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Self-Harming: Not Just a Teenage Girl Thing

Helping you to calm your heart, stretch your mind, strengthen your internal resources, and build your skills to face life’s difficulties


SELF HARM AWARENESS MONTH 


 

Insights
March 1, 2017
Self-Harm Awareness Month

Self-Harming: Not Just a Teenage Girl Thing

“…when I look at my arms, I don’t think revolutionary. I think sad, and pain, but not revolutionary.”     – Kathleen Glasgow, Girl in Pieces

Distraction. Release. Punishment. Attention. Temporary high. These are just a few commonly cited reasons for causing self-harm, which commonly includes cutting but can also include biting, burning, hitting, scratching, and hair or eyelash/brow pulling, to name a few. While it can be difficult tracking self-harming statistics, as the act is often hidden from others, some experts believe that around 13% of young people may try hurting themselves on purpose at some point between 11-16 years, and there has been a sharp rise among 10-14 year olds in recent years (www.selfharm.co.uk).

While self-harming is often thought to be a “young girls’ issue”, boys and adults—male and female—are also affect- <click here to continue reading>

ed. While adult self-harming may be a sign of a psychiatric disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder, it isn’t always the case. Sometimes, it’s simply an outward expression of unmanaged emotions.

Self-harming is not usually associated with suicidal behavior, although if severe enough, injuries can have lasting effect and/or become life threatening. Motivations for self-harming vary, and trying to understand why a loved one is intentionally causing themselves pain can be difficult.

According to Insights therapist Ashleigh Lester, specializing in a variety of social, behavioral, and circumstantial issues among teens and tweens: “Many of my clients struggling with self-injurious behaviors report feeling disconnected from, invisible to or invalidated by caregivers. Others discuss feeling either emotionally empty or emotionally overwhelmed. When discussing the process of self-injury, many individuals describe experiencing a numbing, calming, or pleasurable sensation. This makes sense when we begin to understand that endorphins are quickly secreted into the bloodstream when one self-injures, thereby creating a ‘high,’ which can provideindividuals with relief from emotional distress; allow a mechanism to feel something over which they are in control; and serveas a medium for expressing internal feelings in an external manner. Ihave found over and over again that individuals who self-injure struggle with emotional understanding, expression and regulation, which become central components of our work together.”

If you or a loved one is self-harming, seek help from a professional. Learning how to manage emotions through talk therapy, relaxation techniques, or meditation/prayer can make a tremendous difference not only in the way you feel today, but also in the way you view and treat yourself tomorrow.

 

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