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Speaking Out About Self Injury

I have been in self-harm recovery for about 10 years now, often dealing with what triggers my self-harm urges. During that time, it has always been difficult for me to identify what exactly is triggering my self-harm urges. It wasn't until I went to my last therapist that I got the tools to figure out my underlying patterns of self-injuring. In this post, I want to go over the three main reasons behind why I started self-harming. Maybe your triggers for self-harm urges are similar.
I have been in self-harm recovery for the past 10 years, but I didn't always know how to recognize self-harm triggers. When I was a teenager, I went to therapy to help me get over my self-harm addiction. One day, my therapist asked me “Why do you think you self-harm?” Until that moment I never really thought about the reasons behind why I self-harm. I always just thought it was the way I coped with different situations in my life. We started to brainstorm some situations, people, and events that trigger my self-harm urges. It’s beneficial to recognize self-harm triggers so you can find healthier coping skills to handle your stress.
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?”
When I was first in self-harm recovery, school was one of my major triggers. Back to school anxiety always make me fear I was going to relapse. With all of the due dates, friend drama, and the pressure to do well in my classes, school was a very stressful time for me. I had a very hard time managing my self-harm urges when I was in high school, but when I started self-harm recovery in college I started to find some healthier coping skills to handle the stresses of life. In this blog post, I am going to be sharing with you three things that helped me manage my self-harm urges while in school.
My name is Kristen Schou and I am delighted to join the Speaking Out About Self-Injury blog on HealthyPlace. I am so excited to have a platform to share my experiences with self-injury and give advice to help others. Self-injury is a condition that is very stigmatized which causes people not to reach out for the help that they need. My goal for this blog is to help others who are going through the same thing that I went through.
People want to know why self-injury is so prevalent in borderline personality disorder (BPD). According to the National Institute of Mental Health's website, borderline personality disorder consists of unstable moods, behaviors, and relationships, with trouble regulating emotions and thoughts while exhibiting impulsive behavior. Another characteristic of BPD is self-injurious behaviors and increased suicidality. Cutting and other forms of self-harm are so prevalent in borderline that they seem to have become indicators of it. Of course, not everyone who self-harms has BPD, and not everyone with the disorder self-harms. However, self-harm is widely prevalent in BPD. And I was given the borderline diagnosis probably because I cut myself.
Handling a self-harm, self-injury relapse can seem impossible after you've done all the work that goes into recovery. After all, recovering from self-harm is a long and harrowing process, but it is possible to go into full recovery and when you do, it is one of the best feelings you can experience. Struggling so long with the issues, reasons, and various feelings and emotions that lead to self-injurious behavior can leave us downtrodden and ready to give up. Not giving up gives us a sense of purpose and drive. We are trying to accomplish the major goal of overcoming a self-injury addiction. But with all addictions, there is the possibility of relapse. How do you handle a self-harm relapse?
The workplace can be a stressful and triggering environment for self-harmers. First, we have to make the decision of hiding our scars or not. If we don't, we face questions, scrutiny, and gossip from our coworkers and bosses. Secondly, we may, and probably will, be triggered to self-harm at some point. We can't control what others say and do, or what is asked of us while we're working. Thus, it is essential for us to find ways to minimize stress and stay on the course of recovery from self-harm in a triggering environment like the workplace.
The shame of self-harm can make it difficult to celebrate and feeling proud of our self-harm recovery, no matter how long or short we have gone without self-injuring. Others factors, such as self-harm stigma, can also keep us silent and regretful, even when we have every reason to be proud. It is essential to celebrate our self-harm recovery, as it helps prevent relapse and keeps us moving in the right direction.
Starting new psychiatric medication can affect self-injurious behavior. Starting when I was in my early teens, I was given many different combinations of medications to take for my mental illness. The medication side effects ranged from hives to hallucinations. The worst part about taking a different pill every couple of months was the uncertainty of how it was going to affect my mood. Most of the medications simply failed to make me better, but a few had severe adverse effects on my mood and overall health that were impossible to ignore. As a self-harmer, handling the stress and mood changes that comes along with new medications is vital to recovery. In short, you need to know the effects that new psychiatric medication may have on your self-harming.