32 thoughts on “Self-Harm: The Myths & the Facts

  • July 16, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    Thank you for writing a great article. I also have a past history of self harm and been clean for 5 years. This year I graduated with my masters in mental health counseling and now I work with teens with substance abuse issues. Other then art , I have found writing on the body with a red pen all the negative feelings helped me not to cut and I also found doing puzzles help distract my brain enough to avoid me cutting myself. Keep up the fight’!

    Reply
    • July 16, 2015 at 11:37 pm

      Well done, Melissa! Such an amazing accomplishment and you are helping so many others, I applaud you. Thank you for all that you do.

      All the best

      Nicole

      Reply
  • July 17, 2015 at 5:59 am

    As a BPD sufferer I know self harm all too well! Thanks for this article. Ive just started a blog myself as I believe in the power of sharing and also finding other people who I can relate to.

    Thanks,

    K

    https://renaissanceheart.wordpress.com

    Reply
  • July 18, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    Why not include self harm in the mind, not just the body, as if it as all happens externally? Shaming one’s self is one of the most harmful ways, in which we self-harm. No one wants to talk about shame. That is the problem. And things like affirmations and mindfulness are strategies to cope. This article seems like half of the topic.

    Reply
    • July 20, 2015 at 6:04 am

      HI Jess.

      Thanks for your comment. I did address shame in a previous blog (though not as a form of self-harm.) The link is here if you’d like to take a look: http://bit.ly/1SxrFRr Thank you for offering strategies as well, I’m a big fan of both mindfulness and affirmations and I believe they do wonders for people. I appreciate your comments.

      All the best,

      Nicole

      Reply
  • July 20, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    Thank you so much for writing about this issue Nicole. I finally stopped cutting myself about 7 years ago. The vast majority of my scars are on my upper thigh, none were ever visible. I never revealed them until several years ago. Recently, my mom asked me if “we should look into some sort of plastic surgery.”
    No way! For me, they’re great reminders of how far I’ve come.
    I love all your articles!

    Reply
    • July 22, 2015 at 11:31 am

      Hi there,

      I am happy to read that you have been seven years free from self-harm, well done! I used to be ashamed of my scars, not anymore. I’m proud of you.

      Thank you for reading.

      Nicole

      Reply
  • July 22, 2015 at 11:02 am

    Thanks for a great article that is sure to help others. My son self-harmed when he was dealing with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and, as a mother, it was a difficult thing for me to acknowledge, let alone understand. Thankfully he is doing very well now, but you are so right that we need to share and educate, so that others can benefit. Keep up the great work!

    Reply
    • July 22, 2015 at 11:33 am

      Hi Janet,

      I am happy to read that your son is doing well now. Kudos to you for being such a supportive mother, it’s a scary thing to find out that someone you love is hurting themselves. Your support and understanding means the world. Remember to take care of yourself as well.

      All the best,

      Nicole

      Reply
  • July 22, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Well done article!

    I did want to point out, in the beginning of the article, in the list of higher risk categories, that you list “gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals”. The correct terminology is actually “transgender”. The GLAAD Media Reference Guide explains it well on their website:

    Problematic: “transgendered”
    Preferred: transgender
    The adjective transgender should never have an extraneous “-ed” tacked onto the end. An “-ed” suffix adds unnecessary length to the word and can cause tense confusion and grammatical errors. It also brings transgender into alignment with lesbian, gay, and bisexual. You would not say that Elton John is “gayed” or Ellen DeGeneres is “lesbianed,” therefore you would not say Chaz Bono is “transgendered.”

    Best,

    Evan

    Reply
    • July 22, 2015 at 3:00 pm

      Thank you, Evan.

