This is an excellent post which I think a lot of people should read

Infinite Sadness... or hope?

WARNING: This post addresses a disturbing issue and should
be read with caution.



“My head was full of wild ambitious urges to hurt myself. I tasted the ambrosia
of maddened impulse. I wanted my interior pain out in my body somehow.
I wanted this vague pain to be specific. That’s how I explain it.”

–Charles Baxter, The Feast of Love

While I’m talking about stigma, what about self harm?  Maybe you call it self-injury, self-mutilation, or maybe you don’t even dare to give it a name.  Whatever name you give it, there is huge stigma attached to it, which simply makes it harder to talk about so harder to help people address.

A news report in New Zealand last week said that up to half of all teenagers will harm themselves deliberately and the researchers claiming this are starting to ask why.  It made me think, because while I…

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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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This article comes from the Mental Health Writer’s Guild and demonstrates that we are by no means alone in our battle with this.

Mental Health Writers' Guild

My own personal battle with self-harming is no secret and something I have openly discussed here, on my personal blog, and also on ‘Reson8 Freedom‘ (a fairly new blog dedicated to this specific subject) and to helping others who battle with this.

Additionally through following the blogs of Guild Members I am also aware that several other members have or do battle  with this issue and so I thought I would share this article with you all.

NHS Choices – The UK’s National Health Service website – published an article stating that…

“Children bullied during their early years are up to three times more likely to self harm than their classmates,”1

This is it seems taken from a BBC News Report which is…

based on a study that assessed whether children were bullied at several points during childhood, as well as whether they had self-harmed in…

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Tag I’m it Too

Lulu over at As the Pendulum Swings just posted an item entitled ‘Tag I’m It!’ which is all part of the tagging game currently going around.  Wisely (IMHO) Lulu didn’t tag anyone but since the questions (just like Lulu’s answers) really  interested me I thought I would play along too.

And, seeing as I have already posted a couple of posts on my Voices of Glass blog and taking into consideration that some of my answers are very relevant to the subject of this blog, I thought I would answer them here.

So here are the same questions and but with my answers…

1. If you could go back and tell your younger self something. What age would you go back to and what would you say?

I have to say that I am feeling somewhat emotional right about now.  The truth is that I have already answered this in as much as some time ago now – back in November – I, (following the example Stephen Fry had previously set) wrote a letter to my younger self.

The letter was to a ten-year old me.  I chose that age because it was before somethings happened that should never have happened.  Hoping that by doing so I would help others understand me and also encourage others in their healing process, I published this letter on my Voices of Glass blog and letter that can be found here.

Re-reading it made me a little emotional but I do think it was a good thing to do and I do think this is a good question.

2. Favorite food.

Oh I have many favourite foods.  Melted cheese on a plate being eaten with a fork along with some bread and real butter being one of them and Indian Curries being another.

3. When did you start your blog? Why? And has the purpose changed as time has?

I think I started this blog as recently as the beginning of February.  Having been open about my mental health and indeed having sometimes mentioned my history with self-harming on my main blog, I thought I would start this blog which is specifically targeted at the subject of self-harming.

As for the purpose changing, not it is still too young but I am not sure it ever will change.  But I do hope that the content will develop further.

4. What do you think your best character trait is?

Oh Lord, I am so not good at this kind of thing.  You may have noticed I have a real problem with looking for positives in myself.  But I would hope that I am right in saying my best character trait is how loving I am.  Which confuses me even in my saying it.

5. What do you think is your worst character trait?

Indecisiveness. not wait not that, or perhaps it is.  Could it be?  No wait its…  LOL sorry I couldn’t resist.  Ok I will be serious.  Being over critical of and too negative about myself.

6. What is the last thing you read?

The continuous answer to that is my Bible since I am always reading that.  But in terms of books it would be a book called, ‘The trouble with Alex’ by Melanie Allen.  I am still reading it.

7. Hero?

I also don’t have heroes.  Very few people actually impress me enough to even come close to hero status in this world.  I respect and admire certain character traits, achievements, attitudes etc., but have never really found anyone who has enough of any of them to rank as a hero.  Sorry.

8. How much time do you spend on the internet in an average day?

Far too many.  Possibly between 8 and 12 hours or more a day.  But to qualify that, I do design websites, plus I write several blogs and I also use the internet to keep in contact with my family.  A lot of the time when I am ‘on the internet’ I am chatting with family whilst working or writing a book or something.

