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We can’t be there in person to help and support you in a moment of crisis, but there are other options available to you if you can’t turn to someone you trust. By giving us your postcode (or one nearby to where you are right now) we can let you know about services in your area. Remember: this moment will pass; you won’t always feel the way you do right now. 

If in doubt always call 999.

You can also sign up to Alumina, our online support for mental health and wellbeing here: 

https://www.selfharm.co.uk/alu...

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Dedicated to self-harm recovery, insight and support.

A Conversation with My Mental illness

Happy National Poetry Day friends! To celebrate, we've got an inspiring poem by Nikita Gill titled 'A Conversation with My Mental Illness.' If you read it and want to share your thoughts, you can comment your answers to the below questions on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr accounts. We'd love to hear from you!

  • What do you think is the main thing being said in this poem?

  • How does the poem make you feel? Why?

  • Are there any lines or words which you specially like?


A Conversation with My Mental Illness

Every sleepless night I am interrogated

by the darkness that lives inside of me.


It says to me:

'You are pointless.'


I respond:

'No one in this world is pointless.'


It scowls at me:

'You are a terrible person.'


I admit:

'I am a good person who did terrible things.'


It rages at me:

'No one needs you.'


I countered:

'There are people who have adored me.'


It seethes at me:

'And what of those who hated you?'


I sigh:

'Being unforgiving of others is a sign of insecurity.'


It finally explodes:

'I will make sure you always doubt yourself!'


And every night

I gather my courage

as my armour and say:

'And whenever you do,

I will look at the vastness

of the every changing style

the presence of a moon

that helps the sea

the same sunset that has been going

around the earth

for billions of years

and remind myself

that the same universe that made them

and gave them such purpose

also made me.

And nothing you say to me

will ever convince me otherwise

because that is a fact

I will never question about my journey.'


Taken from the book Wild Embers by Nikita Gill, p14.

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How to prepare for a CAMHS appointment

  • Write down all the questions you have or would like to ask: do they tell your parents stuff? Do they contact school? What will happen if you tell them you self-harm? 
  • Write down as much as you can about what has been happening to you recently
  • Write down anything you feel is important about things that happened to you when you were little – they might impact your wellbeing now.
  • Write a list of people that are important to you – it will help CAMHS know about your key relationships
  • Think about how you prefer to communicate and let CAMHS know: talking might be hard, writing might be good? Or drawing?
  • Download the assessment they will probably give you (if it’s not this one it will be one like it): 

Sdq English Uk S11 17Single

Download
  • Spend a few days thinking through how you might answer as we all change depending on situations; so give a good overview of what you are feeling the majority of the time.
  •  Take anything to the session you would like – a teddy, something to fiddle with, your favourite book to read while you are waiting. It’s about you, so you need to feel comfortable. 

It is important to realise, whoever you see wants to help you. Their job is to find out as much as they can about you so they can put support in place for you.  

If you had a broken leg you would go to the Doctor; if you aren’t doing so well mentally, it's ok for you to need a doctor too. No one is judging you.

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How to get control over your self-harm

Self-harming is more common than many people want to admit. It can affect people of all ages and is unique to each person. Because no two cases of self-harming are ever the same, it can be difficult to pin down what triggers it. But, generally speaking, self-harming happens when a person cannot handle emotional pain, so they convert it into a physical one which provides temporary emotional release. Left untreated, this can quickly develop into an automatic reaction to cope with stress. But whether you begin healing straight away, or whether you have been a self-harmer for years, it can be beaten. Here are a few suggestions around how you can help yourself…

People self-harm for many different reasons, and because of this, there are many things you can try out to help you stop, or help you cope with your self-harming.

Identifying what triggers your self-harming can give you more control. Even if you can’t avoid those triggers altogether, you can develop strategies to deal with your emotions when things start becoming overwhelming.

Creativity is often used by people to vent any pent-up feelings and frustrations. It is a way of turning something negative into something positive and can take any form: dancing, painting, sculpting, drawing, crafts. Writing is one that is often used, and it can be a diary, a story, a poem, a letter, or just a scribbled note. You wouldn’t have to show these to anyone. In fact, some people prefer,once they’ve written out all the poison, to tear up and destroy whatever they have just written.

Sports and exercise is also very beneficial. Combat sports especially are fantastic at channeling anger and frustration. They also boost confidence and get you fit.

