Trigger warning: Desire to self harm talked about in detail
Leading up to writing this was difficult. It scares me, and I’m not even sure why. But after reading a post from Shouting Into The Silence I felt compelled to talk about it.
Because I know what most of you are thinking. What possible reason could someone have to mutilate their bodies, besides a dramatic craving for attention at worst, or a cry for help at best?
But is attention a good reason to judge someone for self harming?
Of course self harm is a horrible way to seek attention or cry for help, but often we find ourselves so caught up in that that we don’t address the real problem – that person’s very real psychological pain.
I was a mere 12 year old, recently dumped by my first boyfriend/”love of my life”, and victim to the fad of cutting yourself.
Regardless of how stupid the causes of my pain were, and my irrational reaction, even as a 12 year old I was genuinely hurting. I had always struggled with asking for help (aren’t childhood traumas fun?) and cutting allowed the people close to me to see I was hurting, without me having to express myself verbally.
Yes, my purpose was to “seek attention”. According to many, that made me scum. But to me, “seeking attention” was the same thing as “seeking help.”
But in reality, those who cut for attention are a minority of self harmers.
For years I believed attention was the only reason. I sympathised with the pain the person was experiencing, but I simply could not understand how harming yourself made anything better. It was irrational, illogical.
Unfortunately it wasn’t until I was in my most difficult moments that I finally understood… in what way is distress or trauma logical?
It wasn’t until a few months ago that I understood self harm on a personal level. I was in a Depression and watching a movie which referenced it, and I can’t explain it, but I felt a deep yearning inside me.
I shut it down. How could I want such a thing?
Depression has me craving self harm in a way that’s hard to explain. Perhaps the physical pain distracts me from the emotional, maybe it makes me feel alive. But Depression isn’t the only time that these cravings are felt. As you’ll know from my post about psychosis, I have once again found that need in insanity.
Perhaps it’s from my limbs and body being controlled by a puppet master, throwing me against hard objects or pulling harshly at my hair. I cry in shame, I didn’t want to hurt myself.
And ironically it is when I can have an inkling of control during insanity that I desire to hurt myself. When my mind is slipping, falling, so distractable, scattered, terrified, overwhelmed, fragmented, confused, pained, hyper aware, not aware at all, when it feels like I’m falling in space and I’m dizzy and don’t know which way is up or down, yet I know the sharp, quick pain of a rubber band against my wrist is enough to grant me at least a few moment with my feet on Earth. A few moments of sweet clarity.
I ask, is what I describe attention seeking? Is it worth judgement?
When you see or know someone who self harms, just remember they are someone who is struggling and needs help. Nothing else matters.
Disclaimer: I do not condone self harm. While the pain may have benefits, the risk is great. I choose to use a rubber band around my wrist as it is recommended by health professionals as a way to satisfy the craving without any damaging effects (besides a couple of stinging seconds). If you have a desire to self harm, seek help. Talk to a local hotline, your therapist, doctor, trusted loved ones, or feel free to contact me. Sites such as blahtherapy.com can also be a useful place to vent.