Friday, December 13, 2013

My journey so far: From Self Harm to Recovery part 2

Time for part 2 of my self harm blog. This particular post will be discussing why people self harm and why I did. Like I always say this blog is from personal experience. If you have any questions for me just leave them in the comment section. Anyway lets get started.

Why do people self harm? 

A person who self-harms is likely to have gone through very difficult, painful experiences as a child or young adult. At the time, they probably had no one they could confide in, so didn't receive the support and the emotional outlet they needed to deal with it. The experience might have involved physical violence, emotional or sexual abuse. They might have been neglected, separated from someone they loved, been bullied, harassed, assaulted, isolated, put under intolerable pressure, made homeless, sent into care, into hospital or to other institutions.

Self-harm includes anything you do to intentionally injure yourself. Some of the more common ways include:
  • cutting or severely scratching your skin
  • burning or scalding yourself
  • hitting yourself or banging your head
  • punching things or throwing your body against walls and hard objects
  • sticking objects into your skin
  • intentionally preventing wounds from healing
  • swallowing poisonous substances or inappropriate objects
Self-harm can also include less obvious ways of hurting yourself or putting yourself in danger, such as driving recklessly, binge drinking, taking too many drugs, and having unsafe sex.

Warning signs that a family member or friend is cutting or self-injuring

Because clothing can hide physical injuries, and inner turmoil can be covered up by a seemingly calm disposition, self-injury can be hard to detect. However, there are red flags you can look for (but remember—you don’t have to be sure that you know what’s going on in order to reach out to someone you’re worried about):
  • Unexplained wounds or scars from cuts, bruises, or burns, usually on the wrists, arms, thighs, or chest.
  • Blood stains on clothing, towels, or bedding; blood-soaked tissues.
  • Sharp objects or cutting instruments, such as razors, knives, needles, glass shards, or bottle caps, in the person’s belongings.
  • Frequent “accidents.” Someone who self-harms may claim to be clumsy or have many mishaps, in order to explain away injuries.
  • Covering up. A person who self-injures may insist on wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather.
  • Needing to be alone for long periods of time, especially in the bedroom or bathroom.
  • Isolation and irritability. 

Why do people Self Harm?
 It’s important to acknowledge that self-harm helps you—otherwise you wouldn’t do it. Some of the ways cutting and self-harming can help include:
  • Expressing feelings you can’t put into words
  • Releasing the pain and tension you feel inside
  • Helping you feel in control
  • Distracting you from overwhelming emotions or difficult life circumstances
  • Relieving guilt and punishing yourself
  • Making you feel alive, or simply feel something, instead of feeling numb
Once you better understand why you self-harm, you can learn ways to stop self-harming, and find resources that can support you through this struggle.

How does cutting and self-harm help?

In your own words

  • It expresses emotional pain or feelings that I’m unable to put into words. It puts a punctuation mark on what I’m feeling on the inside!”
  • It’s a way to have control over my body because I can’t control anything else in my life.”
  • “I usually feel like I have a black hole in the pit of my stomach, at least if I feel pain it’s better than feeling nothing.
  • I feel relieved and less anxious after I cut. The emotional pain slowly slips away into the physical pain.”
It’s important to acknowledge that self-harm helps you—otherwise you wouldn’t do it. Some of the ways cutting and self-harming can help include:
  • Expressing feelings you can’t put into words
  • Releasing the pain and tension you feel inside
  • Helping you feel in control
  • Distracting you from overwhelming emotions or difficult life circumstances
  • Relieving guilt and punishing yourself
  • Making you feel alive, or simply feel something, instead of feeling numb
Once you better understand why you self-harm, you can learn ways to stop self-harming, and find resources that can support you through this struggle.

If self-harm helps, why stop?

  • Although self-harm and cutting can give you temporary relief, it comes at a cost. In the long term, it causes far more problems than it solves.
  • The relief is short lived, and is quickly followed by other feelings like shame and guilt. Meanwhile, it keeps you from learning more effective strategies for feeling better.
  • Keeping the secret from friends and family members is difficult and lonely.
  • You can hurt yourself badly, even if you don’t mean to. It’s easy to misjudge the depth of a cut or end up with an infected wound.
  • If you don’t learn other ways to deal with emotional pain, it puts you at risk for bigger problems down the line, including major depression, drug and alcohol addiction, and suicide.
  • Self-harm can become addictive. It may start off as an impulse or something you do to feel more in control, but soon it feels like the cutting or self-harming is controlling you. It often turns into a compulsive behavior that seems impossible to stop.
The bottom line: self-harm and cutting don’t help you with the issues that made you want to hurt yourself in the first place.

IN the end, if your self harming you need to seek help. Find someone you can confide in. It took me a while so find someone I could confide in. But once I did I find relief. IM here to say it gets better. And for now that is all. I can send you reference on this info if requested. Have a good day everyone.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Journey from Self Harm to Helping Others

It’s time for another Blog. This one is going to be a bit more serious than others I’ve done. This blog will be on a very taboo subject. Something that isn’t talked about very much. This is going to be on Self Harm. Before any of the hate comments begin I want to say; yes I’ve dealt with this, Yes I did relapse on September 27th 2013. I’m being transparent about my experience. This blog will cover my experience with Self Harm and some facts/Myths about it. Now to start off with what is self-harm? “Self-harm is a way of expressing and dealing with deep distress and emotional pain. As counterintuitive as it may sound to those on the outside, hurting yourself makes you feel better. In fact, you may feel like you have no choice. Injuring yourself is the only way you know how to cope with feelings like sadness, self-loathing, emptiness, guilt, and rage.”

