It may be difficult to imagine how self-harm affects others when no one even knows (at least to your knowledge) that you're hurting yourself. Pain, however, always causes a ripple effect.
Self-Injury and Relationships
There are few things that make you feel more helpless than seeing a loved one suffer from self-harm and not knowing how to make the suffering stop. Suffering, in most cases, is out of our hands. It is not within our direct control. With self-harm, it can be doubly frustrating because not only is it something outside of our control, but it also something that we often cannot even comprehend. It is a suffering that's both foreign and cruelly over-familiar, affecting everyone from our closest friends and romantic partners to members of our family.
When you self-harm, secrets are a priority. Self-harm thrives on secrecy. It relies on shame, embarrassment, and social taboo to survive. Contrary to the stereotype of the attention-seeking self-harmer, many self-harmers actually live in constant fear of being found out — of having their self-harm come to light.
Self-harm affects relationships negatively when you swear your loved ones to secrecy. As you know, one of the worst things about self-harm is all the lying, all the secrecy. Whether you have self-harmed once or have had a habit for years, chances are that it is not something you are open about. Chances are that, somewhere along the way, you have lied — either directly or by omission — to someone about your self-harm.
Questions about self-harm scars and dating, sex and intimacy cause many people with visible self-harm scars to worry: "Are self-harm scars a turn-off?" "Should I try to hide my scars from my partner?" "When is it appropriate to explain my scars to a partner, and how can I best approach this type of conversation?" What are the right answers to these questions about self-harm scars and dating?
There are ways to explain self-harm scars to children, but I haven't always known what to say. When I was in my first year of college I had a job working with children at a daycare. Children are curious by nature and they ask a lot of questions about their surroundings. If something is “out of the norm” they are going to ask questions about it. One night, I wore a dress which showed a few of my scars. I had a small child come up and ask me, “Teacher, what happened to your leg?”
There is no easy way to discuss past self-harm. No matter how you go about bringing forward difficult struggles from your past, it is almost always going to be an uncomfortable situation. Even for the most confident person, there is always something that gets in the way of that confidence and, for some, it can be discussing a mental health issue, like self-injury, they must deal with.
Being twenty-five years old, I am smack in the middle of a time when many friends and family members are either getting engaged, married or popping out babies. While I am perfectly content with my job, boyfriend and Miniature Schnauzer, it can cause overwhelming anxiety to those who feel as if they need to rush forward with certain parts of their lives. We tend to focus on adolescents who self-harm because, well, that’s when most seem to struggle with it. However, even though I am unaware of the statistics, self-harm continues to be an issue for many even after high school graduation. I was twenty years old when my last cut was made, but who knows how many people in their twenties are still struggling with the need to self-injure?
When it comes to self-harming, the importance of the marks tends to overpower the importance of relationships with reality. Well, at least this rang true to me during my difficult years. I had friends in high school, however, most of them I do not talk to anymore. Those I do still talk to I hope to never push away. I will admit it now, though. I pushed most of my friends away during the years I struggled with self-harm.
There is always something that triggers the interest, want or need to self-harm. Listing self-harm triggers could go on forever, but after looking around at others who have self-harmed, as well as my own background, I found three major triggers that seem to be factors in the self-harming world. The three self-harm triggers that I noticed popped up the most were family, relationships, and bullying.