Category Archives: Self-Harm Awareness

Hope – even in the darkness.

im-sorryI haven’t written a post on here for some time now.  It was a realization which came to me sometime during the wee small hours of the night last night/this morning.

The truth is that it appears that I had, without realizing it, been going through an episode where my mental health was not as good as I thought it was.

I don’t know about you, but that happens to me sometimes.  In my head, and as far as I am aware, I think that I am managing much better than I really am.

And then something happens and I realize that this has just not been the case.

Now depending on what has happened during that period, or more specifically, how much damage has been done during that period.  I either do my best to fix any damage and move on or – where the damage has been great – it sends me into another deeper episode of poor mental health.

And that is what happened this last time.

But thankfully I think I am at least coming out of that episode now and whilst I know my mind still isn’t ‘right’ so to speak.  And whilst writing posts like this is taking me way longer than it would normally take (and requiring far more corrections that normal), I am at least able to post again.

So I wanted to apologize for not having posted here for such a long time.

And I also wanted to share some good news and some hope for those who like me struggle with self-harming.

Even though I had obviously been going through a period of bad mental health and even though – on realizing this and that some damage had been done as a result of this – I am so grateful that in all this I haven’t, as far as I can tell, self-harmed.

That is not to say that the need or the urges haven’t been there.  In fact it was during and fighting the most recent compulsion to self-harm which made me realize that despite knowing that I had had them, I hadn’t responded to them how I normally would.

I am so encouraged by this!  And I wanted to share it with you as a way of sharing that there is hope.

Thankfully, I have had a lot of support lately – even and especially whist going through this latest bad episodes and I am sure that this has helped.

I think that this whole realization and indeed the thought processes surrounding my self-harming came as a result of my watching a movie yesterday and a song which was featured in that movie.  It is not a song (or artist) which I was aware off, until now, and it really spoke to me when I heard it.

So I thought I would look for it on YouTube and share it with you.  The song is “Breathe Me” and the artist is called ‘Sia’.  I hope it speaks to you as it spoke to me.

🙂

 

 

 

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“Scars Are Meant To Heal”

To-Save-a-Life-christian-movies-paddedScars are meant to heal“.  I chose the phrase as the title of this article as it is a quote which stood out for me from the film ‘To Save A Life.’

I have been slowly building my library of Christian and faith-based movies of late and one of my kids (Devon) told me about the ‘To Save A Life’ movie.  “Dad, you simply have to get it.  It is one of my favorite Christian movies.”  He told me.

But he also added the warning, “But be real careful when you watch it Dad, because it deals with, and even has a scene with, some self-harming.”

Of course, he knows that I have had a history of self-harming in the past and that I – like many others – still struggle with it when my mind gets bad.

And the truth is that one of the aspects of self-harming (and one which is extremely dangerous and unhealthy) is that it is often done in secret and all too often kept hidden.  Fears of being considered a freak, or judged or ridiculed, or rejected, accompany this and all too often compel us away from the very help that we need.

So, as a Christian Dad, I decided that I would not allow myself to hide this – or my mental health issues – any more.  Either from my children (who were old enough to understand what was going on) or from anyone else who should know.

And I have to tell you that it (deciding to no longer hide it and to actually get help with it) was probably one of the best decisions I have made.

Do I still struggle with self-harming?  Yes, the truth is that I do.  [And I say that in full knowledge that articles from this blog automatically go on my Facebook page and that others who know me (including folk from church) might read this.]  But I truly believe that there is indeed hope and that sharing information about this particular movie – and it’s content and message – is so very important.

Actually. the film deals with far more than self-harming.  It deals with teenage suicide as well.  And it looks at feelings of; isolation, loneliness, hopelessness, alienation and desperation, as well as other topics and it also challenges the church’s approach to these issues.

In truth I am no teenager, and in truth it has been many years since I was one.  But those feelings – feelings of; isolation, loneliness, hopelessness, alienation and desperation are far from being exclusive to teenagers and in truth suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideation are no respecter of age or color or status or creed.