      I am editing it right now. Please accept my apologies

      All the best,

      Nicole

      Reply
  • July 22, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    I really enjoyed this blog, because you seem very insightful and understanding. This is one of the best articles I have read about self-harm. I hope you continue to do more blogs!
    At the end of your blog, you said that it is brave to ask for help and that “You are never alone”. I agree with what you said, but I also have additional questions about it. For me, I know I am never truly alone because there are so many people with similar problems, but I feel so alone (helpless) when I ask for help and I still can’t seem to get the help I need…I feel like I must be doing so many things wrong to still feel so messed up inside and unable to help myself. I want to be normal = I want to be the person who doesn’t let the small problems tear me up inside and to be able to “leave work at work”. Some people say I’m strong for persevering through all the hard times I’ve went through, but I certainly do not feel strong. Being strong in my opinion is being able to handle the smaller problems in life with ease and peace of mind. How do the people who I view as strong cope? What are their coping mechanisms? I know my coping mechanisms aren’t seeming to help, so what is their secret?
    This is a little off topic, but can you do a blog about positive thinking? I do believe positive thinking can help sometimes, but lately positive thinking has been leading me to have “false hope” in trying to find solutions to difficult problems. I have tried to find solutions to some of my problems that just led me to cause further problems for myself. I’m sure most people would say to me that positive thinking isn’t to blame and that I should “blame” making bad decisions. All I can say is that I exhausted all the solutions to my problem that I could think of and the solutions other people suggested, but to no avail. I tried some not so good solutions (bad decisions) in the hopes of finding the right answer to my problems. I tried the best I could (good and bad), but still no solution. I have finally given up hope on solving the problems. Anyway, when is it okay to give up hope? Should I have given up hope before trying the bad decisions? For me, I couldn’t give up on finding a solution until I did absolutely everything I could think of to fix the problem = good and bad. Of course I regret trying the bad decisions now because they didn’t work, but if they would have worked it would have been worth it.
    I feel like I’m not making much sense at this point, so I’m going to stop rambling, but is there any way that you can touch on a few of these subjects in your upcoming blogs? Thanks for listening!

    Reply
    • July 22, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      Hello Laura.

      I will definitely address some of these in a future blog. Can I recommend you pop over to see me on my Facebook Page? There are a lot (26,000) people there that know exactly how you are feeling. Feel free to come on over. https://www.facebook.com/TheLithiumChronicles?ref=hl
      Nicole

      Reply
  • July 22, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Try to love yourself guys. Do everything in your power to remember as bad as you’ve had it there is someone out there who has had it worse and survived both physically and emotionally.

    Remember that everyone is made up of the same materials flesh, blood etc. and other people are not anymore important than you are. Don’t believe the hype that insecure, narcissistic people continually put out there.

    Cool is for fools! If you only knew how true that statement really is.

    Remember that there is one person who can always love you and that is YOU! If only you would try. Surround yourself with empathetic loving people and if you cannot do that accept that being alone is far better than being surrounded by people who tear you down in even the most subtle of ways.

    Embrace your sensitivity and use it to be creative not just for everyone else for yourself.
    Always take cues from happy “nerds”. Those people who were bullied their entire lives for simply being different who then realized they are just fine being different in fact they embrace and love it.

    Your mentors can be found in places you never even realized or never would have guessed.

    Get in where you fit in.

    Never allow another human being to convince you that you are worthless in any way shape or form regardless of the social power they possess. That includes elders in families, bosses, authorities, psychologists etc etc etc subtly or not.

    Always try to do your very best at being honest with yourself and seek help whenever necessary. There is no shame there only strength.

    Don’t give up!

    Reply
  • July 22, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Where do tattoos fit into this issue?

    Reply
    • July 25, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      Hi Don,

      I don’t really understand what exactly you’re asking here, I’m sorry about that. I have heard that some people choose to get tattoos as a reminder of hard times, a celebration of accomplishments, or even as a symbol to acknowledge and look at when the urge to self-harm comes up. As for use as an alternative to self-harm, I’m really not knowledgable there. I would imagine that this could be the case for some. I had a tattoo designed and placed on a spot on my body that was a spot that I did wound before. Once that art was there, I couldn’t bring myself to deface it. I don’t know if this is the same for others. I’m sorry if I didn’t answer your question properly.

