Self-Harm and Finding Support: Places You Can Go

Friday, November 8 2013 Jennifer Aline Graham

For those who self-harm, it is important to feel supported. It is important not feel alone during a time of struggle and to be surrounded by people who care and want what is best for you. Sometimes, people aren’t that lucky. Sometimes, people are pushed away or leave a friendship because they are confused about the person’s behaviors or scared for them. Sometimes, feeling alone is all people have.

No matter what, there are places to go where a self-injury support system is waiting. You just have to open your eyes, take a deep breath and look for it.

A Place Where You Can Feel Normal

In my hometown of Syracuse, NY, there is a place where students can go to after school. It is a little building with bright colored walls, comfortable furniture and lots and lots of space. There is a media room where teenagers can play Wii or watch movies. There are pool tables, ping-pong tables and a basketball court outside. There is even a kitchen where the teens make snacks after school (usually macaroni and cheese).There are places in your community where self-harmers can go and feel like ordinary teenagers. Learn how to find these self-injury support havens.

I’ve started bringing my client to this place so he can work on his socialization skills. Like I’ve said in the past, I work with a teenage boy who has Autism, is Hard-of-Hearing and has some mental health issues. When he walks into the room, he is treated as if he is a normal, teenage boy. Yes, there are some behaviors he has that show he needs a little assistance, but he is looked at as just another peer.

When my client was playing pool with some boys, I noticed that a few of the kids there had bracelets on their arms. When looking closer, I noticed some scars. Instantly, I realized that I would have benefited from a place like this during my years of cutting. These kids were laughing with those around them and instead of focusing on their self-harm, they were focusing on their supportive peers. Instead of cutting their arms, they were helping make snack after school or flirting with their crush in the media room. They were being ordinary, happy teenagers and everyone around them seemed to respond with such positivity.

This place would have been a safe haven for me during my teenage years. It would have been a place I could go to and forget about my insecurities and anxiety. I could watch a movie or read a book in a comfortable atmosphere instead of going home to a house I did not feel safe in.

This place was the ultimate definition of a support system.

Find Your Safe Haven

If there isn’t a place around you like the one I bring my client to, don’t worry. There are places that can be just as helpful as the place I discussed. There are after school programs at almost every school that have activities, sports and trips into the community. There are activities that libraries or recreational facilities throw that often are aimed at the teenage population.

There are places and events at your school and in your community that give you the ability to find a support system. Find these places and use them as a coping skill instead of cutting or burning or bruising. The effort to look will definitely be worth it.

You can also find Jennifer Aline Graham on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and her website is here.

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

View all posts by Jennifer Aline Graham.

Self-Harm and Finding Support: Places You Can Go

william wallace
November, 11 2013 at 4:54 pm

Of course one needs people whom care if one
to survive very dark periods in their life
however one will never know the cure untill
one cares for themself /thus love themself.

The problem be one does not know their true
self / thus the inflicting of harming one's
body but the need gaining attention /where
one may gains some comfort /as some warmth.

The solution is not a problem / the problem
is one accepting the solution as in putting
it into practice finding the peace one seek.

I will write a further comment soon as give
the direction one need take / thus bringing
the peace as contentment the heart desiring.

November, 11 2013 at 12:39 pm

I'm an older cutter. Although I was demonstrating an interest in self-harm as a teenager, I did not (unlike what I tell people), start cutting until I was in my mid twenties. I had gone back to school as an adult in a competitive music program in which I was surrounded by perfect size zero women in their late teens. I was overweight, out of place, and truly miserable. The girls treated life like a continuation of high school, which was not something that I-a recently divorced woman who came from an office cubicle job-still knew how to cope with. I began to take out my frustrations by limiting calories but quickly found that a binge and purge lifestyle meant that I would get sick less. Then I learned about the heart issues affiliated with purging. Terrified, I scanned youtube for other coping mechanisms and stumbled onto a lifetime movie called "Painful Secrets". That night, I cut for the first time. It was the most wonder rush I've ever felt. Since that evening in 2010, I've had issues with cutting. My left arm is a battle ground, and I've tried to quit so many times and failed. What started out as the kitchen knives turned into glass shards, broken dishware and finally exacto blades. I've found myself-now a woman in my early 30s in a grad school program 2000 miles from my hometown-on the floor in my bathroom, surrounded by small puddles of blood and spatter on the walls. I've written messages to the man who broke my heart, in my own blood, on my bathroom mirror. I've written messages to myself.

