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Depression Mental Health

“I’ve been self-harming, what should I do?”

Self-harm can often be something that people do in secret, and it can feel like a very private way of coping so worrying that someone might find out is a very normal fear.

Perhaps you have scars, and you are ashamed and embarrassed about what you have done to your body. You don’t want to be judged, stared at, or teased, so you cut in private and cover up any marks with your clothes.

You have found this way of harming your body to temporarily help you cope with your emotions and maybe you are scared this will be taken away from you if someone was to find out. 

However, each time you self-harm you realise that the release doesn’t last long and is only a short-term fix. Lots of people feel guilty and ashamed and this can make them want to keep it a secret for longer. 

Living with this secret on your own can sadly give the self-harm more power to take over your thoughts. 

In the beginning it feels like the self-harm helps you stay in control, but perhaps now the self-harm is controlling you. Is it trying to keep you quiet? 

Many people who used to self-harm say that finding other, safer ways to cope actually gives them more control in their life and more freedom from their overwhelming feelings.

Think about who it is you are worried might find out. Is it your friends, your parents, your teachers, or someone else? What do you think they might say or do? 

Maybe part of you doesn’t want to stop self-harming and you’re scared what else you might do to cope with these overwhelming feelings. 

Opening Up About Self-Harm

Is there someone in your life or a professional you could trust and open up to? 

You don’t have to tell the whole world but many people who have stopped self-harming have done so with help from others. Many people find it useful to think about one person they could consider confiding in. It can be really hard to do this alone.

By telling one person you can get some support without having to tell everyone. Speaking to a professional – like a GP or a counsellor – will help you find other ways to cope that can mimic self-harm but are not dangerous. 

By opening up and telling someone first, you are taking back the control as this avoids you having to keep hiding and worrying that they will find out. It might just take one person or a few people in your life to help you become freed from this vicious cycle of overwhelming emotions, guilt and exhaustion at having to keep it all quiet. 

If you feel ready to talk, there is lots of support out there:

Self-Harm UK www.selfharm.co.uk

Calm Harm (free app): www.calmharm.co.uk

Samaritans: www.samaritans.org

For more from Chloe, click here to read her support resources.

Image of the author, Chloe Foster

Chloe Foster has a background in working in mental health and youth work. Today she runs Sussex Rainbow Counselling where she specialises in counselling LGBTQ clients online.

Chloe holds a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapeutic humanistic counselling from The University of Brighton. She is also an approved accredited registrant member of the National Counselling Society, and an accredited gender, sexuality and relationship diversities therapist with Pink Therapy.
Website: www.sussexrainbowcounselling.com

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