9. If you had to chose only one social issue to fight for what would it be?

Intolerance.  I just can’t tolerate intolerance.  (That was meant to be a joke)  But yes intolerance or indifference would be the one I would choose as it speaks into so many of the other issues.  Additionally it speaks so much into how we see and treat ourselves sometimes.

10. If you could live anywhere, where and why?

With my adopted family in Pennsylvania.  I have dreamt of that for so very long now.

11. If you could chose to have the power to read people’s minds/know their thoughts, would you choose to? It’s not something you could turn on or off, you have it or don’t. Why?

Not in a million years would I want to be telepathic!  I have enough trouble dealing with all the thoughts and voices in my own head without hearing everyone elses.  Additionally, given my paranoia and the deep nagging belief that people don’t really like me, I would simply hate to know that my fears are justified on that score.

Likewise I find very few people understand me and to be constantly reminded of that fact by actually knowing their thoughts would be horrendous.

Versatile Blogger Award – The Versatile Blogger Award – A double blessing

This morning I woke up to the news that this blog had been awarded a ‘Versatile Blogger Award’ by Andromache over at ‘if i die before i sleep’ and ‘The Versatile Blogger Award’ by Carla over at ‘Seasons Change, and Change.’

I cannot even begin to tell you how blessed I am that this blog should have been nominated for this/these awards. Although I do have to confess to being really confused and thrown off by the similarity in their names and yet the difference in their accompanying pictures.  I appreciate them both so much but am not sure how to respond to them.

Both of these awards require that I, on receipt of them, tell you seven things about myself which you might not know and that I nominate 15 other blogs which I follow.

The only problem is that I consider myself to be particularly boring and really struggle to find 7 different things about myself which you might not know.  Additionally once I have told you 7 things which you might not know about me for the one award, I can’t really use the same 7 for the next award as you already know them what with my having just shared them lol and thus they wouldn’t qualify as things ‘you might not know’.

In terms of the 15 blogs which I follow and which each award requires, I can simply combine the same list for the two awards.  So there is at least less difficulty there.  But is that only going to spread more confusion?

“Aggggh does not compute! Does not compute!”  LOL

OK here goes  let’s see if this works…

Nominations for BOTH awards….

 

  1. 25Pillsaday/Fibromy Awesome
  2. An Imperfect Christian’s Blog
  3. As The Pendulum Swings
  4. bi[polar] curious
  5. flibbertigibbetsanonymous
  6. I Was Just Thinking
  7. if i die before i sleep
  8. Infinite Sadness…or what?
  9. James Claims
  10. livingwithablackdog
  11. Manic Muses
  12. Mathematically Confused
  13. Seasons Change, and Change
  14. The Birds and Bees and Me
  15. The Sandwich lady

Some of the above blogs will already have received at least one of these awards but possibly not the other.

And so now for the 7 different things for each award.

Um… OK the first 7 things which you may not know about me – for the ‘Versatile Blogger Award’…

  1. My father gave me my first smoke of a cigarette when I was about 5.
  2. I started smoking when I was 9 years old
  3. I gave up the cigarettes and went over to smoking a pipe about a year ago now and I have not smoked a single cigarette since doing so.  Yeah I know smoking a pipe is still smoking but it is a lot healthier.
  4. I have a cousin who is a famous author – mainly writing psychological thrillers.
  5. That same cousin is also a Baroness but don’t be impressed as we have never met and I doubt she even knows I exist lol
  6. In any given week I spend less than 7 hours in total in the actual company of other human beings.  Something which bothers me not because I get lonely (as I seldom do) but because I know that is not how it is meant to be.
  7. There are a number of emotions or states of mind which I do not experience.  Boredom is one of them.

Ok the second 7 things which you may not know about me – for the ‘The Versatile Blogger Award’…

  1. I used to (when I was a child) play the Trumpet and the Cornet and used to be in two bands and have qualifications to prove it but now can’t remember a single thing about it or how to play either.
  2. I have a gold medal with distinction for Ballroom Dancing – I got it as a kid and again can’t remember a thing about it.
  3. I am very passionate about music and love to sing.
  4. I love to read and write poetry.
  5. I have a morbid and horrendous fear of dentists.
  6. Even as a child I didn’t really know how emotionally to be a child so I got through it by mimicking the actions and behaviour patterns and responses of other children.
  7. Outside of one or possibly two extreme circumstances/breakdowns which I have experienced, I find it impossible to cry for myself or in respect of any sadness or suffering that I experience but I cry very easily in respect of the suffering and sadness of others.

