They must have tried
To tell of their grief
As they traced their way
Around the slim wrist
Like the falling of tears
From eyes of sorrow
Except they were
Life-giving colour of red
That coursed through the veins
Now lying like blotches
On the outer flesh
Of the earth!
It was a crisp winter day; the sun was shining bright. I decided to go in for self-care at a beauty parlour. The charming young girl was doing my manicure when I noticed the parallel lines on her forearms – almost a dozen marks on each arm, and I realised they were cuts!
I asked the young beautician to join me for a walk that evening. During our stroll, I complimented her on her endearing personality. When she was at ease, I asked her about the injury marks. She said that she had been harming herself due to certain concerns within her family. Not wanting to probe into her personal life, I let the matter rest but not before telling her that she was a unique creation of this universe who brought joy to all whom she met, and she must love herself above all.
Incidentally, this was not the first time that I had seen marks of self-mutilation. I had come across a few teen students who had also indulged in this sad practice.
What is self-mutilation?
Hurting yourself and inflicting physical pain to deal with painful feelings, situations, memories or experiences is self-harm or self-mutilation.
How do people self-harm?
There are many forms of causing self-harm.
Some people use the same method each time, others may use different means each time including:
Having unsafe sex
Why do people harm themselves?
There seem to be no fixed rules or patterns about why people may harm themselves. Each case may be different. According to some studies, 1 in 5 females, and 1 in 7 males may inflict pain upon themselves. 90% begin during their teen years. Nearly 50% may have been sexually abused. Some may be suffering from mental health problems, others may be seeking attention.
Self-harm and Suicide
Self-harm caused for emotional relief from stress does not us indicate an intent to die by suicide in most cases. However, some individuals may nurture thoughts of suicide.
Help those in need
Stay calm and show you care. Do not panic or threaten.
Show acceptance even if you disagree, knowing that pain comes from deep within.
Suggest seeking professional help.
- Understand and map your pattern to recognise the trigger points and urges including strong emotions, physical sensations.
- Keep a diary of what happened before, during and after the incident. This exercise may prove very challenging but will go a long way in helping to cure.
- Share your experiences with someone you trust and seek their help.
- Identify your areas of distraction so that you may avoid reaching the urge to cause self-mutilation. Distractions may include:
- Spending time with friends
- Punching cushions
- Dancing, listening to music
- Developing a creative hobby – painting/ drawing/ cooking/ writing
- Going for a nature walk, gardening
- Keeping a pet
Best Cure is Self-Care
Look after your well-being.
Take care of your health on all levels. Eat well – include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, and exercise regularly.
Build self-esteem. Self-respect, learning to value yourself, perceiving yourself positively will make a huge difference to how you view life and live life.
Avoid spending time with those unkind towards you.
Practice speaking and thinking kindly about yourself in the same way you would do for a loved one.
Replace thoughts of self-harm with those of self-worth. Make a list of what you admire about yourself.
Learn to forgive yourself.
Take control of your life by weighing the pros and cons of making a decision by looking at what does or doesn’t feel right to you. Choose to do whatever supports your self-esteem.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
-William Ernest Henley