Self-Harm Awareness Day – March 1st

Today is self-harm awareness day. Obviously it is something I take seriously, especially after celebrating four years of being self-harm free back in December

On awareness days usually it is appropriate to wear a certain color (orange, in this case), or do something that shows support. I think that is all good and well and I love the people who do it. However, my one encouragement is this: Don’t let self-harm awareness be limited to one single day. Use the day to boost the signal but continue to be aware of it throughout the year. 

Specifically, be aware of it in your relationships. Sometimes you may know right off the bat that someone is hurting themselves and other times you may never know until they decide to share it with you. The most important thing is to love those around you unconditionally. If they mention something about self-harm, don’t just brush it off. Don’t make fun of it. Don’t joke about cutting or suicide. Take it seriously, because it is a serious issue. 

Above all else, be there for people. Be there for your friends. Call them, text them, e-mail them, take them out to coffee. Even if they aren’t a self-harmer, these things never hurt. Be active in how you love people. I think it is the first step to really tackling this self-harm issue. 

Self-harm is usually an isolated act committed by people who are upset, lonely, depressed, anxious, or experiencing any series of unpleasant emotions or circumstances. It therefore makes the most sense to combat these conditions with lovecompanionship, and real conversations

Go and do and let blessings rain down.

If you’re looking for an organization to support today (or any day) please check out To Write Love on Her Arms.

Four Years of Freedom

I don’t really like to talk about self harm. Strangely enough I’d prefer to discuss pornography and the Church than talk about self harm.

Today, though, I get to celebrate four years of no self harm. So I’m going to talk about it. 

I have a difficult time being proud of that because there is always a little voice in the back of my head that tells me it is a dumb accomplishment. Every year I feel as if I’m able to conquer that voice just a little more and this year I’m shoving this blog post in its face because four years of no self harm is something to celebrate.

So if you haven’t figured it out yet, I used to be a self harmer. I had some dysfunctional family dynamics growing up that led to some unhealthy coping mechanisms. One was porn, which I’ve blogged about before, but another was self harm. Out of a place of utter desperation and frustration I used to cut myself. It is hard to even type that because it seems so irrational. Even as a former self harmer I have a difficult time explaining exactly why it helped. All I know is that it did. It was not healthy, but it got me through moments where I felt like I had no other choice.

There are a lot of stigmas surrounding self harm. The biggest one is that people self harm for attention. I hear a lot of people use this one when they see teenagers hurt themselves and it breaks my heart. Even if there is some truth, maybe it is time to give that hurting teenager positive attention, because if they need attention so badly that they resort to harming themselves then odds are there is a deeper issue.

Don’t just dismiss the deeper issue because someone is doing something for attention.

Another one is less of a stigma, more of an assumption. When I talk about self harm most people think it refers to cutting. In my case that is true. It is not, however, true in all cases. There are many other ways people hurt themselves and unfortunately a lot of them are easy to hide. Some people bruise themselves (“Oh, I just ran into a door”), others burn themselves (“Yeah, hurt myself baking again”), others pull out their hair, bang their heads into things, claw and pick at their skin, and a million other things that constitute self harm. Self harm is more than cutting.

So on the fourth anniversary of my sobriety, I wanted to bring attention to something that is very much a problem. I also wanted to share because I know there are strugglers out there who need to hear that they are not alone and that there is hope. I won’t lie and say that everything is perfect. There are moments where I feel like I am spiraling out of control and all I want to do is track down a knife and cope in my old unhealthy ways…but those days are few and far between, and thanks to the people in my life I don’t have to go through them alone anymore.

My biggest advice to anyone struggling, whether it is with self harm, pornography, or anything else that hinders your ability to find joy in life and brings you shame, is to reach out. Tell someone. E-mail a pastor anonymously, post it on an anonymous board, tell it to your dog, to your hamster, or if you’re brave tell it to a friend, an adult, a parent. The first step to learning how to cope in a healthy manner is this: Learn to cope with people, not alone.

As always, my e-mail inbox is open to anyone who needs to share:

Above all else I give thanks to God for being with me every step of the way. Here is to year five.