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:
A New Year reflection by Elizabeth.
First and foremost a shout out to SelfharmUK, they have been doing such a fantastic job of providing a platform for people to speak out.
When I started to open up about the challenges I was facing, (most of which only existed in my mind), things started to change for me. We all go through tough times, but know that without the valleys you can’t enjoy the hilltop experiences. So, here’s a little bit of my journey to where I am now.
Reflection for me is something I don’t do very often, I find it hard to do, particularly in the business of life. I find myself either constantly planning for the next thing and not enjoying each moment or being distracted by things around me (like pointless new feeds on my phone!). I noticed that I got to the point where I found it quite hard to remember what I was doing throughout each day. So, in January as we always do, I decided before I went to bed, I would reflect on the day and be thankful for conversations I had that day, people I’d met and moments I would learn from. Well like January resolutions happen, it started and stopped. One thought I do remember though, is how excited I was for the year ahead as I had several opportunities of leading at events and I had a few little breaks away with family. Little did I know that on one of my long weekends away, my boyfriend would propose to me! You never know what's around the corner.
In January I was starting a new job as a youth and children’s worker in my hometown, Leighton Buzzard. It has been my passion to be able to work with young people in my local area. Having struggled a lot, myself at school with friendships, self-confidence, and academia, I wanted to give back where my youth leaders had helped me. This new role couldn’t have come at a more poignant time. When I returned home, I found out that sadly there were three suicides in quick succession over the Christmas period. For me this just solidified the reasons why I wanted to go back. There desperately needed to be more support for every family, schools, and community.
Throughout this past year I’ve learned many lessons from this new role, some of which have been very painful, but all of which have helped build my character for the better. People pleasing, rest and time management are a few of those things I needed to change. I know that if I want to work with families, schools and communities I won’t please everyone. Not only that, I can’t take on other people’s problems, I can be there as someone to be listening and supporting, but I must learn to rest and take time out for me. Otherwise, I’ll burn out! This is something I find very difficult and I am constantly being reminded of that. For me, my relationship with Jesus is paramount to my everyday life, my identity is not in how much I do, or if something is successful or not, it is that I am loved by my father in Heaven.
One reflection this year I have enjoyed remembering is, the priceless moments of being able to tell those who needed to hear, listen to those who needed an ear and walk alongside those who needed a peer. Whether it be in our mums and tots’ groups, Sunday Celebrations, or our youth connect groups. I have been given the chance to have those one to one times and hear other stories. We have all taken some helpful insights from each other and been able to apply it to our life.
As each month has passed, I could easily have forgotten all the amazing opportunities I had. One, because I wanted to forget, and two, because of sheer busyness. I was being drawn out of my comfort zone so many times. On a few occasions, I was so anxious that I wanted to turn around and run away. I had to battle in my mind, constant negative thoughts, and the lies I kept hearing in my head like “I can’t do this”, “I’m not good enough”, “people are annoyed with you” etc. I can’t say I loved being in that place, but I can say we all go through hills and valleys. Without the bad experiences, you can’t appreciate the good ones. What good moments have you had this year that have helped shape you for the better?
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:
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.
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.
Lahna talks to us about Sexuality and Self-harm
Some useful links:
SelfharmUK (that's us!): selfharm.co.uk
Mermaids (Trans* charity): mermaids.org.uk
Albert Kennedy Trust (LGBTQ+ charity): akt.org.uk
Stonewall (LGBTQ+ charity): stonewall.org.uk
Mind (Mental Health Charity): mind.org.uk
Childline (Child Support Charity): childline.org.uk or 0800 1111 or app "For You"
Young Minds (Mental Health Charity): youngminds.org.uk or Parents Helpline 0808-802-5544
Jo Introduces us to the programme and what to expect over the summer.
The Pride celebrations in London are over for another year, but coming out can still feel like a struggle. The blog post below was written by Lydia. She hopes you find it helpful.
