Am I an embarrassment?

My experiences of SH only started when I was in my late 30s – my life took a dive and out of nowhere SH appeared. It’s never been a welcome visitor as such, but at times a necessary one. I know any self harmers reading this will understand that I cannot fully explain its usefulness, but at the same time, my desire for it to leave my life forever.

It sounds as if it has a life of its own and is not under my control and I do feel like that about SH. I don’t feel that it’s me that decides if I need its presence or if it just happens. All sounding very naïve, but truly I feel in a numbed state when SH pays a call. It’s a demon that lives on my shoulder and frequently has a chat to me into my ear – it’s difficult to keep it quiet and perhaps that’s why it’s so strong – I can’t shove it off my shoulder. There was a time when it had taken up permanent residence on my shoulder and had a tangle with my arms on a daily basis; now it’s less frequent visits are equally unpleasant, but fill a need.

I’ve tried long and hard to work out why I self harm and the only explanation I can come up with is this. The need it fills is the emotional frustration and pain going on inside my head. SH and its pain momentarily quiets those torments and gives me a break from the pain I cannot address. However, that pain addressed leads to other tangible issues arising in my day to day life. The side effects of SH behaviour.

There are hugely difficult side effects to deal with as a mother of two adult children and a resident husband. There are always questions, difficulty in understanding and hatred of what I am seen to be doing to myself. I often feel I’ve physically hurt my nearest and dearest when all I’m trying to do is survive.

It’s bad enough trying to understand it myself but trying to explain it to someone – no matter how close they are to me – is impossible. The actual marks SH leaves behind are there for all to see. People can show offence – curiosity would be ok – but offence, sorry no. This did not happen to them it happened to me and I have to live with it, they do not. I get stressed trying to hide the marks from everyone, especially family, to save them feeling hurt but in the end they find out and yet another confrontation. I want left alone with it – it’s my hurt and my battle to carry with me. Sounds selfish but it’s the only way I can hope to get some control of my life. Am I an embarrassment?


A client

About MN

I am fully qualified as Psychotherapist by Malaga University (Spain). I am a Chartered Psychotherapist registered with Colegio de Psicologos de Andalucia Oriental (British Psychological Society (BPS) equivalent in Spain). I am also registered with BPS and in the process of registering with COSCA. I hold a teaching qualification and I have trained as a trainer with EVOC (Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council). I am an ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) trainer. I have been working with people who self harm for almost a decade. In my previous job as Penumbra Self Harm Co-ordinator I gained valuable experience and knowledge of the issues affecting people who engage on self harming behaviour and those who look after them, professionally or personally.
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5 Responses to Am I an embarrassment?

  1. T Navarro says:

    Is rings so true for me, it has touched me

  2. lora says:

    all that u where saying there really hit home to me, i have not hurt myself now for over 2 years but still get the thoughts to do it just about every day, people think just because i dont cut anymore that i dont even think about it but i do all the time, i have lost lots of people from my life becouse of the my cutting, these people just could not understand self harm and it is not something u can make people understand without them wanting to understan, i youst to wonder what my life would be like if i never started hurting myself but now i just thankfull to still be here today and i now belive that i would not be where i am today without being through all i have over the last 8 years

  3. Aslan says:

    Great stuff, you hepled me out so much!

  4. Zaylin says:

    There?s a terrific aomnut of knowledge in this article!

  5. AMS says:

    As the author of the original blog thank you for your comments and I am so pleased if it has helped any one of you. I had a real goal recently which helped me to curb my self harming but in no way are the thoughts and feelings surrounding SH diminished. Now that the goal has passed I am expected to “keep up the good work”. Is this all down to the embarrassment of others? I feel it is and I know it’s a great thing not to have self harmed for a while but the “thing” sitting on my shoulder is screaming at me and it’s very difficult to ignore that all of the time. It’s hard tiring work and keeping the resolve up is almost impossible. I feel challenged by a lot of issues at the moment and that puts a great deal of pressure on me and SH would be a way of coping with that even if it a dysfunctional way.

    I am asking you for help this time – any suggestions?

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