So there you go.  Man that was tough!  A further 7 things you might not have known about me.

Hopefully I have complied with  the requirements of both of those awards and I will today notify those folk whom I have nominated.

Again I am so very grateful and blessed that this blog should have received these nominations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tell Me About Yourself Award! – So blessed.

Well today Carla from Seasons Change, and change very kindly nominated this blog for a ‘‘Tell Me About Yourself’ Award.

I have to tell you that I am so very blessed that this blog has been nominated, not least of all because of this blog’s relative infancy.

According to the rules of the award I, in accepting the award, have to now…

Thank the person that nominated me first and link the blog to that person before you start.  (Which I have done above)

Then I have to tell the world 7 things  we might find interesting about myself.

Then I have to add my 7 nominees.

~oOo~

So having already complied with the first, here then is my adherence to the second and third parts of those rules…

7 things you might find interesting

  1. I have numerous favorite films but possible the top one among them has for a very long time now been a film called ‘Kes’.
  2. Many moons back I was homeless living on the streets and it was one of the happiest times of my life.
  3. I am a recovering drug addict.  My mental health issues, for the record, pre-date my drug usage and I have been clean now for some 27 years.
  4. As a child I both self-harmed and contemplated (and even attempted) suicide although most of this (apart from one or possibly two suicide attempts) I managed to keep hidden from my siblings and parents.
  5. I cannot recall a single time in my life when I have doubted the existence of God.
  6. Despite having been invited to study to become an ordained church minster on three separate occasions in my life I failed, for numerous reasons, to respond to those calls.
  7. One of the saddest things that I have experienced so far as a Christian is not my having to witness how people often live their lives different to the churches’ interpretation of God’s word but actually my having to witness how badly we as a church respond to that.

~oOo~

7 Nominees  (Alphabetically)

[Due to the nature of this blog it is perhaps worth my saying that my nomination of the following blogs is not intended in any way to imply that those blogs or bloggers have any link whatsoever with self-harming.  They are simply blogs which I truly enjoy reading and following and are nominated for that reason alone.]

Fibromy-Awesome

Flibbertigibbetsanonymous

If I Die Before I Sleep

Infinite Sadness or what?

In This Room

Jumbled Minds

Running Naked With Scissors

 

Ok so there you have it.  As I said I am extremely blessed by this award and I am honoured to be able to nominate the above blogs  also.

Claiming and Keeping the Now.

There are without any doubt multiple reasons behind the decision to self-harm at any given moment.  Sometimes it is in response to some circumstance or stressor that has happened there and then and sometimes it is because our mind has wandered back to a painful or distressing or unhealthy memory.  Other times it can be less of a wandering and more of an instant jump back to a painful or distressing time.

For me personally there are a few ‘triggers’ that seem to instantly send me back to that memory and thus to a dangerous or unhealthy place.

When this instant situation happens dealing with it is much harder although not impossible and I intend to share about this later.  But for the purpose of this piece I thought it might be helpful if I shared what I do when my mind starts to wander towards dangerous or unhealthy memories or thoughts.  Times when I desperately need to claim and keep hold of the now and not to go back ‘there’.

Distraction.

Distraction from the memories back onto current things can be a very useful tool.  Whether this is done by calling and friend or by interacting with someone else or through focussing the mind on current tasks is entirely up to the person concerned and their personal circumstances at that time.  Factors such as;  the time of day, how many friends – especially understanding ones – you have, how much telephone credit you have left, where you are when the need arises, all can affect the choice you make in terms of what method you choose.

Very often I will play a game that I find absorbing. Sudoku or something that requires me to focus and concentrate.  Or I will do chores such as cleaning or tidying or something like that.  Responding to emails or writing a letter to a friend or family can also distract me from those past thoughts and memories.  Although I do of course have to be careful not to choose folk with whom there is some association with those memories.

Grounding.