Getting involved in community projects (like volunteering) or finding ways to help others can be soothing and give you a purpose. However, you need to weigh this option against whatever lifestyle you’re leading. If your life is very busy and intense, you probably shouldn’t add more responsibility to it. In this case, it might be better trying to work in more quiet ‘you’ time. 

Learning a new skill does wonders for the mind and body. Give it a try, even if you don’t believe that these would suit you, or that they would help much. You might end up enjoying them or even finding your own!

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How will this ever change?

Changing yourself: not in any big way and not too much at once. Choose one area at a time and work on that. School? A friendship? Your relationship with your parents? The more in control we feel of the choices we make; the better our mental health. 

Asking for help: it is hard to ask for help as we are admitting we can’t manage on our own, but the reality is, we aren’t made to. If you think we way to the beginning of time, people have always existed in groups – none of us are meant to manage life on our own so asking for help, not only helps you but actually creates stronger relationships too. Who would you like to ask for help?

Saying no: it’s a hugely important skill. We all need to practise it more, as it means we are taking control about what we don’t want to do; who we don’t to spend to time with; what we aren’t comfortable with…. Is there anything you want to say no to?

Making small steps: don’t try and leap… one small decision a day is a big step forward. Often we want to change so fast and we want it all done now. There are many trite sayings but the fact is, they are true. Long lasting change takes a lot of time and investment. What small step would you like to make today?

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What happens after you tell someone you have self-harmed?

Telling someone is a long and hard process for many of us – it starts by choosing who, then deciding how to tell them (face to face, via text or on the phone) then we have to work out what words to use…

The overwhelming response from telling the right person is the feeling of being supported. Once they have heard you and tried to help you work out why; they should suggest telling a professional person like a teacher or Doctor.

A teacher, a parent or Doctor are good people to tell: telling your friend and only your friend puts an unfair amount of pressure on them so together telling someone else who knows how to support you, is more helpful.

If you tell your parent, they will most probably take you to the doctor;

If you tell a teacher, they may inform your parents depending on your school’s policy;

If you tell your doctor, they won’t inform your parents if you are over 14.

One way or another – you will most probably end up seeing your Doctor.

So then what happens...?

Your doctor will ask you:

  • How long you have been harming?
  • If you know why you harm?
  • Have you told anyone else?
  • Have you thought of suicide? 

If the idea of answering these questions is too overwhelming, you can write your answers before you go and just pass the doctor the piece of paper – it doesn’t matter how you communicate; just that you do.

The Doctor will almost certainly refer you to CAMHS (children and adolescent mental health services). This doesn’t mean you are mad or mentally unwell; it means they are specialists in supporting young people and their counsellors are trained to help teenagers. 

Frustratingly, there is a huge waiting list all over the country, it may be up to a year before you get an appointment L  Your school might have a counsellor you can talk to; they often have spaces quicker than CAMHS or, which is happening a lot more, young people are seeing private counsellors which their families have to pay for. If you want to look up a private counsellor in your area check out www.bacp.org.uk 

The first appointment is called an Access Appointment; it is an assessment to make sure they are the right service for you. They often get you fill in a long form called a Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire which is a multiple choice set of questions about issues such as food, sleep, moods, school, relationships…there are no right or wrong answers as you are the expert in ‘you’!  

From there, they will often give you a set of 6 sessions (to start with) with either a mental health nurse, a Community Psychiatric Nurse (a CNP it’s called for short) or a Psychiatrist. It doesn’t matter which you see and there is no real distinction between them, it’s often about who has space for you in the diary. 

It is a Consultant Psychiatrist who will over- see your case and line managers the others to make sure they are supporting you; it is also the psychiatrist who can write prescriptions if it is felt you need any medication to help you until your mood stabilises.

www.headmeds.org.uk is a great website to help you understand what medication is what and that it's your choice as to whether you want medication or not.

Each area in the country has a slightly different way of doing things, but overall, this is the process for supporting young people who are self-harming. 

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Imperfection

This incredibly honest and powerful blog post was written by the fabulous Miriam! Miriam co-runs an Instagram account called @themiddle_path, where you can read this and other blog posts about recovering from eating disorders, mental health awareness and body positivity. Thanks Miriam!

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203c.png‼️TW: Post mentions scars from self-harm203c.png‼️


A few weeks ago a number of professional photos were taken of a very special day. The photos were beautifully done and the end result was incredible. However, looking through them something didn’t quite add up. It took a while to realise what it was but having scanned a number of pictures it was clear; my arms were smooth!

