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.
What’s the World record for the number of people to fit into a Mini? (go on – find out, we know you’ll want to!)
We all try and cram ourselves into small spaces at some point in life, for some reason! Hide and seek? A tent that is way too small? Under our bed? A phone box when it’s raining?
In the same way that we try to cram ourselves into a place too small; we also try and cram our emotions into a space far too small...
This time of year for many is stressful. You might be:
1. Changing schools...
2. Doing your exams...
3. Worried about leaving School...
4. Getting your results...
5. Or concerned about a long summer break...
Some things that will happen we can’t do anything about – such as the long summer break – but what we can do to reduce our stress is to begin to plan. For many of us planning reduces the worries about something as it helps us to take control and make choices about how we want to manage an upcoming event that is troubling us.
Think about results day: what do you want to do? Would you rather just get up early and click online to get your results in the privacy of your own house, away from your friends?
Think about the long summer break: how about volunteering somewhere? How about starting a card making service? How about babysitting? How about offering a dog walking service?
Take some time to consider what stresses are filling your bucket: What can you do to manage that stress?
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.
Occasionally, but not always, you might need to decide if you need immediate medical help.
It could be that either accidentally, or deliberately, you have harmed yourself and now, you feel scared about the impact of it on your body.
It maybe that you need to dial 999 immediately: is your cut very deep and bleeding near an artery? Is your burn severe? Have you swallowed something? Get someone to call 999 or call it yourself. No one will be cross with you for taking up NHS time; it could save you.
If not 999 then:
Firstly – breathe. Slowly. Get control of your body by getting oxygen to your brain – I know it sounds stupid, but it’s harder to make rational decisions and deal with an emergency if you are in panic mode.
Secondly – if you are bleeding – press down on it firmly. Hold it there. If you need to, tie something above the injured area to stem the bleeping. If it’s a burn – run it under cold water for at least 20 mins, then wrap it in cling film.
Thirdly – if, after 20 mins, you are still bleeding/feel a burning sensation – get to the hospital.
If you are hesitant about what to say write down, or get someone to write down the following for you, so you don’t have to repeat yourself: your full name/school/address/GP/what you have done/how long ago/what you used, drank, swallowed, how long you have been self-harming. Doing this will help you loads and give medics the information they need immediately to know how to treat you.
If you do get taken to hospital, you may feel unwell on the way. Having someone with you will help you.
Loosing someone you love is one of the hardest things in the world to come to terms with. In the blog below, Ben, a trainee Youth Worker currently living in Oundle, talks about his experiences of loss.
Over the last two to three years I have been unfortunate enough to go through the pain of grief and loos. Some of natural causes, some of unforeseen situations. The first of which was a guy I used to serve when I worked in my local shop. He was elderly and addicted to alcohol, so wasn’t living the healthiest of lifestyles. I came into work, expecting to see him, to buy his bottle and newspaper, but that day he never came. I found out later that he had died of a heart attack. I remember the shock, the last I saw him he was fine, I couldn’t get my head around not seeing him anymore, the grief came and passed quickly and I moved on with my life.
The next two were far more difficult to deal with. The first was a family friend. A family man who was the father of three young children and the husband to a wonderful woman. I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news I was having a family dinner with my girlfriend to celebrate the end of the school year, then the phone rang. He’d died, gone, never to be seen again. The loss was sudden and no-one could believe it and although everything was done to keep him alive, it wasn’t to be. I remember to this day being told and my heart sinking. The thoughts running through my head; “what do I say to the family? How do I support the family?” and then it hit me, the grief of thinking these things through, imagining life and what it must be like, but also knowing the family myself. I sometimes feel like I didn’t have the right to grieve, after all, he wasn’t my direct family. Then I realised, I still knew him, I had been around the family for a long time and it was obviously going to be tough on me too, but it was more the thought of everything that had been left behind. This caused me to ask a lot of questions and to get very angry at God; ‘why did he do this? Why of all people did you take him?’ I still don’t know the answer to this, but what I do know is that it has brought a close family even closer.
Just after I moved to Peterborough, I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw something that shook me to my core. A friend from my home in Essex, aged just 20, had passed away in his sleep. What on earth was going? I couldn’t believe that someone who was so healthy, so full of life and so joyful was taken in one night! It was only a few months before this I saw him daily and spoke with him. I couldn’t get my head around it. I remember thinking, this could have been me! A selfish thought maybe, but the truth. it made me realise that our lives are not everlasting and we never know what will come next, what’s around the corner. I remember coming home for the funeral though, there were so many people there, the church was full and not everyone was able to fit inside. My first thought after this was not of grief, pain, anger or hurt, although I did miss him, it was of thankfulness, thankfulness of a life lived and people re-connecting because of this sudden and sad loss.
I didn’t know why any of these things happened, or why those people were taken, I want to be able to say stay strong when these things happen but I believe that the right thing to do is to grieve. We are made to feel emotions for a reason, so don’t be afraid to get angry, don’t be afraid to scream and cry but remember, you will get through this and no matter what happens in life, live every second of it, because you never know what’s next.
Rejection is a hideous experience and we can build up a catalogue of wounds - emotional or physical - as different parts of us are under lifes spotlight. It might not get any easier to handle but there are things we can learn. Self confessed Geography Geek and cat loving Yorkshire girl, Heather has shared her story of life's knocks and what they showed her so far...