I watched the ‘To Save A Life’ movie this morning and I would (the warning below having been given) recommend it to any one – especially parents, youth workers and church leaders as a movie well worth watching. And I am very grateful to Devon for recommending it to me.

TW SIGN

– TRIGGER WARNING –

BUT if you struggle with suicidal thoughts or self-harming I would not recommend that you watched it alone.  The movie is both very real and very hard-hitting!

Please, if you struggle with either of these, only watch this film with others who you trust.

Scars are meant to heal.”  I absolutely believe this.  And I absolutely believe that that healing is available if only we know where to look for it and if only we can reach out and grasp it!

I know that mine, by the grace of God and the love of those who truly care for me, are healing.  And it is my hope and my prayer that you too – if you are struggling with these issues can reach out to someone and find that help and that healing.

There truly is hope and you truly do matter!

God bless you.

Kevin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Does the end justify the means?

It is an interesting question isn’t it?  One which has been around since ages past and one which will no doubt be around for ages to come.

It is also a question which I think those of us who self-harm should consider at some time or another in respect of our self-harming behaviour.

Self-harming is something which is entering more and more into our public awareness and in the main doing so in a positive way.  This is without doubt a good thing.  Too long has it gone unrecognized and misunderstood and in truth far too long has it and those who suffer from it been treated with stigma and condemnation.

But we need to be careful don’t we?

There is in life and human nature – especially corporate or collective human nature – , or so it seems to me, something I like to call the pendulum effect.

The pendulum effect is basically an over-compensation in response to a given situation and it is, I would suggest visible, in so much of our history.  Many of our laws have evolved through a process of over-compensation before settling to a more rational and appropriate state.

Recently I and at least one other follower (that I know of) of this blog have been following a piece on self-harming where it would appear that the suggestion is that we view self-harming as an ‘authentic’, ‘spiritual awakening’ or a ‘life journey’ or a ‘rite of passage’ .  This has all the potential markings of such a pendulum effect

I cannot begin to describe how deeply concerned and disturbed I am over this approach and since that approach is now ‘out there’ in the ‘blogosphere’ I think it is important that an opposing and alternative view be ‘out there’ also.

So let’s look at each of those in turn…

‘Spiritual awakening’.

Let me nail my colours to the mast here.  I am a Christian and as such I fully believe that there is a spiritual aspect to all things.  Likewise I freely and fully accept that in some cases the cause behind a person feeling the need to resort to self-harm may at it’s core be spiritually based.  However, is this an ‘awakening’?  Well not in my understanding it isn’t!

Could it be a call or even a cause to spiritual awakening?  Absolutely, but the truth is that I cannot view it as a spiritual awakening unless the spiritual aspect of it is actually explored.

‘Life-journey’

The word ‘journey’ suggests a process. Its very meaning is a ‘defined course’.  But I think we need to be very careful here.  If I were to write an auto-biography of my life (to map my journey thus far) it is certainly true that my struggle with self-harming would feature as a part of that journey.  BUT is a part of that journey that I should have taken and is it part of that journey that I HAD to take.

The answer to both of those questions is of course NO and actually the fact remains that in terms of my journey (and I would suggest the journey of most people who have struggled with self-harm) it is a part which did more harm than good – but then the clue is pretty much in the term isn’t it?

Which leads me neatly to the next part…

‘Rite of passage’

The term rite of passage was I think originally used by Arnold Van Gennep – a French anthropologist and nowadays is used more commonly to signify ‘A ritual or ceremony signifying an event in a person’s life indicative of a transition from one stage to another, as from adolescence to adulthood’.