Now we’re going to take a little journey through my life. I started suffering from self-harm at a semi young age. I was about 13 or 14 when I started. I bit myself and burned myself. When I was 13 I was going through a transitional point in my life. I was dealing with my parents getting divorced. I was doing the typical “blaming” myself and wanting things to be different. My parents separated. They didn’t hate each other at least. I do have the scars on my arms. They serve as a constant reminder of how much I’ve overcome through the grace of God. And for that I’m thankful. Financially things got tight for my mom, brother, & I. But we kept our faith in God. My Dad eventually got remarried and my mom did some dating but not a whole lot for a while. I started biting myself as a way to control some of the pain around me. It was the one thing I had complete control of. I did the whole therapy for depression and the Self Harm, but I knew most of the Doctors were quacks. For the record I do endorse Doctors and medication if done properly. My Doctors didn’t know what they were doing. I went through quite a few therapist during this time. As I went on with life, I had to learn to accept something’s. For example; my dad getting remarried, my mom dating, and me dating. I didn’t have much luck with dating. (No offense to my ex’s from High School) I had a couple girlfriends but most of them didn’t last over 3 months. Some didn’t even last a week hah. I dated one girl off and on for several years. She was a good woman but wasn’t the right one for me. Now fast forward to sophomore year.

My mom gets married to a bad dude. To put this short he was a drunk and not exactly my favorite person in the world. She finally divorces him but he causes so much drama for the family. IT was right before this my brother got married and went to basic training and all that kind of fun stuff. SO at this point it’s only my mom and I. We ended up in Florida for summer of 2006. That summer I felt like I grew up. I had to become more independent that summer. And I did. My mom was working a lot in Cape Coral Florida. I was hanging out at the card shop or on the beach or Books-A-Million most of the time. I loved it. I made some awesome friends that summer. I do wonder what ended up happening to them though. The original plan was for us to move down there. I was sort of okay with it actually. I wanted a fresh start. Everyone back in North Carolina knew me as Howard the geek. I wanted change. But ultimately we decided to come back to North Carolina. We got back on an early Saturday Morning. We didn’t tell anyone we were coming back. Not my dad or best friend. My best friend, Mike was the first person I wanted to see. Him &  his family. I walked over to his house and knocked on the door. His mom answered it. He wasn’t home yet. She looked at me and smile and about fell in the floor. She cried and hugged me. We talked for several hours before my best friend came home. He was working. Then sometime later I went to Books A Million in Goldsboro to see my card game friends. Everyone was shocked to see. I caught up with old friends and it was nice.

During this summer I didn’t self-injury or have the urges to. My mom’s ex finally left us alone. Once my senior year stared back up then I had to get on medicine and all for the self-injury and depression. The medicines made me feel like a zombie. This caused me to drop the ball with my grades towards the end of the year. But I passed and went on the college. While in college I didn’t date very much. I had urges to bit or burn myself but I resisted those urges. Each time I resisted it felt like a small victory. 

After high school I stopped with the self-injury until September 27th of this year. The stress of life got to me for a split second and I bit myself leaving a scar on my right wrist. My youth pastor, Daniel Weeks spoke with me that night/the following morning. I don’t know if he knows how much helped me and potentially saved my life that night. I mean I don’t think it would’ve came to that point or anything. But it was great to know my youth pastor was there regardless. There were others who didn’t want to be mentioned in the blog.

And of course during college I got engaged and drifted away from God. Which was bad. By no means am I speaking bad about my ex or that situation. But to put it short and sweet. I made decisions that made me who I am today. Those decisions brought me to the churches I go to and serve at, Goldsboro Worship Center, & Bethel Church. Ill write an individual blog on this part of the story. I didn't self harm in this time. Felt like it at times. BUt i resisted. She did know of that part of my past.

This break up brought me  back to the game I know and love called Beyblade. But I wrote a blog on that. I did a lot of stuff so far in Beyblade I never thought I could do. See my other blog for that.

 Now I look back over the last couple months since this happened. Have I had the urges, absolutely. But I have a support system in place of people who are there for me when I need the help. I have people who make sure I’m not falling back into it. It’s a daily struggle, but each day I resist is a small victory. And it takes several small victories to make it to the big one.

This is my story so far. That was a bit longer then I anticipated.

Here are some myths/facts about self harm. All true, I know from experience.

Because cutting and other means of self-harm tend to be taboo subjects, the people around you—and possibly even you—may harbor serious misconceptions about your motivations and state of mind. Don’t let these myths get in the way of getting help or helping someone you care about.
Myth: People who cut and self-injure are trying to get attention.
Fact: The painful truth is that people who self-harm generally do so in secret. They aren’t trying to manipulate others or draw attention to themselves. In fact, shame and fear can make it very difficult to come forward and ask for help.

Myth: People who self-injure are crazy and/or dangerous.
Fact: It is true that many people who self-harm suffer from anxiety, depression, or a previous trauma—just like millions of others in the general population. Self-injury is how they cope. Slapping them with a “crazy” or “dangerous” label isn’t accurate or helpful.

Myth: People who self-injure want to die.
Fact: Self-injurers usually do not want to die. When they self-harm, they are not trying to kill themselves—they are trying to cope with their pain. In fact, self-injury may be a way of helping themselves go on living. However, in the long-term, people who self-injure have a much higher risk of suicide, which is why it’s so important to seek help.

Myth: If the wounds aren’t bad, it’s not that serious.
Fact: The severity of a person’s wounds has very little to do with how much he or she may be suffering. Don’t assume that because the wounds or injuries are minor, there’s nothing to worry about.

Now that we've gone over some of the myths and facts. The next blog will be about support and dealing with self injury. I never thought Id publish this blog. But I guess I did. Any questions just leave them in the comment section. Be blessed.

Howard Howell