      Nicole

      Reply
      • July 27, 2015 at 3:04 pm

        Nicole,
        I have six tattoos. One could say that each one represents, in part, my history. Each was done at different times over a span of 21 years. Every one has significance for me, from my myth, my totem (given to me), my orientation, my profession, my duelness and, finally, my love of cats. Each tattoo has been added over time, the last to celebrate my 80th birthday this year.
        I relish being old and having my history written on my skin.

        Reply
  • July 22, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Thank you for this. I don’t self harm but felt I should know about this. It is likely I know people who do self harm or may in the future. Knowledge is power

    Reply
    • July 25, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      Hi Jan,

      Thank you for reading and commenting. You’re absolutely right, knowledge is power. Thank you.

      All the best to you,

      Nicole

      Reply
  • July 23, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Please don’t perpetuate the endorphin myth. Many people get a release of endorphins when they exercise, and feel better for it. But a large minority of the world’s population does not. We usually get an increased level of other hormones instead, such as cortisol or testosterone, and that’s not necessarily helpful in a self harm situation.

    And you know what the worst thing about it is? Being told that exercise makes you feel better because it releases “feel-good” hormones! It kind of adds insult to injury, when something makes you feel horrible and other people tell you that you’re supposed to feel better.

    I would also like to challenge your statement that “you are never alone”. Everybody is alone. Nobody can ever know just how another person feels. And even if somebody has similar problems to me, it doesn’t make me one whit less alone – that person has their own problems to deal with, and the last thing I would want to do is inflict myself on them; in addition, they won’t know how I feel, and I won’t know how they feel. Two people who are in the same situation do not automaticallt feel the same things. So in fact I am always alone, and until I understand and accept that, I’m going to feel worse. That is not the same as saying that there’s no help to be had. There is plenty of professional help – but that has nothing to do with whether we are alone or not.

    Reply
    • July 23, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Hello Marge.

      First of all I would like to thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on my blog, I appreciate your input. I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you on the points that you have made.

      While exercise may not be an alternative for everyone, it is a great alternative to self-harm for many others. I would never suggest that it is a cure all, ever. Take what you will from the small list of alternatives I have provided. I know I do feel better after exercise, dancing makes me feel alive, it’s an alternative for me, a recovering self-harmer.

      As for challenging my statement that I have been know to say many times, that is your right, I stand by it. As an advocate and volunteer I do my best to not only express that, but live it. Yes, everyone has a story and everyone is different, but we’re all in this together, and there are people that would never consider you “inflicting” anything on them by leaning on them, I am one of those people. I have met many people who have gone through similar things that I have struggled with, and they “get it”, visit my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TheLithiumChronicles and see for yourself or http://www.stigmafighters.com it’s a non profit organization that I have had the pleasure of working with. It started as an online blog series, real people sharing their stories.

      I wish you all the best, Marge. Thank you again for your comments.

      Nicole

      Reply
  • July 23, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Hello Laura ,

    I liked your article as I found it useful and well written .
    Okay so I’ve had depression for 13 years and probably more mental disorders . I used to self harm but I stopped now , but I still have depression , so I would like to ask you for some advice on how to get over It .

    Sorry for the bad writing style , it’s just my first time asking for help

    Reply
    • July 25, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      Hi John,

      I’m happy that you’ve found the article useful, and I am thrilled that you have stopped self-harming, that is an amazing accomplishment and you should be very proud of yourself.

      I can’t give you advice on how to get over depression John, because the simple and straightforward answer is that we don’t just get over depression. I would suggest that you speak to your doctor and get referred to mental health. If you think yourself that you have other “mental disorders” as you have stated you might, there is help out there. There are so many paths that you can take to help get you feeling better, but the first step is figuring out what’s going on.

