It’s only superficial.
Does that sound familiar?
I was around 13 when I first self-harmed. That was around 40 years ago – a time where discussion around mental ill health was inexcusably stunted. I thought I was the only person on the planet who’d ever considered such a thing. I mean, self-harm? Why would you? I didn’t even know there was a name for it.
Even today I encounter statements like, ‘Why do you have to keep talking about it?’
And that’s the thing. We musttalk about it. Not just me and the other folk who are already speaking, but everyone. Because it’s hidden in the shadows it’s often seen as some terrifying beast – something that shall not be spoken about unless...
I think the biggest danger facing people who self-harm today isn’t physical injury – it’s the ignorance surrounding it. Without speaking about it, self-harm can become a dark secret, and with that comes its evil siblings, Guilt and Shame. And they can lead us down some really dark and twisted corridors.
Prejudice, discrimination and stigma are all too happy to be sucked into the vacuum left by that same ignorance. Weird assumptions are galvanized into solid beliefs.
The thing is – there really is no excuse for that ignorance. Information and support can be found all around the web.
So why do they do it?
Sorry, why do I do it? In my experience – 17 years as a social worker, 7 years as a mental health campaigner, and 40 years as one who self-harms – there seems to be as many reasons for self-harming as there are people who self-harm.
Most self-harm for different reasons at different times.
I’ve self-harmed at times just to feel, at other times to punish myself for any number of indiscretions I’ve committed through my life, at other times I’ve injured myself so that I have a physical manifestation for my internal agony.
And so what if I self-harmed to get attention? Does that completely invalidate it? What kind of world must an individual be in to use self-injury as a way of expressing a need to connect with other people?
Think before you judge.
I was talking at a conference recently, and a member of the audience reminded me that there is no us and them.
She suggested that people who don’t self-harm are in the minority.
Is that bit far-fetched?
When was the last time you drank too much, ate too much, pushed yourself too far in the gym? Smoked?
Each time you’ve knowingly put your body at risk of damage.
We aren’t that different, you and I.
'We Are Far More United Than The Things That Divide Us'
- Jo Cox
We’re all in this together.
Walk a Mile
Walk a Mile: Tales of a Wandering Loon by Chris Young is for sale on Amazon for the reduced price of £8.99.