Coming out for many people is hard. But not for everyone. My own experiences shone a light on how enlightening this experience and care free it can be. In the past month I have finally come out as bisexual.
Before it happened I was petrified, being bisexual was never something I was completely sure on. Liking someone of the same sex I had never denied the possibility but I had also never embraced it until it happened. My own experiences of coming out might be or have been extremely different from anyone else. Everyone is different that's how we're made and how we experiences life is also extremely different from one another.
Coming out for me felt like I was finally being able to be who I wanted to be and like who I wanted to like. I had decided years before I was going to wait until I found someone of the same sex before I came out as bisexual. This decision was made by myself so I could find someone who I liked and take it at my own pace. The decision was also made so I myself I knew I like the same sex more than as friends since it was something I had questioned. And it happened. I found her. And it was like a tsunami sweeping me away when it happened. It was the most liberating and freeing thing I could have ever experienced. But fear also began to consume me. I had never dated a girl before so what would everyone think? But I thought about it, a lot. And I came to realise that there's millions of people out there who identify themselves in the LGTBQI society. I wasn't alone in this and this wasn't uncommon thing to be going through. Telling my family was the easy bit, luckily for me they were accepting and weren't phased by me being with a girl. My friends, what can I say? They were great about it, confused and questioning where it had come from but supportive.
The impact coming out has had on my life has been incredibly positive. It's helped me overcome so many battles and issues and made me realise that it's okay to be myself. I've realised that the people who will talk are the people who don't understand and that's ok, that's not your fault, it's up to them to educate themselves. It also been a way of me accepting myself more and learning to love myself for who I am. Because I am a strong independent woman who falls in love with whoever I want to and I won't conform to anyone's expectations. I highly recommend for those still in question about coming out to do it. Because you in yourself will feel so much better for it.
To sum coming out in one word I'd use ‘empowering’.
You can also visit the Stonewall website for further support.
For more information about self-harm in LGBTQI young people, check out our Facts page.
A broken heart hurts. It doesn’t matter how long you knew someone for or how often you saw them. If you have feelings for them and they don’t feel the same, they broke your heart and nothing will ever change that.
This may be your first heart break or you may have had your heart broken too many times to count. However many times it’s happened, it still hurts EXACTLY the same.
That pain in your chest that you’re carrying around makes you wonder if you’ll ever feel truly happy again. Sure, you can still smile. Like when your friends make you laugh, or you see something funny on Facebook. But you don’t feel it on the inside. All you feel is pain and emptiness, because the only person who can really make you happy right now - is gone. And they are never coming back.
OK, so they didn’t die. But they may as well have. They aren’t a part of your life anymore and all the things you loved about them are gone too.
I’m not talking about love here. Well I am, but you don’t have to be in love with someone to feel sad when they decide not to be a part of your life anymore. A friend of mine once said “I’ve been in enough relationships now to know that I haven’t really been in love with the people I’ve dated.”
She liked them A LOT. But the older she got, and the more couples she met, the more she came to realise that to love someone (and to be loved in return) is much more than just texting every day and spending time together at weekends.
Whilst you may not have truly loved them, you’ve still lost someone important to you through no choice of your own. And even though you might have known deep down that they wouldn’t be in your life for ever - you still secretly hoped they would.
If you type ‘heart break advice’ into Google right now, you’ll get a lot of tips (particularly around listening to Taylor Swift songs) about how to ease the pain of a broken heart. After you’ve read this blog, I suggest you do this (listening to Taylor Swift songs are optional however!).
I didn’t write this blog to give you advice about how to fix your broken heart. I wrote it because heart break can sometimes feel like the loneliest pain in the world, and I wanted you to know that you’re not alone. It can often be the type of pain that gets joked about or only associated with books or films. Sure, heart break will forever be a GREAT excuse to sit around watching Netflix for a whole weekend, not bothering to wash and eating as much ice cream and chocolate you can get your hands on! But what if the pain you’re feeling goes deeper than that?
