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Speaking Out About Self Injury

Kayla Chang
Some coping mechanisms for self-harm act immediately to help stop the urge. In fact, sometimes all we need to get us committed to stop engaging in self-harm is knowing that there are alternative ways of coping with distress and satisfying self-harm compulsions. An important step toward self-harm recovery involves familiarizing ourselves with these alternative coping mechanisms for self-harm, figuring out what works for us, and creating a toolbox (whether that be a mental toolbox or a literal collection of physical objects) of things that we can turn to in our more vulnerable moments. 
Kayla Chang
It's dangerous to compare yourself to others, although most of us do have this tendency. Even beyond the more obvious points of comparison such as beauty, wealth, and popularity, we tend also to compare our respective struggles. In some ways we want to be sure that we are doing better than other people — that they are "worse off" than we are. But in other ways, we almost wish that we are the ones who are worse off — the ones who struggle the most, suffer the most, hurt the most. 
Kayla Chang
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. 
Kayla Chang
Learning better communication skills can help you end self-harm, and communication does not always have to be verbal. Everything about the way we present ourselves in front of other people is intended, whether consciously or not, as a way to communicate something. Communication is not just limited to verbal interactions. It is not even limited to just deliberate physical movements and facial expressions. Everything from the way we dress, the way we walk, what we order at a restaurant, and even those parts of ourselves we think we are hiding, including -- yes -- our self-harm, are ways of making our thoughts, emotions, and sense of identity socially readable. Self-harm is an unhealthy communication skill, and learning new skills will help you stop self-harming.
Kayla Chang
Our expectations about self-harm recovery sabotage us. You see, when you are in the depths of your self-harm, it is hard to imagine life without it. Even if you want to stop, it feels overwhelming and daunting because you figure that in order to be able to stop, the problems that made you turn to self-harm in the first place would have to be resolved. In other words, the circumstances surrounding your recovery would have to be completely different from the circumstances surrounding your self-harm. But this is a lie we tell ourselves that will sabotage our self-harm recovery.
Kayla Chang
It is common — and not entirely accurate — to assume that self-harm is a sign of suicidal thoughts and/or urges. Self-harm is a maladaptive coping mechanism with highly complex psychological and neurological underpinnings and cannot be reduced to simply a reaction to suicidal feelings. Not all of those who self-harm are suicidal and not all of those who are suicidal self-harm. This is an important point to remember when talking about self-harm in relation to suicidality, which can be a touchy subject for many. 
Kayla Chang
The root causes of self-harm are as varied as the people who are affected by it. Though self-harm is a problem in and of itself, it is often a response to an underlying stressor of some kind. The reason behind the stress is the cause of self-harm.
Kayla Chang
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?
Kayla Chang
Self-harm stigma is a bit different than the stigma surrounding, say, something like schizophrenia. Whereas there is no overarching societal perception of schizophrenia as an embarrassing condition to have, there is certainly an element of embarrassment that is created by self-harm stigma.