Ok so again I can see the tenuous link here BUT again I have major problems with this.  As we have already demonstrated yes this can feature as part of an episode or episodes in someone’s life but it is important that we see the ‘rite’ or ‘ritual’ part in the context of it being a series of actions or a type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone and not as something ‘glorious’ or ‘noble’ or even ‘acceptable’

Which I think brings me to the last part and possibly the key part of all this – that suggested ‘authenticity

‘Authenticity’

It is here that I want to be as clear as I can possibly be in all of this.  I truly struggle with this label – what is meant or implied by it?

Accurate?  Reliable? Right?  Factual?  Proper? Appropriate? Responsible?

Are we really suggesting that these apply to the act of self-harming?

Please do not get me wrong here. I am not disputing the authenticity of the feelings,  emotions, or thoughts which can result in a response of  self-harming I am simply disputing the ‘authenticity’ of the response itself.

I started this piece with the title and question, “Does the end justify the means?” and it is, in the opinion of this writer, a very pertinent and extremely important question for those of us who struggle with self-harm.

Whilst it is a very simplistic answer I would have to say that the end justifies the means ONLY where no better alternative means or end are available.

And there within lies the truth doesn’t it?  The fact is when it come to self-harming in the majority of cases a better alternative is available to us.

I struggle with self-harm.  I make no secret of that fact.

Thankfully, I have over time been able to find alternative coping mechanisms, redressed and righted the altered or wrong perceptions that have caused these responses in me or addressed and righted the situations and circumstances in my life which were also causing them.

I understand why I self-harmed and still sometimes still get the urge to self-harm BUT I do not justify, validate or authenticate that behaviour because to do so is both wrong and harmful in itself.

The truth is there are better alternative means and less harmful ways of dealing with things and the truth is that self-harming can have serious and long lasting effects which all too often lead to greater distress, discomfort or problems in life.

If that pendulum I spoke of earlier, in respect of self-harming swings from that place of condemnation, stigma, and ridicule to a place of understanding and appropriate response then I for one am all for it and afterall isn’t that the main purpose of this blog?

BUT the minute it swings too far the other way to a place where the self-harming behavior itself becomes acceptable then I think we are in a very dubious and dangerous area indeed.  Because then we are neither endorsing nor encouraging nor enabling the healing but instead we are endorsing, encouraging and enabling a wrong and harmful response.

If you personally struggle with self-harming or know of someone who struggles with it please know that there is help out there and please feel free to get in touch via the comment section below.

 

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Supporting Sufferers of Self-Harm and their Carers

It seems very appropriate, seeing as May in Mental Health Month in the USA that it should be now that I launch this graphic.

Self-Harm, Deliberate Self Harm, Intentional Self-Harm,  including such things as Self-Abuse, Self-Neglect, Self-Injury, – which ever label or terminology you prefer or are used to – is often done in secret and all too often goes undetected or undisclosed.

Because of this establishing accurate statistics is virtually impossible.  But that does not make it any less of a serious issue and in fact makes it even more serious in some ways.

So in view of this and mindful of it being Mental Health Month in the USA this blog and  other supporting blogs I am involved in are going to display the following graphic in an attempt of raising awareness and in the hope of removing some of the stigma and shame often associated with Self-Harm, Deliberate Self Harm, Intentional Self-Harm,  including such things as Self-Abuse, Self-Neglect, Self-Injury.

If you are a blogger who is concerned about the issue of self-harm I invite you to do the same…

Oh and one last thing I should perhaps mention or explain…

Because of the amount of misconceptions out there concerning self-harm I have really struggled over which graphic to use and have finally settled on this one for now.  The thought processes behind the design of this graphic are as follows…

Through the use of a ‘teddy bear’ instead of a ‘person’ I hope to remove or reduce any gender-specific associations.

Additionally, through the use of a ‘brown’ teddy bear as opposed to a pink or blue one we hope to also remove or reduce any gender-specific associations.

By choosing a teddy bear with a band-aid/plaster on it’s head we hope to illustrate injury or that the bear has been harmed.

By the band-aid/plaster being on it’s head and not arms or body we hope to stay clear of the incorrect assumption that self-harming is just cutting  etc.

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