*The following post talks about self harm and may be triggering. Please ensure you are in a safe place before reading. If you or someone you know is struggling with self harm please speak to a mental health professional or your GP*
This year it has been 13 years since I started self harming. People believe that if you don’t actively self harm anymore then you shouldn’t really say that you are a self harmer or a person who self harms. However I think of the action of self harming as an addiction, and so it is something that I have to work hard to not engage in.
It may seem like a pretty easy thing to do for someone who has never self harmed, had an addiction or engaged in other risky behaviour. I mean really, we avoid dangerous things all of the time right? Self harm however is more than that, the reasons are varied and while it can be about pain for a lot of people, the pain is very different to an accidental injury.
When I was pregnant I naively thought that it would be enough to stop the self harm for good. I thought that it would give me enough of a reason to stop. I thought that I wouldn’t ever think about it again, because I have this life growing inside me. I also had someone tell me that they would call the authorities if I expressed self harm thoughts. I pulled that statement in and let it fester.
The self harm thoughts didn’t go away. Not then, not now. I felt overwhelming guilt that having a child to care for wasn’t enough to stop those thoughts. I felt that I was being a bad mother because I had these thoughts. I was too scared to tell anyone because I didn’t want to lose my son, despite the logical part of me knowing that this wasn’t true.
The first time that I reached out, and I called the crisis team, I was met with my own insecure feelings being projected back at me. I had a child and I was selfish to think about hurting myself was the advice that I was given. Due to my phone phobia and irrational thoughts it had already taken me most of the day to make the phone call. To have my own thoughts echoed back at me was too much.
This has been my experience whenever I reach out about immediate self harm thoughts. I am always told to think of my child, to think about how lucky I am and to be grateful. I do know that on the surface of course we need to think about the impact of our actions on our loved ones. However, the reason I am reaching out is because I have thought about the impact, and I don’t want to follow through on those thoughts.
Self harm thoughts are still something that I struggle with on a regular basis. I’m not afraid to admit that now because I know that they are just thoughts. Self harm thoughts come at times like a punch in the stomach, and other times they slip in quietly. They are still my first thought when things go wrong, but they are no longer my only thought.