As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on, living in its shadow has gradually become more and more familiar to us. But familiarity hasn't made any of it easier to live with, especially not those of us who were already struggling with our mental health prior to this year. Recovering from self-harm during a pandemic isn't easy—but it is possible.
Speaking Out About Self Injury
Self-harm and suicide are somewhat shrouded in mystery. Many consider them a teenage fad, a call for attention, or, worse, an act of selfishness. On the other hand, research suggests that self-injury and suicide often go hand in hand with trauma, which is a serious matter. And yet, the phenomenon is not fully understood. Is it because we choose to suffer in silence? (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
Self-injury, by its very nature, seems inherently connected to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Yet while suicide necessarily involves causing yourself harm, there is a subtle but important difference between self-harm vs. self-destruction.
Exercise can be a great way to let go of negative emotions and manage your self-harm urges. In particular, using yoga for self-harm prevention is beneficial as it teaches you to connect with your body and physically accept it with all its imperfections.
Is social media increasing your self-harm urges? Scrolling through social media is an everyday activity for most of us. We can lose ourselves in it for hours on end. However, our digital obsession can have a detrimental effect on our mental health. It could even become a self-harm trigger for those who suffer from low self-esteem.
Shame and guilt aren't just common self-harm triggers—they are also often numbered among the scars self-injury leaves behind. Moving on is a vital part of the recovery process, but how do you forgive yourself for hurting yourself?
Self-injury, poor body image, and eating disorders often travel together. After all, a poor body image is something many self-harmers often share in common, and that poor body image can turn into an eating disorder. Developing a healthy relationship with our bodies is a crucial step towards recovery.
How can you tell if your self-harm is getting worse? Self-injury, like most mental health disorders, exists on a spectrum. Some people only ever engage in relatively minor acts of self-harm, while for others, the situation may become more serious. If you suspect your self-harm is getting worse, it is important to not only recognize that truth but also take steps now to keep yourself from sliding down a dangerous, slippery slope.
Many self-harm stereotypes are linked to immaturity. The common misconception is that if you self-injure, you must be a teenager or going through a phase. Nothing could be further from the truth, and we mustn't forget that self-harm is also prevalent in older adults.
Self-neglect and self-harm may not be the same thing, but there is certainly some overlap. What drives people to hurt themselves may also drive them to deprive themselves of the basic care and comfort we all deserve and need in order to thrive.