Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Self-Injury Awareness Day - Don't Judge the Scars

We don't all want to die, for some of us it's our way of staying alive.

Today, 1st of March 2012, is Self-injury Awareness Day. Self-injury happens – so let’s talk about it.
Our society seems to keep very quiet about what is really a pretty large issue. You hear of the stereotypical “emo” who “slits their wrists” but these stereotypes are degrading and far from the truth. Self-injury is a problem which affects many more people than we like to believe. The United Kingdom has got one of the highest rates of self-injury in Europe, and it is now estimated that 1 in 15 young people has had experience with self-injury. Those are the facts – self injury happens - so why don’t we just talk about it? The only way in which we can erase these harsh stigmas is to become more open about it to educate people about the truth. So, here are a few myths:

MYTH: People only self injure to gain attention
FACT: If someone wanted to gain attention there are much easier ways to do so. A new outfit or extravagant make-up would serve that purpose just fine. Also, a lot of self-injurers go to extreme lengths to make sure that people do not find out about their self-harm due to the shame they feel. How can that be for attention?

MYTH: Self-injurers all want to die
FACT: There is a huge difference between self-harm and an attempted suicide. Whilst people who self-injure may be at a higher risk of committing suicide in the long run, self-injury is a coping method, it helps people to cope with their pain. For many people who self injure it is quite the opposite to the myth, they are using it as a coping mechanism to stay alive.

MYTH: If the wounds aren’t “bad” then self-harm isn’t "serious"
FACT: The actual severity of the wounds inflicted does not reflect the amount of emotional turmoil that lead to the event. People self-injure in many different ways and none are more “serious” than others – don’t just assume. You can only know what someone is dealing with by asking them.

MYTH: Self-injury just means cutting
FACT: Self-injury can take many different forms. Although some people may cut it can range from small overdoses to burning with many different forms in between.

People who self-injure should NOT have to feel ashamed, they should feel comfortable enough to seek help. As someone who has suffered from self-injury I can sympathize with people who do not feel comfortable opening up about it. I have had “emo” written on my arm in red pen and had a pair of scissors drawn on my wrist by people who think this is in some way funny. But we should not let this stereotypical, false view of self-injury emerge victorious. I can say it – I have self-injured. I am not proud of it, but it is a fact. For people who self injure our scars are a part of our past and a part that we cannot change. We should not  let those people who judge us for it control us and I am certainly not going to. Here at Minding Me, we are going to speak out, raise awareness and I really hope that others will join me in the battle to change the stigma surrounding self-injury.

Many people will suffer alone, in silence for years before confiding in someone or asking for help. There is no reason to wait as there is a lot of support out there. Whether it be from friends, family, GP, other medical professionals, internet forums or websites. Self-harm leaves scars, physical and emotional, but there are people out there who specialise in restoring confidence, minimising scars and comforting the healing. The NHS can provide both scar reduction gels and skin camouflage make-up on prescription. Please don’t suffer alone, no one deserves that. And if you know someone who suffers with self-injury, please help them to help themselves.

Self injury does not have to be a way of life.

Take a look at these sites for more information and support:

To Write Love On Her Arms

x xx

1 comment:

  1. I finally caught up on my reading. Better late than never, right? just wanted to say what you are doing here is wonderful. Keep it up.


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