From not being allowed to do your singing exam to missing an invite to the latest party; rejection is unfortunately a part of life and it simply makes you feel like you’re not good enough. But somehow as we grow older, this feeling can seem to have more of an impact on our lives.
At 19, I finished art college and applied to 5 universities, 2 choices were at my boyfriend’s uni so I was feeling pretty excited; I was just doing what I thought every 19 year old had to do. I had 5 interviews, 5 trips to new cities and 5 rounds of preparation and nerves. However despite my best efforts, I was soon left with 5 lines of ‘unsuccessful’ staring back at me and the feeling of not being good enough engulfed me for months. Not only this, but my boyfriend too rejected me for his ‘super fun’ university life; I was utterly heartbroken. Heartbroken and rejected by the life I thought I was meant to be leading. I was the lowest I had every felt, my confidence was knocked massively and all I could do was sit and compare myself to everyone having ‘the time of their lives’. Or so it seemed.
A year later after a lot of hard work, I had 5 unconditional offers to study Geography and I ended up at my perfect university, I could not have been happier – it was finally my turn to have an amazing university experience, I mean it looked perfect on my friends Facebook pages! However, 3 years, 1 bout of anxiety and 1 emotionally abusive relationship later I graduated and was back in the same place I found myself at 19 – this time I’d gone through so much at university that the pressure was on to get that well-paid graduate job. After all that’s what every 22 year old was doing right?!
After what seemed like ages, I was head hunted by a recruitment agency for a ‘fantastic opportunity’ at a start-up company with brilliant pay and a ‘friendly’ close knit team. I couldn’t say no, the emails that were exchanged were filled with positive words and I truly felt they were excited to have me on board. It was all going so well, or so I thought, then I was sacked. Exactly a month after starting with no warning or notice, I was gone and all they could really say was they were ‘saving me’ from office life. I look back now at all the small things I did wondering if that was wrong, or I wasn’t smart enough to understand that, or if they were silently mocking me and I was totally oblivious. I cried for days; not because of losing the job (I knew it wasn’t for me anyway) but because I was humiliated, embarrassed that I wasn’t liked. That massive knock to my confidence, the hot feeling in your tummy when you get rejected was the biggest I had ever had, this was serious, this was my income and my chance at a career completely torn away.
I am a huge believer of everything happens for a reason. I think, 99% of the time, we get rejected because it simply is not the best thing for us. The night before I got sacked I received a job offer for my dream Geography graduate job, and now I look back and realise it could not have worked out any better. I do sometimes worry that anyone could turn around and reject me; but I just remind myself every day that it has nothing to do with who I am as a person. Going through what I have has given me chance to take a step back from hectic emotional situations and work out what I really wanted; it may have been horrible at the time but I am finally thankful.
Rejection hurts more when you think you’re meant to be following the same path as everyone else and your life doesnt match up. But everyone is unique and everyone leads a completely different life, that’s what’s so exciting. Respect your uniqueness and it will help you battle those negative emotions brought up by rejection, self-approval is what truly matters.
I have no idea how to write a piece on triggers without triggering someone, so this is a heads up. Please look after yourself when reading this, and I wont take it personally if you don’t read it.
Recovery takes hard work and dedication, it takes soul searching and a huge amount of self awareness. Recovery is an ongoing process, well it is for me any way. It’s not like I woke up one day and thought “oh hey I’m perfectly fine now and couldn’t imagine hurting myself in anyway shape or form ever again.”
It doesn’t work like that.
I’ve been in recovery for my disordered eating and self-injury for years now, I’m doing pretty good, weeks can go by when I don’t think about Self-Harm. But then something will happen and I will have to fight with myself everyday to keep eating, to not physically hurt myself or distance myself from people.
My journey is tied up in my feelings of control, not having enough of it and feeling lost and it’s pretty hard to control when you feel out of control. That is my biggest trigger.
So how do I deal with that?
I have had to learn to recognise that growing sense of anxiety that I feel when things seem chaotic or uncertain, I have to know who to ask for help and when to admit that I need it. I have had to learn other coping mechanisms to deal with that feeling.
But what about the actual trigger, what if unlike me, it is an image or a piece of music, if its specific words or phrases, if a certain thought pattern or smell or any number of other things. How do we help ourselves and keep ourselves safe with that.
There is no hard and fast rule for this. But I do have some guidelines...
Know your triggers – learn what it is that you struggle with, if possible try and avoid it, or limit your exposure until you feel strong enough and confident enough to start dealing with it.
Capture the thought – Sometimes our brains wander and we get lost in thought, or specific images and words get stuck in our heads. What we need to do is capture that thought. To recognise what it is, that is unhealthy and unhelpful and then we need to get rid of that thought, you can always ask a friend to help you breakdown why it is unhelpful and untrue and work through it with you. They can take that thought to court.
Have support – You can tell people that you struggle, it’s good to ask for help, whether it is from a friend, family member or a medical professional. You can tell them specifics, what is helpful and what isn’t. You can also tell people how to spot when you are struggling so that they can keep an eye out and step in without you saying anything. This also means telling them what you DO find helpful.
Be kind to yourself – You are only human, and those who struggle are often really hard on themselves. So be nice, give yourself a break, don’t be afraid to say no or eat that chocolate bar when it is needed. Say nice things to yourself and surround yourself with people who love you.
As I said this is just a guideline, but I know it’s helped me.