Have you ever tried explaining to someone else that your heart feels like it’s been smashed to bits? Not easy is it. And that’s how heart break can so easily be dismissed. Because you can’t explain how you feel. Plus, even if you could, you feel pretty embarrassed and foolish that you trusted someone with your heart in the first place.
However you feel, know that your feelings are valid. Know that the pain you feel right now, is OK to feel. Sit with it. And cry with it. Don’t try to understand it or fix it. Just know that when it goes, you’ll be a stronger person because of it.
The blog post below was written by a lovely lady called Emma, who got in touch with SelfharmUK to share her story about her recovery from bulimia and self-harm.
What I am writing here is really a love letter to my younger self, and I hope that it will help you too. You see, I grew up not knowing how to love myself. In fact, it felt selfish to do that. I felt, for many, many years, that I was somehow a bad and unlovable person. I developed a lot of ‘coping strategies’ to keep myself feeling that I could not be hurt by other people.
I don’t know what tactics you are using, but mine were mainly around pretending: pretending to be confident, pretending to be friendly, pretending to be happy, pretending to be transparent and open – and all the time, inside, I hated myself (and many of them), I didn’t trust anyone, I was self-harming, bulimic and generally wishing that I was dead.
There is so much stigma about mental health, when all it really is – is some sad memories and an imbalance of the chemicals in our brain. Isn’t it weird that society makes it seem more than that? That we feel embarrassed to be sick? Stupid, isn’t it. Well – I’m not embarrassed anymore. I am proud – very, very proud for having the courage to say I was sick, and continuing my journey to get well.
People often think that when we have depression and anxiety or hurt ourselves, we are being selfish – that we are ‘wrapped up’ in ourselves. I often found that people criticised me in that way. And yet I felt that I was living for others. I must have been – because I didn’t love myself enough to be living for me – back then…
You know what? Self-harm is not selfish. It’s self-preservation. The pain in the heart is so strong that sometimes you feel like you want to just smash the world apart, hit people, break things, scream, set the world on fire, destroy your life and that of those around you. So, instead of doing those things, we turn the pain inwards and cut, scrape, pick, harm our own bodies… or stuff our bellies and throw it up… or refuse to eat… because for a little while we get to be in control, we get to decide - and while we are feeling that physical pain, we get some relief from the torture inside our chemically unbalanced little minds and our sad hearts.
I don’t know your exact circumstances or what you are doing to yourself in order to try to handle those very difficult feelings. But let me tell you something, I know for a fact that you are trying! I know for a fact that, right now, as you read this blog, you are doing your very best to try and get well. People who want to stay depressed, anxious or unhappy do not surf the internet to find blogs like this one. Because you are looking for advice and help, you are on your way towards health.
Let that be a source of hope for you. I am so proud of you for investing in yourself by reading this blog. We have never met, but I promise you, you are more deeply loved than you can ever imagine. Recovery is not easy, but you can get well – and you have already started your journey of recovery. Keep going! I promise you, you can do this. I know you find it so very hard to believe – but I promise you, you can.
Lots of love,
Living with dark thoughts is like living with any invisible illness; no one knows what’s going on in your head.
You are wearing a mask and no one can see what is going on behind that; maybe you don’t take the mask off because you fear what people will think of you if you did; maybe you don’t take the mask off because you are fearful of what you will find; maybe you keep the mask on because it feels easier at the moment.
Feeling low and out of balance in yourself is the same as if you had a bad pain in your arm: you wouldn’t leave it too long before getting it checked out. We all have bad days that sometimes-become bad weeks- when the week becomes a fortnight and sleep becomes effected it’s time to get checked out.
In the same way a broken arm doesn’t heal without help; your low mood may not heal with some help. Sometimes some exercise, relaxation techniques and talking can help; sometimes you may need a little more than that.
Going to a GP can feel really threatening, if you are over 16 you can go on your own. Maybe write down how you are feeling because saying it can feel really tough.
