Often people don’t know why they self-harm, but it is a way of expressing very deep distress. It is a way of communicating what they can’t put into words or think straight about or how they feel. The act of self-harm creates a feeling of being able to cope again in life, for a while.
Self-harm is a wide-ranging term and includes harming oneself by scratching, cutting or burning their skin, beating themselves against objects such as walls, taking a drug overdose, injuring or poisoning themselves. It may even take less apparent forms such as staying in abusive relationships, developing an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia, using alcohol or drugs or any act that is abusive to one’s body or mental state.
Acting in or using in these ways may initially help cope with emotional feelings, painful emotions such as loneliness, guilt, rage, sadness or fear. It may be a way of eliminating the pain, being distracted from it, communicating feelings or to find some comfort. It can give a feeling of being in control of life or used as an act of self-punishment and generally because of feelings of shame, fear or others reactions, people who self-harm will usually hide what they are doing from others.
Self-harm can also be characterised by actions used my most people at times in a self-destructive way, such as overworking, smoking, overeating, drinking too much as a way of avoiding feelings, distracting themselves from painful periods in life.
People who self-harm are more likely to have gone through difficult or painful experiences as a child or young adult, from psychical, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect, bullying, loss, isolation, being placed in care or hospital, to having emotions blocked as a result of not having anyone to talk to and having their self-esteem crushed due to such like experiences. Self-harm therefore becomes a way of communicating their pain, punishing themselves and keeping memories at bay.
During the actual act of self-harm there is generally an absence of pain, causing the individual to use the self-harm act as a way of managing. Some injure themselves to numb the pain, some to know they are alive, some to get feelings of control that they aren’t vulnerable and are safe, and some to convert their emotional pain into physical pain which they feel is easier to bear.
A destructive cycle of self-harming can form due to the feelings that occur after self-harming – shame, guilt etc; this then sets off the behaviour again by using self-harm as a way to deal with the emotional feelings. It is not usually a suicide attempt; it is normally a tool for survival to escape from emotional pain. A small percentage will however initially attempt suicide, generally as a cry for help.
Cortijo Care are here to help.
Treatment at Cortijo Care is set up to help anyone who may be suffering from self-harm and other mental health issues.
Our Rehabilitation programme treats the psychological issues surrounding the mental health problem, enabling clients to learn how to cope with life, learning how to handle emotions and anxieties in a safe place.
Please call us for a no obligation chat on (+34) 952 780 181 about how we can help you or your family member or friend, or complete the contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.