Trigger warning: Self harm
“It’s not around the wrists, so it’s not that ‘dangerous’ self harm!”
“Of course that’s not self harm, you are not cutting!”
Although many people form an image of cutting around the wrists and arms when they think about self harm, scratching is what I do. At first, I thought that scratching is NOT self harm because it does not seem as dangerous or detrimental. But, I am writing this post to inform my dear readers that hurting oneself intentionally is self harm. No matter you tear out your hair, bang your head on the wall, burn yourself, pick your skin, etc, you are self harming. Different methods or reasons do not mean that you don’t need as much help, or that you are feeling any less distress. You are worth having the help you need.
This is my story of self-harm:
The first time I started scratching was this January, when I was having a stressful time during a weekly high school meet. I was anxious, and I HAD to leave the room, so I went to the girls’ locker room and scratched on the back of my hand. There was no specific reason that I could identify to explain my need to scratch, I just did it to feel numbness and then a little pain. Then, layers of skin come off, and I stop. No bleeding. And I felt better. It looked like an allergy reaction at first, because of the redness around the wound. I continued to scratch my back of the hands and my arms for 5 months. I thought I was seeking for attention and help. I was afraid people were going to ignore me, and see me as a jerk who only wanted to get their attention. I covered them up in front of my parents and told my friends that I fell down when I was doing a community run. I hated to lie to them, but I was afraid of being exposed of my weaknesses and flaws, afraid of being dismissed or discouraged. The truth is – I am suffering from deep emotional pain inside, and I need help.
Fortunately, My school counselor and I worked through methods to stop my scratching. We set time limits to challenge myself to not scratch for a week, and slowly extend the time to two weeks, then a month. We also worked on other coping mechanisms for anxiety, such as taking deep breathes, thinking of good reasons of not to scratch, using a rubberband around my wrist to feel pain instead of scratching… I am glad that I have improved overtime and scratched less, hopefully this improvement is not because that it’s summertime and I can’t hide my wounds easily.
* If you know anyone who is self harming, or if you are self harming yourself, please support those during their difficult times and go get help by grabbing the hands of those around you. There is hope, understanding, and support out there, but sometimes the path to find it is difficult! Self harm is NOT unstoppable! (Remember that hurting oneself on purpose IS self injury, not only cutting!)