Self-harm may be happening because your mask wearing days are causing you anxiety; fear; pain and making you feel at odds with yourself. Self-harm maybe happening because you are angry at yourself for not coping how you feel you should; self-harm may be happening because something horrid has happened to you.
Again, think of it as feeling ill, uneasy with yourself – get yourself checked out. If you don’t feel like making the step to the GP, how about a trusted teacher, a friend, an adult, a family member. Self-harm doesn’t define you; self-harm isn’t going to be your way forever. It is for a short time while you work out a better way.
At SelfharmUK, we know how unwell you must be feeling to be harming yourself, we know it isn’t the choice of someone happy in life. We know we can journey with you through some of your questions and difficulties to help you take off your mask.
The blog post below was written by Ben, a trainee Youth Worker currenlty living in Oundle. Ben reflects on his life so far, the choices he made and how those choices brought him to where he is now.
School and social life can be tough for everyone at some point, but more so when you suffer from various behavioural problems such as anger management, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) and ADD (Attention Deficit disorder).
When I started school, I was just an ordinary young teen who blended into the background and wasn’t even noticed. As I started to grow up, around the age of 13-14, difficulties began to show in my attitude in the classroom. I was starting to show tendencies of an angry, disruptive and argumentative young person. This started to show more during my move into year 10. During that summer I made loads of severe mistakes and managed to get myself into trouble with the police. It wasn’t long after that, when I began to act horribly towards my parents and other people around me. This led through to my massive downfall at school where I had my first suspension for fighting. This had a huge ripple effect on me and my family, as the repercussions from my actions where massive. Towards the end of my time in year 10 it was clear that I had just given up and I couldn’t care what I did and what happened to me. Throughout this time there were moments when I was ready to give up on everything as I didn’t feel or believe I was worth the hassle.
Going into my final year of school I was at my worst, I began to lash out at everyone who even looked at me, and would say and do some horrid things to the teachers around me, including those who were working hard to help me. Midway through year 11 I got into a significant amount of trouble with the police for a fight that I was involved in, this was the breaking point, I had to shape up, or leave home. I narrowly avoided being permanently expelled from school. This lead to me failing my GSCE’s.
I began to go to church pretty much straight after school was finished through a friend who had supported me through my time at school. In my friends’ mind, he felt as if church was the best thing for me, knowing the people who were there and what the church did for him. It was at that church I met several people who were willing to help and support me with my different problems. Ultimately I was very lucky to have met the main youth worker of the church who was willing to give up his time to sit and listen to how I felt for once and was able to relate to me as well as leading me onto a path of respect and change. He even helped to get the relationship between my parents and I stable. I was still not very nice to any of the people who were helping me, but they never gave up on me and made sure I felt listened to and valued!
Within the space of 6 months to a year, I managed to make a full transformation in my life, thanks to the amazing people who gave up and made the time for me. I was finally diagnosed with ADHD, ADD and anger management and received the support I needed. It wasn’t all easy, and I still struggled, as I do now as a 20-year-old man, but I now have the control and help I need to keep myself grounded. As years, have gone on many things have changed and I am now studying at Cambridge University, training as a youth worker, despite being told that I would never amount to anything. My passion is now working with those who are going through what I did.
I just want to say, don’t let what what’s happened in your life define you, don’t let your past mistakes stop you, and don’t let people tell you you can’t make it. You can change your life. You have the power in you to be the best you can, so know that support is there and people understand. This is your life, you can all succeed.
You could say my family is pretty dysfunctional and all over the place, there have been a number of divorces, step siblings have come and gone, and living in two houses can be tiring. But at the end of the day, we are family. However, for me family doesn’t end at this.
During the Easter holiday, I spent a week with a pretty large group of friends who I consider to be family. Why family? I’ve never really thought about the ins and outs of why I felt like I was surrounded by family – it just felt like that. So I had quick think and these were the reasons that immediately sprung to mind:
So I suppose that’s why this great bunch of people feel like family to me, being amongst them just feels like home!
Family doesn’t have to stop at who you live with, or who you are related to.
Who do you consider family?