As a teenager self harm became a personal way of dealing with intense emotions & it has been a journey ever since. A journey where I am learning to treat my body with more care & less harm, but also a journey of learning to love what others may see as flaws/imperfections/areas that need to be improved or changed.

Megan Crabbe’s book(@bodyposipanda) has taught me so many lessons on loving your body & learning to not see any difference in your appearance as an imperfection. This book propelled me forward in learning to love my scars, to not hide them or feel ashamed of them. They all tell a story & the opinion of others should have no impact on the way I live my life or treat myself.

Having learnt to accept my scars which
1f4a5.png💥NEWSFLASH1f4a5.png💥were never an issue to begin with & then seeing them photoshopped out, hit a nerve with me & left me with lots of questions.
1f4f8.png📸Are they something I need to feel ashamed of?
1f4f8.png📸Are they flaws?
1f4f8.png📸I know the journey I was on felt right but maybe they do need to be hidden.

After some time to process & thankfully having the ability & time to talk this through with my husband, friends & therapy team I found my conclusion...

THERE IS NOT A SINGLE THING WRONG WITH HAVING SCARS 2705.png

THEY ARE NOT FLAWS274c.png

THEY ARE NOT IMPERFECTIONS274c.png

THEY DO NOT HAVE TO BE HIDDEN FROM THE WORLD274c.png

NO ONE, NO PHOTO, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING SHOULD MAKE YOU EVER QUESTION THE BEAUTY & VALUE OF YOUR BODY EXACTLY AS IT IS.

Shake the shame from your skin. You’ve done nothing wrong.

My body does SO much for me & it doesn’t have to be hidden just in case it meets the critical eyes of someone else.

This photographer wouldn’t have wanted to cause a minor crisis. Let’s be aware that what we see as imperfections might be what someone loves about themselves. All that’s needed is more education 1f49b.png

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Periods

Ruth talks to us about periods.

A useful link: This is about periods

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Talking To The Doctor

Here at SelfharmUK we want to help people understand their harming behaviour and explore other ways to cope with life's challenges.

If you get in touch we'll listen to your story and suggest ways to help you move forward ... but somewhere along the line we'll almost always suggest you visit your GP.  This can be a really tough thing to do, we know it can be scary, and can mean having to tell your parents too (though not always) but we believe it can be a significant step towards feeling better.

We asked GP David Roberts what you can expect when talking to your doctor about self-harm and whilst this article is only a guide - and not a definitive set of facts - we hope it will help you feel more in control, if and when, you walk into that consulting room...

Why do I have to go to the Doctor?

Self-harming is usually an indication that all is not right. People sometimes do it because it relieves internal tension and stress. It is not a very good way of doing this and like drugs, alcohol and smoking ultimately doesn't do any good. But in the short term it gives a temporary relief from emotional pain. However, it can be a symptom of a more serious mental illness and so your doctor can make sure you get the help you need.

Can I go on my own or do I have to take a parent?

You can legally go to the GP alone aged 16, but doctors can accept that you may be able to make your own decisions about your health (eg contraception) from 14 if they think you understand things and are mature enough to do so. A doctor would want you to involve your parent(s) in your care until you are 16 and are likely to encourage you. They would not give you an injection or carry out an operation, or even do an intimate (embarrassing) examination (physical check) without your parent's permission before you are 16.

How can I get ready for my appointment?

Even if you are under 16 That does not mean that you cannot talk to them about your problems or issues. It is a good idea to think about what you want to say and write the main points down. Lots of people get embarrassed at what they want to say and so don't get to the point. Doctors are busy and don't get embarrassed by what you think or say, so it is better to take a deep breath and say it right at the beginning rather than put it off. They won't mind and it will give them more time to talk to you than if you spend the first five minutes talking about a rash that no one can see because it really isn't there!  Think about what you want to get out of the appointment - do you just want to tell someone and get it off your chest, do you want help stopping it, do you want them to refer you on to someone who could give you specialist help? If you tell them what you want then they can work out how best to support you.

What will happen if I say I self harm?

Self harming is quite common and they will have seen other people who do it. So they won't be shocked, but they will be concerned. The biggest concern they would have is that you might want to kill yourself. Not many people who self harm want to do this but doctors have a professional duty to assess the risk of that happening. they are obliged to keep what you say confidential and private between you and them, unless you tell them something that they think might indicate that your health is seriously at risk (or you might be planning to do something that might endanger someone else) - see later - in which case they may be obliged to break your confidence. They should tell you this. They will want to help you, and so if you have plucked up courage to tell them, they will try to find ways to do that.

