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Knowing your body
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Understanding where everything is...
Do you know your veins from your arteries? Do you know the difference between tendons and muscles? Do you know which bit of your body takes a pounding if you overdose?
You need to know.
Selfharm.co.uk does not advocate causing deliberate harm to your own body or anyone else's, but having some understanding of how your body works and how it's all put together can make a big difference.
Your body is a miracle - a wonderful network of bones, blood vessels, muscles and tendons encased in layers of skin. Some of us have more fat than others, some of us may be slightly hairier and we are all different heights, widths and lengths. Most of us have 2 eyes, ears, kidneys, arms, legs and lungs whilst others manage just fine with one, and we all have a heart, brain and liver. Everything has a place and everything has a function. But it's only designed to take so much abuse, and learning to take good care of our bodies is an important part of recovery.
Why don't you take some time out to consider where you hurt yourself? How much do you really know about that area of your body? If you're a cutter, is there a 'safer' way to cut? What happens if you sever a tendon? How deep is too deep? Can you be a self-harmer and still be kind to yourself?
Tendons and stuff...
The deeper you cut, the more layers you go through. You have skin, fat, muscle, veins, arteries, tendons, nerves and bone. If you cut a tendon or major nerve then serious damage can be done. Tendon damage can result in permanent loss of the use of limbs and extremities ( for example, arms, legs, fingers, toes). If you sever a tendon you are risking the loss of that limb, even with medical attention. Nerve damage can result in permanent pain, and in the worse possible case, paralysis.
Bones, if you cut deep enough, will not look pearly white as some may imagine. They may be a bluish-grey colour and always a sign that things have gone too far. Your bones hold you together, they make up who you are and enable you to move, sit, stand and be.
The emotional pain you feel is directed at your body, but your body cannot always cope or accommodate the injuries you inflict upon it. Your body can only take so much, so let us help you to help yourself stay intact.
Some people may harm themselves by depriving themselves of food or adequate nutrition. We live in a world that promotes slimness and shuns anyone who may be considered overweight. In actual fact, being underweight is possibly more damaging to your health than being a few pounds overweight. Extremities are never good - being very underweight or very overweight are equally dangerous in their own way. Starving yourself deprives your body of vital nutrients, calories and fat needed in order to function, while overloading your body causes as much harm, leading the human frame to cope with more weight than it may have been designed to hold. Some people may struggle with food to a degree that they qualify for a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Compulsive Eating Disorder or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), whilst others may know they are not eating properly without needing to be diagnosed. It raises bigger questions about what normal eating even looks like - sometimes it feels like everyone is on a diet, so what is normal?
Eating disorders are considered to be mental health conditions, and are the biggest cause of death in the world of mental health. That's right, the biggest cause of death. You may have starved yourself for 2 years, but you may not last a third. You may have made yourself vomit after every meal for the last six months, but your body may not tolerate a seventh. You may binge uncontrollably on food 6 days a week, but your body may be screaming from the strain. Saying this won't make you stop the behaviour, this much we do know, but we need to highlight the dangers of extreme eating habits. The human body is designed to cope with all things in moderation. As we've said before, the way you treat you body is an indication of your emotional health. You can't fix one without the other.