Grounding is another technique that I use.  I make mental and verbal inventories of my surroundings which thus bring my attention to the now and not the past.  Imaging that I am on the phone to a friend and describing what is around me or pretending that they have never seen my home or room and have asked me what it looks like and thus I am describing it in detail can be a real help.

Sometimes I play a game I call Increasing Vowels.  In this game I go through my house finding different items beginning with each of the vowels.  I start by finding one item beginning with an ‘A’ then an ‘E’ then an ‘I’ and so forth and then try to find two and then three and so forth until I am feeling much stronger.

There is infact a whole number of different things that can be done to help us ‘claim and keep the now’ and some of them can be found on the ‘Coping Techniques‘ page.

Some may work for you and some may not.  Likewise some may work in some situations and others not work.  What is important, I feel, it’s that we firstly recognize what is happening when we do ‘wander’ or we do ‘trigger’ and that we have in our tool bag a number of tried and tested methods for safely and healthily dealing with these situations.

There is, I believe, a truth here that we need to hold onto in these situations.  Self-harm, whilst being a coping technique, is a very poor one, offering short-term relief at best and nearly always adding more problems than it relieves.

Going back to the ‘place’ which causes this type of response in us, is not a good thing unless done in therapy and a safe controlled environment where the related issues are being addressed.  So staying away from that place at all other times – claiming and keeping the now, if you will, can be a very real advantage and an essential coping tool.

 

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Mental Health Writers’ Guild Membership

I am very pleased to include this site as a member of the newly formed Mental Health Writers’ Guild.

A new venture deigned to encourage and support writers who have as a main theme of their writing issues and challenges relating to Mental Health and Mental Well-being.

 

 

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Dispelling The Myths.

There are without doubt numerous myths or incorrect beliefs out there concerning self-harm in its various forms and those who suffer from it.

Personally I think this is quite natural given the covert and often secretive nature of self-harm and the fact that mental-illness (for want of a better phrase) has always had a certain amount of misunderstanding, lack of understanding and also stigma attached to it.

This is of course a sad state of affairs but what we also, in my opinion, need to be mindful of is the fact that very often some of those who suffer from self-harm can themselves be subject to these misconceptions and this can have a very direct and unhealthy impact on; how they view themselves, their actions and indeed their potential to obtain the very help they need.

So no matter what the reason is for these myths, misunderstandings, or misconceptions dispelling them and providing accurate and correct information is essential if we are to fully address this issue.

So here are some of the most common myths and misunderstandings along with the related facts/truths…

-o-

Myth:  People who self-harm are just seeking attention!

Fact:  Generally speaking people who self-harm  do so in secret.  For someone who suffers from self-harm, expressing or sharing this fact can be extremely difficult.  Often because of the fear and/or shame and very often as a result of this very same misunderstanding/myth.  Understanding this is a very real step in dealing with it correctly.

-o-

Myth:  People who self-harm do so to manipulate others!

Fact:     The truth is that whilst it is possible that this may sometimes (albeit very seldom) be the case, the plain simple fact is that this is the exception to the rule so to speak. Let’s remember that generally speaking people who self-harm do so in secret.  However, even in a situation where this is the case, the more healthy approach is not to focus on the method chosen as much as to consider why that person is feeling the need to do this.

-o-

Myth:  People who self-harm aren’t really that serious or their problems that serious if they don’t hurt themselves really badly.

Fact:  As strange as it may sound, Self-Harm is not about harming yourself but about coping.  Additionally it would very wrong to believe that people who self-harm want to do so.  Very often it is seen as the only way to cope and let us not forget that it is fundamentally counter-intuitive and thus the need to inflict harm to oneself in order to cope is very often accompanied with the intuition not to harm oneself.  Therefore the severity of the harm cannot be seen as an indication  of the severity of the difficulties faced.

-0-

Myth:  Self-Harm is something that only teenagers do and mostly just teenage girls.

Fact:  Self-Harm covers many different forms and is neither gender nor age specific.

-0-

Myth:  Self-Harm is all about cutting isn’t it.

Fact:  No not at all.  Cutting is in fact just one form of self-harm and whilst it may be the one that the media seems to focus on there are in fact many other forms of it.

-o-

Myth:  People who Self-Harm just want to commit suicide but can’t bring themselves to do it.