Finally after years of becoming more and more terrified, I upped the stakes by cutting while drunk. With my inhibitions down this means deeper cuts, more blood and more scars. I've woken up in the morning, and gone to the bathroom to see what I drunkenly wrote across the floor and walls. The terrible vision of seeing darkening blood became a common experience. As are my long-sleeved shirts and my endless lies for why I never wear short sleeves despite living in a hot climate.

I finally found a therapist, sadly we've discovered that the cutting is covering for even more coping mechanisms. Underneath that was a childhood full of physical, emotional and even sexual abuse, which culminated in being abandoned by the man I loved most. Cutting is my drug because it helps me forget...or does it? Not really. It helps me talk out how I really feel. Something I've always been afraid to do because my opinion is so different from everyone else's.

After several evaluations and medical exam, I was given the diagnosis I've known deep down, throughout my life: Bipolar Disorder. I knew it. Now I know WHY this is happening, the question is, how do I control it.

Whenever something stresses me out, I still imagine cutting open arteries, blood not just dripping-but flowing. I am not suicidal, merely expressing myself-just as the girl in "Painful Secrets" does when she smears her own blood across the wall of stairwell. But this is my painful secret: I hate cutting. I hate knowing that I will never be able to wear short sleeves unless I get surgery. I hate knowing what I've done to myself, what people think of me, of what dark places I've let myself go to. I hate knowing that the enemy is with me all the time: inside my head.

Every day is a struggle. I went a whole week without cutting last week but last night I lost it and did more than I ever have before-and even took pictures of it on my cell phone. I wish, more than anything, that I didn't need this rush. However, if I don't cut, I start thinking about him, how much I miss him, and how much he doesn't miss me.

As soon as I can figure out this whole Affordable Health Care application, I plan to have insurance which can cover mental health treatment. An out-patient therapy option has been recommended to me by the therapist on staff at my university, but I'm also wondering about taking Christmas break to do a 1 week of in-patient care.

I want to get better, I want to find other ways to cope. I want to stop. Part of me doesn't but I can feel in my mind that the part of me which wants to cut-is the Bipolar me who doesn't see anything wrong with what I am doing. The Bipolar me is on a long self-destruct. The Bipolar me idealizes Judy Garland. The Bipolar me wants me to suffer but I no longer do.

I guess I'm just leaving this massive rant to say that sometimes we are older than teens, sometimes we seem normal until we roll up our sleeves. Behind closed doors in my apartment, I'm anything but normal and my hell is of my own making.

I hope I can muster up the strength you have. I hope I can get out of this. I hope I can save myself. I always thought of myself as strong. I hope I can be strong enough to overcome this.

Thank you for your blog, your video and your postings. If you need to remove my comment because it's triggering, I'll truly understand. The last thing I want is for someone else to run a sharp object on their own skin. I wish to God that I had never seen "Painful Secrets", it simply started me off on my own path to hell.

william wallace
November, 10 2013 at 10:33 am

In previous comment I wrote the solutions not the problem / rather the problem be one accepting the
solution as / putting such solution into practice.
I will write a few words in regarding such in the
ending of my comment / firstly I'll give solution.

The means being at peace in knowing the true self
has not changed since the birth of the human race
(excuse not getting into the history of humanity
it being a long story / it's of interest full of
sacrifice as brutality / kindness as be cruelity
thus I will stick to basic knowledge of solution.

In knowing true peace in knowing the true self then via meditation one need turn their senses inward doing one has such practical experience
of creator /that one being gifted a clarity of
understanding where all one's questions longed answered are answered to creation unto creator.

Throughout history of humanity there(always)a
"Teacher of Teachers" the Teacher of Teachers
be a aid guide to those in reaching the stage
that meditation required /in their furthering
development / (all come to such needed stage).

Present time the Teacher of Teachers is Prem Rawat / Prem in having dedicated his life to
all in having reached stage where meditation
is vial in their furthering development that
one goes beyond ideas beliefs / unto knowing
knowing true self knowing creator in clarity.

On PC search put (words of peace) or ( words
of peace global) on site selection of videos
which Prem explains meditation / as the open
invite to in having reached such stage where
meditation now needed in ongoing development.

Such is the solution for each individual in knowing the peace they having longed seeked
as gain a clarity of understanding creation.

The reason the solution is hard accepting is
that one's focus having been on the material realm /in seeking the answer in such / where
reality one need turn the senses inward thus
know the true self /within power of creation.

Thus the initial of changing focus can be as
bit of a challenge /thus need of the Teacher
of Teachers ... The Teacher of Teachers will
guide as aid / in your knowing the true self.

In knowing true self /you'll know true peace
life will not be a struggle but a joy / life
not a curse but be a blessing an loving gift.

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