I self harm. I’ve tried many alternatives but I keep turning back to it. I also have this habit (I’m not sure if there is a certain name to it) but I pick my skin when I’m nervous? I will itch at it and pick until I’m at the point where it’s stinging and bleeding yet I still do it. I don’t want to tell anybody about these habits but I also want help..?
Thank you for your email and for being able to tell me that you would like help with addressing your self- harm and habits.
Self-harm, which is also known as self-injury, can be many things that people do to themselves in a deliberate and often hidden way such as the picking of your skin you describe. Sometimes people think they are the only ones doing it but research shows that it is very common. In the UK, at least one in every 15 young people has experience of self-injury. That is two young people in every classroom!
People self-injure for all sorts of reasons, but often it is because feelings like anger, sadness and fear have got too painful to deal with. Some people self-harm because of pressure and stress from things like relationships, family problems, school, sexual worries or as a way of dealing with horrible situations like abuse or the death of someone close. Each person’s reason will differ and some reasons can be quite complex.
Self-harm is often used to manage negative feelings and emotions, and is used by some people as a coping strategy to help them manage how they feel. However, there are more appropriate and less damaging coping strategies that you could use. I see that you have tried alternatives but that you return to self -harming which suggests that you may need some additional help with this.
Self -harm can make people feel distressed and alone and can be scary, also for the majority of cases self-harm is a very private act and individuals can go to great lengths to hide sores and bruises. It is not uncommon for self- harm to be followed by feelings of guilt and shame which can often perpetuate a vicious cycle. I see that you don’t want to tell anybody about your habits but at the same time you do want help.You may not know why you self-injure but it seems that you have tried to find alternative ways of dealing with how you are feeling but that you go back to self-harm and picking your skin. I know it’s difficult to speak about, but it sounds like it would benefit you to talk to someone about your thoughts and feelings to explore why you feel this way. Try to speak with someone you trust: sometimes just telling someone about how you are feeling can help. They may also be able to offer suggestions such as alternative coping strategies. Have you a friend, family member, teacher, college lecturer you feel you could talk to?
You could approach your GP to start with, who will listen to you and not judge you and they may help you consider other alternatives as coping strategies. If you get referred on for further treatment you can then talk to a trained professional who will be able to help you talk through thoughts and feelings and suggest ways in which you can manage these in a way that doesn’t hurt or frighten you.
If a GP isn’t available and you feel you need help straight away, contact the Samaritans who run a service with confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair. The phone number for the Isle of Man branch is 663399 and the website is samaritans.org.
There are also specialist website where you can go to for more information and guidance. They also offer support and information on alternative coping strategies as well as distraction techniques which you may find work for you: selfharm.co.uk and thesite.org