Fact:  To say that no-one who suffers from self-harm ever wants to commit suicide or to die would be just as inaccurate as to say that everyone who suffers from self-harm does want to commit suicide or to die.  The truth is that for many self-harm is a coping mechanism used in order to survive.

-o-

Myth:  I lived with or knew someone who used to self-harm so I know all about self-harm.

Fact:  That is the same as saying I knew a brain surgeon so I know all about brain surgery.  The fact is that you don’t.  Whilst it is true that you may have witnessed part of it or even experienced some of the pain, concerns and frustrations experienced by someone caring for a person who self-harms, it does not make you an expert and there is in fact a whole myriad of reasons why folk self-harm just as there are multiple ways in which folk do so.

-o-

Myth:  Once you start to Self-Harm it will be with you for life.

Fact:  Whilst there are many underlying reasons for someone choosing to Self-Harm, in many ways it is often chosen, whether consciously or sub-consciously, as a way of coping.  It is without doubt not the best way of coping and indeed other better ways of coping and indeed addressing the issues causing this response are available.   Freedom from this is therefore possible.

-o-

Myth:  Self-Harm is not a recognized condition or disorder.

Fact:  Self-Harm is indeed recognized nowadays and there is a growing amount of professional help out there.

-o-

 

 

 

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An Invitation

Allow me to share something with you, if you will…

“I sat feeling horrible,  alone, like some freak, dishonest and damaged even.  And what is worse is that I couldn’t tell anyone.

All around me people would be carrying on with their normal activities, laughing, chatting, sharing, and yet there was I sat hiding the very thing I needed to communicate but somehow couldn’t.

Every now and then something would happen, I would brush up against something or a friend’s child would climb up on me for a hug and I would wince. 

“Are you Ok?”  The more observant onlooker would ask me.

“Yeah, I am fine.”  I would answer. “Just in a little pain today.”

In truth I hadn’t lied.  I was in a little pain. 

The fact that they assumed it was because of my generally poor health and not because I had harmed myself the night before was not down to me, was it? 

Of course their assuming this was natural since they were aware that I have for a long time now experienced poor health and since I have never once shared with them (or anyone else for that matter) the fact that I self-harm.

So I sat feeling horrible, alone, like some freak, dishonest and damaged even.  And what is worse is that I couldn’t tell anyone.”

-oOo-

Do you recognize that kind of experience?  Does it or those thoughts and feelings contained within it resonate with a ring of familiarity for you?

Well you are not alone and certainly whilst that is actually an account that I wrote about an experience I personally had it could in fact have been written by so many people who self-harm and who feel they have nowhere to turn.

Check out the opening and closing statements of that little story..

“I sat feeling horrible, alone, like some freak, dishonest and damaged even.  And what is worse is that I couldn’t tell anyone.”

Do you recognize the mixture of correct and incorrect statements there?

“I sat feeling horrible, like some freak, dishonest and damaged even.”

That is a perfectly natural response to your situation but the fact that you feel that way doesn’t make it true!

Due to the secretive nature of this condition, statistics are hard to come by but it has been reported that about 3 million people in America alone exhibit some type of self-abusive behavior.  So you are neither ‘alone’ nor are you a ‘freak’.

“And what is worse is that I couldn’t tell anyone.”

Again, this is a very natural and common response.  Even though there is good, professional and confidential help available out there, sufferers of self-harm are very often reluctant to access it.

However, the fact is that accessing that help is usually a very safe and confidential option and certainly one that I would personally recommend. But even if you don’t feel able to seek professional help I would encourage you to seek help from a friend whom you trust and respect.  Sharing your experiences and enlisting the help of someone you trust and respect really can be such an important step on the road to conquering this.

Which brings me to my invitation…

This blog/site, ‘Reson8 Freedom’, was started specifically in order to provide information, understanding and support for folk impacted by self-harm in its various forms.

So why not spend some time checking it out as it grows and why not share your experiences, challenges and victories?

Obviously we need to be careful how much specific detail is shared and also how it is shared so as not to cause distress to either the person sharing or to anyone reading it, but you are very welcome to participate.

It is my sincere hope that what is shared on this blog/site will not only resonate familiarity for others who suffer from self-harm but will also show that, as in my own situation, it really can be conquered and that by sharing our experiences we will not only resonate familiarity but also Resonate Freedom.

Kind Regards,

Kevin.

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