What will they ask me?

This might include asking some deep questions which you might find embarrassing: don't be though, they're only trying to work out what's making you do this. They'll ask about cutting, taking drugs, overdoses, and other ways you might be tempted to hurt yourself. They may ask you about how you feel (low, depressed, crying, worried, frightened, angry) and how things are at home or school or work.  If they feel you trust them they might ask you to come back again to see them, and they might suggest that they refer you on to see a specialist from the CAMH service (people who work most of their time with young people with similar problems). They might encourage you to speak to a counsellor at school, particularly if there is someone there you feel you can talk to. They will want to know why you have come to see them at that time and to find out what help you want them to give you. You may not be able to say this, but if you've thought about it beforehand it will help.

Do they have to tell my parents?

They are obliged in law to protect you and others from actions you might take that might harm you or others. But they need to check how likely your might be to do something you say you want to do so they will question you quite hard. If you are under 16 and they think you are suicidal (or planning a murder!) they will have to tell your parents or other authorities. They will still encourage you to involve your parents as they have legal responsibility for you, but if the risk is low in their view, they will try their best to keep what you say confidential.

Will I have to show them where I have self-harmed?

They can't and won't force you (unless they are seriously worried about you being in danger and even then they will ask for advice from someone who specialises in child protection). They will want to assess how bad your injuries are - you might need antibiotics if your cuts are infected, and you might need dressings to protect the wounds.

Remember they aren't easily shocked or embarrassed and really want to help you - showing them the extent of your cutting will help them work out how serious the problem is and how to get you the best help.

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Forgiveness

There are so many things we can achieve in life – whether it’s the first steps in walking; being able to read; working out a maths problem or getting your first job – we learn new things daily.

One thing I think is way harder than anything else to achieve in life is forgiveness.

It sounds so easy yet is so very, very hard to do. It’s a long process – we might say ‘we forgive you’ but the feelings of resentment, hurt and anger are harder too control. 

Forgiveness is a choice – it involves our brain deciding on it as it’s a choice; it involves actively putting it into practise and it involves letting go of the emotions that are so strong – even more so if we need to forgive ourselves.

We all make mistakes; perfection isn’t real and doesn’t exist (see the vlog on perfectionism); we are going to mess up – life is a learning curve. In the same way it took most of us about 18 months to walk; it takes years to forgive.

Forgiving yourself is the same process as forgiving someone else, but often harder as we are the forgiver and the forgive (the person being forgiven) so most of us go through a cycle of being kind to ourselves about the mistakes we have made; then, once we feel the resentment/anger creeping back, we are even harder on ourselves than before – and so the cycle continues……

Breaking the ‘forgiveness/self- anger’ cycle takes time; a lot of daily positive self-talking (list things you do like about yourself), often physically writing what you forgive yourself for (arguing with people, saying unkind things, not doing as well as you could…) and learning, again and again, to tell yourself ‘ I am human. I will make mistakes. I am forgiven. I choose to forgive’. 

It’s a life time mantra  - it will take forever because our life is about journeying to grow as people, so be gentle to yourself and start your self-forgiveness journey today.

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Foster Care Fortnight

Ruth talks to us about foster care.

To find out more about Foster Care Fortnight, visit:
https://www.thefosteringnetwork.org.u...

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Failing… again… and again…

Don’t you sometimes feel ‘stuck’? like life has moved on for everyone else but you? I do. Often. I make mistakes, I mess up, sometimes worse than others. I hurt people I love, I say unkind things and I think very unkind things often.

I am not perfect.

I am definitely not perfect.

Yet…I have moments that I can think ‘hey, you did the right thing there’….have a think, recall when you have done something kind for someone else?

Being human means we are both the best and worst of ourselves: we excel and we disappoint ourselves. Every day.

We have the capacity to flourish and ‘fail’ at the same time:  in one area of our lives we can be gentle, caring and a lovely human; then, we can flip to the other side in an instant.

You aren’t the only one: we are human, we all do it. Loads of times a day.

Instead of berating your darker side, the bits you don’t like and feel you ‘fail’ at – accept them. Recognise them, without squirming in your seat. Say aloud your failings.

