Its no secret that I've suffered with self harm, I've spoken about it before but if I'm honest, out of all the mental health problems I have had, talking about this one, is the hardest. It might be because its still very taboo and not many people understand it. Or it might be the shame and stigma that comes with hurting yourself, but today I wanted to talk about it, but from a different angle.
I can spot SH a mile away. Due to training I've had when I worked in a children's home and going through it myself, the signs for me are usually easy to see. I am however aware that for most people, thats not the case so I wanted to give some insight into 'The Signs Of Self Harm'.
1. Keeping Covered Up: I spotted a kid in my care wearing a long sleeved top, when usually (I'm talking everyday) he wore short sleeved tops, so I took him to the side and asked him if he had self harmed and he had. My gut instinct told me so and his change in clothing did to. Self harmers may try to hide what they've done by covering up - even when its warm.
2. Unexplained marks, cuts, bruises, burns & hair loss: If you didn't know, self harm isn't just cutting of the wrists, it comes in lots of different forms. Using lighters to burn yourself, pulling out your hair and eyelashes, beating yourself with an object to name a few.
3. Low Mood & Little Self Esteem: These two signs can mean a heap of things, but they manifest around self injurious behaviour in particular. Self harmers usually struggle to like who they are, hence why they take out their frustration, feelings and pain on themselves. A multitude of emotions occur when someone is considering SH or has recently SH'd. Its a confusing and a very lonely place to be.
4. Overeating and/or Under-eating: A change in eating habits and weight is a big sign that something is wrong. It usually indicates depression or some other form of mental illness (obv it can also mean physical illness too). Sometimes feeling out of control can lead to under-eating, and due to the shame and guilt, self harm may occur. It can also work the other way round, with over-eating and weight gain.
5. Substance Misuse: Self harm falls under self injurious behaviour which can be displayed in lots of different ways, including the not so obvious ways. Alcohol and drugs are two that can often be tied up in the web of behaviours that surround self harm. Lack of self esteem, escapism & feeling lonely can lead someone to think there is solitude in a bottle of vodka or some cocaine.
(common in people with autism but can be displayed in mental health)
6. Self Destructive & Dangerous Behaviour: From having unsafe sex to joy riding. If the intent to cause harm is there, it is classed as self harm. However, being self destructive may be a sign of self harm in the more well know ways such as cutting or burning. Like I said previously in this post, there are so many factors to self harm and why someone is doing it, or thinking of doing it. It is a release a lot of the time and it can be to feel a pain thats different to the emotional pain they're experiencing.
I hope this post has helped raise awareness and to open your eyes to how complex self harm can be. If you'd like a follow up post on why someone self harms etc, then please let me know.
Obviously what I have spoken about doesn't always mean someone is self harming or thinking of self harming. Some of these signs can sometimes just be hormones, growing up and pushing the boundaries, but I feel its important to be aware.
Please note that SH comes in many different forms and self harmers will often hide their scars and marks. Im not a professional, so for more information please click the relevant links below.
It Gets Better...