So someone has declared today Self Injury Awareness Day. So, yeah. Be aware.
SI isn’t the dirty little secret it once was. I see it referenced frequently in TV shows lately. So probably none of this needs to be said – especially considering my audience. But for the record: if you hurt yourself, you’re not alone, and you’re not crazy.
Chances are if you don’t do it someone you know does it, and it behooves you to educate yourself before you flip out at seeing their scars.
I’m a cutter, although I haven’t had the urge in a long time. For me it was a way to express and externalize pain when I was unable to cry. It was a coping mechanism. Less healthy than exercise, probably, but more healthy than alcohol or other drugs, IMHO.
The knee-jerk response that most people have when they confront self-injury is to try to get the self-injurer to stop. I don’t think that’s necessarily the most helpful reaction. Like any coping behaviour, it’s usually a symptom of deeper issues. As I said in someone else’s journal recently, unless it’s causing serious and irreversable physical damage, OR it’s chronic in the absence of transient outside stressors, then the cutting (or whatever) itself isn’t what needs to be addressed. When it’s in response to a stressful situation, I think it’s usually more productive to address the situation than the self-injury.
One thing you should never do is act like the self-injurer is nuts. Trust me, I speak from experience. It doesn’t help. And it’s not true, either. Self-harm is no more a crazy way to deal with pain than drowning it in booze, engaging in compulsive risky sex, obsessive workaholicism, abusive behaviour – all the “normal” ways people cope with emotional distress.