Posted in Weekly Blog

What is self-harm?

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It was nice to welcome Merrick Pope to the group today as a guest.  Merrick works for the NHS in the self-harm service.  Merrick explained what her role entails and what the different services are within the self- harm service.  The group went on to have discussions around the different forms of self-harm and what the differences were between cutting yourself to drinking/eating or staying in an unhealthy relationship, if you knew they were all bad for you.  We talked about the stigmas surrounding self-harm and mental health in general. As well as the stigmas out there there are also unhelpful myths.  people in our society may make the assumption that self-harm only affects teenage girls, when in reality it affects people from all ages and walks of life.  While things in our society are much better than say 30 years ago, there is still some way to go.  We can all play our part in making a change by encouraging others to speak out about how they feel and help raise awareness of these issues. We would like to thank Merrick so much for giving up her time to be at the group today and for the way in which she made people feel at ease to ask questions.

Below is an interesting article from the http://www.selfharm.co.uk website about the difference between self-harm and suicide;

People who self-harm normally do not wish to kill themselves[1] . Suicide is a way of ending one’s life, but for many people, self-harm is a way of coping with life and being able to continue with living despite the emotional difficulties they may be experiencing. For some, the physical pain of self-harm reassures them they are still alive – this might be because they are experiencing emotional numbness or feeling disconnected from the world around them, or at the other end of the spectrum, feeling more connected and alive than they did previously.

Self-harm can also cause changes in the brain chemistry, which, although ‘satisfying’, can easily become addictive and therefore dangerous.

Sometimes people do die as a result of self-harm. This may be because they have taken an act of harming too far, and they lose their lives before help is found, or it may be they engage in something such as self-poisoning, which carries an incredibly high risk of death if untreated. There is believed to be an increase in suicidal intent if someone is prevented from self-harming. As difficult and challenging as it can be to understand, sometimes self-harm may be the safest option, if the alternative involves a desire to end life. It’s dangerous to prevent someone from harming without providing them with a realistic, alternative coping mechanism that they are willing to engage with.

It is important to know a bit about your body in order to keep yourself safe. Self-harm is never, ever completely safe or free from risks, but there are small things that can make a big difference and maybe save your life. If you are still going to hurt yourself, then it’s important you try and do it in the safest way possible. Losing you would be a tragic waste. Every life has value.

Today the group received a piece of music via twitter by the musician Mark Storey.  Mark performs music about his lived experience with mental health.  Group members were  touched by this beautiful song and could relate to the themes in it.  The song is entitled “I know you’re in there somewhere”.  Enjoy!

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