Epidemic

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*The following post may be triggering to those who are struggling with self harm thoughts. Please make sure you are feeling safe before reading.*

If you or someone you know is contemplating hurting themselves please get in contact with a GP, go to your closes ED or give the wonderful people at Lifeline a call.
On 60 minutes on Sunday, they did a story on Self Harm. I will admit that I was apprehensive about it and didn’t actually watch it until it was available online. After I knew that other people had watched it.  After I knew whether they had portrayed it in an understanding light.  I just knew that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to deal with it, if it was anything else.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have self harmed in the past.  It is something that I deal with on a constant basis. It is something that I will probably deal with for the rest of my life.  Was it easy to stop? No. Not at all.
Self harm has been toted as ‘attention seeking’ among other derogatory things.  Things like that do nothing for the shame and guilt that someone who self harms or has self harmed feels.  The worst comments I have received have actually been from ‘professionals’. The pearlers have been when presenting to the local Emergency Departmet with injuries that needed medical attention ranging from ‘so’, ‘you know you’re doing it the wrong way’ to when presenting with self harm thoughts and not actions ‘just come back when you’ve done it’.  Emergency Departments are the first port of call for mental health patients and really need to be trained in ways to deal with these patients. Psychiatrist Professor Graham Martin talks about it during his interview.
 
“I hear of therapists running away. I hear of people in hospital running away. Nursing staff who can’t face up to somebody who has cut themselves deliberately. Because they’re not important, and they did it to themselves, and they’re just attention seeking. I don’t believe any of that. I think when somebody goes to these lengths, they need help.”
One of the most common questions asked of someone who self harms I think is “What made you think to pick up something to hurt yourself with”.  There is no one moment when you think oh yep this is what I am going to do. It is something done out of desperation, of feeling like there is nothing else that will work.  When I started I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would still be struggling with urges 10 years later.  That 10 years later, whenever things get shit, it is my first port of call.  One of the girls interviewed for the story I think sums it up perfectly.
 
” I don’t remember why I chose self-harm. The chaos and the feelings that were all trapped inside my head got to a point where I needed something.”
I was quite impressed with the way that the story was portrayed in such a sensitive way.  It didn’t poke fun or minimise the behaviour in anyway. I just hope that this story was able to reach a few people, to help them understand.

19 thoughts on “Epidemic

  1. Jess@Diary of a SAHM

    I didn’t see the documentary some can’t comment on that. I’ve never self harmed, but at the height of my depression there were moments when I did wonder if cutting myself would actually allow me to feel something, even of it hurt. I never actually did it, but I guess, in a teeny way I can understand why someone would.

    I hate the stigma that surrounds any kind of mental illness. I don’t think people realise that no one wants to hurt themselves, it’s just that seem to have run out of any other options, and obviously need some help.

    I think you’re doing incredibly well to be able to openly admit this, and battle it constantly. That takes a huge amount of strength. Xxx

    Reply
  2. Alison

    I don’t self harm but have other mental health issues. Anyone who is deliberately ignorant enough to believe it is simply attention seeking, or to attack someone who is struggling with this, the best we can do is ban, block and ignore them. Not all opinions are created equal, sick of the internet giving morons a chance to reach real people.

    I reckon anyway (aside from the terminally fucking stupid and ill educated, the sort of people who think Big Brother is classic TV) anyone else who attacks a person with mental health issues has many deep issues of their own that they are simply too cowardly to face, just as latent homosexuals become homophobes, people with deep seated mental health issues they are terrified of often become mentalhealthophobes.

    Reply
  3. tahlia @ the parenting files

    working with many people that self harm I know the inner pain and struggle that people go through. I hear people tell me all the time, they don’t see another choice. I guess my role is to try and help people work through their pain, struggles and sadness and hopefully reach a point where they dont feel the need to hurt themselves anymore.

    It is a journey, a challenge, xx

    Reply
  4. Crash Test Mummy

    I’m saddened by the responses you’ve had in the past, from professionals no less. I’m glad the 60 minutes piece was sensitive. Education is important to remove the stigma and get people the help they need.

    Reply
  5. Me

    Thank you for this post Tegan. It has given me a little more insight into how someone who self harms feels. K used to self harm – she says that she has stopped but I do worry about it when I see that she is feeling down. Sending heaps of love, hugs and positive energy your way !
    Thank you for stopping by my blog as well – lovely to have you over !
    Have the best day !
    Me

    Reply
  6. Tash Hughes

    Mental health issues are so hard – you can’t see a problem so for many years it was just a weakness and something to ignore as much as possible. I think it is the ignorance that needs to be dealt with so professionals know how to deal with people, especially in emergency departments. However, even if you don’t know much about {whatever mental illness} it doesn’t mean you can’t be respectful to all people.

    I hope you find your way out of the need to self-harm Tegan.

    Reply
    1. Tegan Post author

      However, even if you don’t know much about {whatever mental illness} it doesn’t mean you can’t be respectful to all people. – This exactly!

      Reply
  7. Ness

    I remember watching that particular 60 Minutes story and being surprised that it was handled sensitively, too. I’m glad you were able to stop even though it wasn’t easy. I don’t understand why mental health patients are treated badly by health professionals. If a person has smoking related Cancer they are treated the same as somebody who has non smoking related Cancer. I don’t get it. Maybe in order to be able to work in a ED a person has to be hard hearted or something, whereas I would have thought compassion would be essential as well. xo

    Reply
    1. Tegan Post author

      I was very surprised at the way it was handled as we know that news prefer to sensationlise a subject and don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. I sometimes wonder why people who appear to have no compassion for people choose to work in a field where compassion is so important.

      Reply
    1. Tegan Post author

      As someone who self harms and has friends who do it too, my heart aches for them. I wouldn’t wish Mental Illness or self harm on anyone.

      Reply
  8. Lani

    Mental health is very, very common and yet a lot of people don’t understand it at all. When I had depression in my early 20s, I really struggling with the ‘image’ of it because I thought it was a sign of weakness; I didn’t know it was an actual medical condition. Luckily I went to a great GP who really helped me. I’m so sorry for what you’ve gone through and continue to struggle with. It is remarkable that you are handling it with such insight and honesty. Hugs xx

    Reply
    1. Tegan Post author

      Thank you for your kind words Lani. It’s worrying that Mental Health is so common and yet so many people continue to pretend it doesn’t exist. Applying the same logic to any other kind of illness and there would be an uproar and yet MH is swept under the rug.

      Reply
  9. Kirsty @ My Home Truths

    Thanks for writing about this issue in such a sympathetic way Tegan. I have never self-harmed but I know others who have and it is definitely a cry for help not a cry for attention. We can only hope that more understanding develops in the community as well as in the health profession.

    Reply
    1. Tegan Post author

      Yes, especially in the health profession. Many people take a long time to work up the courage to seek help and are then shut down. It’s really not helpful at all.

      Reply

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