Do We Owe Anybody Our Self-Harm Stories?
Do we owe our self-harm stories to anyone? I ask because if you are a person who suffers or has suffered from mental health issues of any kind, mental health awareness is a tricky landscape to navigate, especially nowadays. Now, possibly to a greater extent than ever, there are conversations taking place on a national level about mental health research, the benefits and pitfalls of psychiatric medication, whether there exists a link between unchecked mental health problems and violence, the relationship between the rise in ailing mental health and the rise of unfettered capitalism, and so on. With these mental health topics at the forefront, people become aware of self-harm, too. But do we owe the telling of our self-harm stories to anyone for any reason?
Even in pop and Internet culture, there are casual references made to the importance of self-care, self-love and prioritizing one’s mental health over all else — a stark contrast to the stigmatized obscurity in which issues of mental health toiled for centuries, up until even just a few years ago.
Why Should We Tell Our Self-Harm Stories?
For those who have felt shamed into silence, this is the perfect opportunity to tell your self-harm stories. It is the perfect opportunity to take the issue out of the hands of “experts” and the realm of positivist disciplines to lend more nuance to what we think about self-harm.
Through your self-harm stories, people will be moved toward a more complete understanding of self-harm — one that challenges preconceived stereotypes, that builds from actual lived experiences as opposed to plots on a graph, and that engenders greater compassion.
Is There a Drawback to Telling Our Self-Harm Stories?
Publicizing your self-harm story in any way — even if it is just to your family or friends — comes with the baggage of loss: the loss of privacy and of control over your story. Once something is out in the world, it no longer belongs solely to you, and can become mutated beyond your own recognition.
If you take it a step further and cross over into activism (or into publication), your story will likely be out there in an even more public way, as will your name and face. You will be criticized and questioned and struggle to balance honesty with self-protection.
Deciding Whether or Not to Tell Your Self-Harm Story
All that being said, we owe our self-harm stories to absolutely no one. It is not socially irresponsible to choose not to tell it, nor is it particularly brave and commendable to choose to. It all comes down to the person.
Articulating your experience to others comes, like most things, with gains and costs. Remain honest with yourself about what you want out of your experience. Consider and weigh your values. Whether you choose to tell no one or everyone your self-harm stories, accept that decision will be the right one for you.
Chang, K. (2018, July 25). Do We Owe Anybody Our Self-Harm Stories?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2018/7/do-we-owe-anybody-our-self-harm-stories