Now say aloud your kind acts, your gentle side, your caring nature; list the people you have helped and listened to, draw the faces of those over your life who you have a positive impact on, write the deeds you have done that has made someone say ‘thank you’, think of their smiles….

You aren’t failing at life. You aren’t a failure. You are human.

Being human doesn’t involve punishing yourself, apologizing for everything and anything, feeling guilty about what you didn’t do…being human allows you to have a better self and a less better self.

It takes a life time to work yourself out, to recognise the good in you – begin that journey today by, admit your ‘shadow’ self and your ‘light’ self  (good/less good)and let yourself off the hook today for something.

Walk gently through life, helping where you can, accepting there will be times you can’t.

That’s ok.

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Do you feel different?

This week was the start of Autism Awareness week (March 26th 2018) – many people know someone who has autism, and some of us are what is called ‘on the autistic spectrum’.    

So, what does this have to do with self-harm? Loads! A very high rate of young people with autism self-harm, many of them girls who aren’t even aware they have autism.

Autism means struggling to deal with emotions and social situations, and finding verbalizing these struggles very hard. Most often we hear about autism in it’s most ‘severe’ form – non- verbal people who have complex needs: however, this makes us over look young people who, while they might be very bright, struggle to articulate feelings and emotions. 

Thousands of girls (with autism or undiagnosed autism) will be in mainstream schools and coping (outwardly) fine: however, inwardly the story might be different. Feeling like you don’t fit in? struggling with friendships? Unable to express yourself verbally? Possibly a perfectionist who can’t cope if life doesn’t go perfectly? Not able manage when routine changes? Can’t always understand people’s facial expressions? Feeling such strong feelings and intense emotions?

Autism has no definite set of symptoms and no one person experiences autism the same as another. Check out these women whose stories vary but all have autism and are all very successful, kind and bright... 

If you want to find out more look at www.nas.org.uk for more information on understanding autism.

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Anxiety and animals

This blog post was written by Jo Fitzsimmons, a member of the SelfharmUK Team. In case you were wondering, the dogs below are called Floyd and Zeus!

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We all love some cat and dog youtube clips, don’t we??!

Some of us love our pets, some of us aren’t too keen on animals, but either way the evidence is strong….Animals calm us down. 

People who stroke their cats and dogs are reported to have much lower stress levels and longer life expectancy than those who don’t. Why?

  • To stroke our pets we have to be sitting down and calm – they won’t come near us if we are too hyper or too stressed
  • Our breathing slows to reflect theirs
  • We shift our focus to the now – we are ‘in the moment ‘ with them
  • Repetition of feeling something soft and soothing with your hands maybe comforting
  • Passive interaction –there are no demands or expectations from your dog or cat: they are always so pleased and thankful for the time and love you give them
  • Getting out in the fresh air to walk your dog may help your mental health hugely – and you may even make some new dog walking friends
  • We can take our lead from our pets: they are often very emotionally in tune with us. If we are feeling low, they know and give us extra cuddles!

If you aren’t able to keep a pet of your own – perhaps volunteer in an animal shelter or look at something like ‘borrowmydoggy’ ?

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Self-judgment

Jo talks to us about self-judgment.

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Helping your friend to ‘train their mind'

So, this isn’t Derren Brown stuff...

via GIPHY

Honest!

Mind training is gently and kindly challenging your friend when they say negative things about themselves (that sounds way easier, eh!?). 

Negative thoughts are part of our human mind set. Most of us have to fight the inner voice which tells us we are rubbish, ugly, fat, stupid or unkind at some points in our lives… The key to managing this negative inner voice is to train your brain to tell it to ‘get stuffed’!

If your friend says negative things about themselves often, here are some tips to help them ‘train their brain’:

  • Listen to them – don’t say ‘that’s rubbish’
  • Don’t get angry when they say negative things about themselves
  • Do – ask them to say what the opposite is of the negative thought
  • Do – ask them write the positive side of each negative thought they have
  • Do – ask them to put the negative thoughts they have written in the bin
  • Do – ask them to put the positive thoughts up in their room, or list them on their phone so they can see them and read them when they are saying negative things
  • Do – do things together than are achievable and fun. If they hate ice – skating and fall over all the time, don’t go ice skating!
  • Do – be positive in the words you use with your friend, even with ‘banter’! It has a huge effect. 

Now, try it on yourself too – positive people have a better outlook on life! 

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