      Depression is awful, I know it as I’ve lived it, but there are ways to help you pull out, please talk to your doctor, and don’t stop talking, it’s a good thing to open up. Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m proud of you.

      All the best,

      Nicole

      Reply
  • August 20, 2015 at 1:32 am

    I don’t normally comment of articles but I would just like to say thank you for writing and that I’m very glad I came across this. I’ve been struggling with self harm since middle school, choking myself more specifically, and am now beginning my freshman year of college. I recently told my mother about it in a moment of letting of guard down and I’m going to begin getting help for my anxiety, bipolar and depression soon which I’m thankful for. Unfortunately my mother believes the anxiety and depression is rooted in my social life or thereof and the choking is some sort of sexual gratification. While she’s been trying to act more knowledgeable about these topics than she actually is without research and she (I believe) is still denying some of it mentally it’s refreshing to see that you understand this so well and that you yourself have come so far after having suffered with self harm. It gives me hope that I’ll reach the point you are at and I thank you for that honesty and using this to help others.

    Sincerely,

    A Young Hopeful

    Reply
    • August 22, 2015 at 10:06 am

      Hello Young Hopeful

      I am so happy that you found the blog useful. I do hope your mother continues to educate herself. I’m happy that you did to choose to tell your Mom, keep speaking out.

      As for how far you’ve come, that is amazing.

      All the best,

      Nicole

      Reply
  • November 14, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Hi Nicola

    I would like to thank you on this amazing site you have put together. I’m also self harmed and stopped about nearly 3 Years ago i suffer depression and PTSD and i’m currently at college and i’m trying to do a presentation on self harm is there any chance you could give me a few tips on what to use in the presentation please

    Reply
    • November 14, 2015 at 10:58 am

      Hello Kimberly,

      I am very proud of you. Well done. What does the presentation focus on? Can you give me a bit more detail? Are you talking about a general overview, focusing on a certain area? A myth/fact kind of presentation?

      Regardless of where the focus lies always include the help lines and places to go for help at the end.

      Nicole

      Nicole

      Reply
  • November 14, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Hi Nicola Its more of an overview and i want to include things like mental health domestic abuse Breavement eating disorders and a couple of others like bullying and maybe transgender just to give people bit more incite to it other than suicide which is the main thing people think it’s related to i’ve been through domestic abuse and i had kids as well while i was self harming which made it worse for me

    Reply
    • November 22, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      Hi Kimberly,

      Did you find the resources you were looking for?

      Reply
  • November 14, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Hi Nicola yeah it’s a general overview mainly but want to include domestic violence ,mental health, breavement, bullying, eating disorders and transgender if possible as i’ve been in violent relationships which then resulted in me self harming but my children were living with me at the time as well

    Reply
  • November 15, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Thank you for addressing a difficult issue. I began to self-harm at a very young age and have continued to do so–despite much effort–for twenty years. My question is how do I find a therapist who is willing to dig into this issue with me? In the office I present as quite balanced (haha) but it’s more or less an illusion caused by me feeling comfortable in the therapist-client relationship. Many therapists have blown off my problem as a minor symptom (my diagnosis is BPD) or shown reluctance to even raise the issue. I can’t quite bring myself to show off the deep scars hidden on my body, so how do I convey the distress that this problem causes me? It’s a huge part of my disorder, but I can’t seem to get it across that I need to address it specifically. Cognitive-behavioral techniques only work when I can catch the urge VERY early: five seconds too late and I’m cutting or burning before I know it. Please comment.

    Reply
    • November 22, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      Hi lowflame,

      I would definitely be asking for referrals to therapists that do indeed focus on healing from self-harm. If any therapist glosses over any issue that you bring up, that’s a red flag for me. Please speak to mental health in your area to see a list of referrals.

      Best,

      Nicole

      Reply
 

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