, seems true:
We drown ourselves to save the other
But in saving, maybe drown them too.

[Thank goodness it’s all lies
And love propels us into light
To hold hands, lock hearts,
To save ourselves…
TOGETHER
We. Will. Fight.]

© Lizzi Lewis 2016

LIZZZI

Lizzi is a Deep Thinker, Truth-Teller and seeker of Good Things, committed to living life in Silver Linings. She’s also silly, irreverent and tries to write as beautifully as possible. She sends glitterbombs and gathers people around her – building community wherever possible. She’s absolutely certain that #LoveWins.
A founder member 1000Speak, she hosts the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop each weekend and tries to #BeReal as often as possible.

Find Lizzi on Facebook * Twitter * Google+ * Pintrest

 

Light It Up Blue

 

Written for a very special boy in my life and dedicated to every other beautiful soul who lives and loves with Autism.

 

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He doesn’t say much.
Often struggles to be heard.
But his eyes speak
while he whispers his words.

His days are structured
routine is what he needs.
He thrives when he is included,
but rejection is too often what he sees.

His mother is tired
sometimes her hope fails;
sometimes she breaks through,
other times to no avail.

He is a soul like no other,
brilliant and kind.
He is a treasure to many,
loved for his mind.

He is just a boy,
not much different than you;
he likes to have fun,
and deserves respect too.

When you see people shaming,
call them out on what they do,
and while you’re at it,
Light It Up Blue

 

Fuck you, Jian

So.Much.This.

Bone Broth and Breastmilk

It’s Day 3 of the Jian Ghomeshi trial, the first witness has been discredited already and we’ve now moved right along on to number 2.

During the time the story broke that he was being fired from the CBC as sexual assault accusations came to light, every woman I spoke to about it was deeply disturbed. Deeply disturbed. Every woman. No matter her age, level of Q fandom, political leanings and/or lifestyle, this story, of all news stories, had knocked the wind out of her. She couldn’t get it out of her head. Couldn’t stop thinking. Things were coming back to her. Feelings, and questions, about interactions she’d buried in the subterranean sludge of her mind for years. Interactions that were flooding her now. She couldn’t breathe.

I’ve been degraded, I’ve been humiliated, I’ve been coerced, I’ve been pressured, I’ve been guilt-tripped, I’ve been taken advantage of, I’ve had my humanity…

View original post 445 more words

Support #TheLoveEffect film – ‪#‎SucidideAwareness‬ ‪

 

Thank you, Jacqueline Cioffa for bringing this to my attention. Please everyone check out this original post on the Jackie’s stunning site.

 

Source: Support #TheLoveEffect film – ‪#‎SucidideAwareness‬ ‪

 

Fear and Acceptance by Jason Insalaco

Please give a very warm TLC welcome to Jason Insalaco from Instinctive Bird. Thank you for sharing your story and creating a community where people can feel safe and supported.

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Hi, my name is Jay Insalaco. I’ve been living with bipolar disorder type 1 and addiction to drugs and alcohol for the last twenty years. Throughout the years I struggled with fear and acceptance. I had accepted my life of recovery from addiction but not with my mental illness. For me, I could accept not taking drugs and alcohol because I could physically “control” not taking a drug or a drink. For my mental illness, I couldn’t accept it; I had no “control” over my mind.

 

 

My recovery started in 1995. I was experimenting with drugs in a club in NYC right before I was introduced to mental illness. I was dual diagnosed after a drug induced manic episode. Five days after that last night in the club I was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital/rehab.

 

 

During that first stay at the hospital/rehab, I don’t think I realized how my life was going to change. It was until I was released and had to go to a day program and a 12-step meeting that I started to know fear and acceptance.

 

 

Was this my life for the rest of my life? A life filled with psychiatrists, psychologists, and 12-step meetings? Was I really going to have to change people, places, and things? My whole world was going to change. The first step is acceptance. I couldn’t do this. I just couldn’t. Acceptance was only the first step and I was lost. I had to come to terms with living life on life’s terms. How? I was told, One day at a time.

 

 

I had to look at living life, moment to moment. No more no less. It made it easier to accept my sobriety because I had the choice and the will not to use. It didn’t make it easier for my bipolar disorder. I had to be open and willing to take my medication as prescribed and to be proactive with my doctors. This would mean I would have to accept that I didn’t have “control” of my mind. I couldn’t accept that.

 

 

I lived in fear. I fueled stigma in my life. It was the stigma of mental illness. I was afraid of what people would say if they knew my story. Would people accept me? Stigma existed in my mind. It was an illusion for me just like control.

 

 

What I have learned in the last 20 years is that there is no such thing as control it’s an illusion. Life is what you make out of it. My fear was my personal stigma. It was all within me. I wanted to be free. There’s no freedom living in fear.

 

 

What happened to me that caused a change? The day I was accepted by someone very special to me. No labels. Just me. This sparked the change.

 

 

Why was acceptance so important to my mental health? Because, simply put, I was vulnerable and open to disappointment. I needed strength. I learned that I’m NOT my illness and this gave me strength. I needed to move away from fear. It was and is a process that’s will always be there. It will always be lurking, but I choose not to give it power. I choose to be free.

 

Now, I’m not saying that you have to scream from the mountains that you have mental illness, just know that you’re NOT your illness. Everyone has choices in life. My choice is to open the door to communication about mental health and addiction. I started a forum and social networking on my website: instinctivebird.com. Become a member. You can be as public or discreet as you want. Join today.

 

You can connect with Jason on Twitter and Facebook as well as at InstictiveBird.

Jason I

Halloween: Are We Perpetuating Stigma? | Embracing Balance

Source: Halloween: Are We Perpetuating Stigma? | Embracing Balance