The reasons why someone would harm themselves can be difficult to understand. The idea that someone would choose to cut, burn, or injure themselves in any way can be baffling to most people.
There can be a tendency to panic when you learn that someone you love is self-harming. You want to help them and you fear for their wellbeing, understandably. But there are reasons why people turn to this behavior. It is important that instead of going straight to panic mode, as hard as that might be, that you take some time to learn about self-harming.
Why do people self-harm?
When someone is going through emotional pain or negative thought patterns that they want to end, they might turn to self-harm for temporary relief. If a person is suffering from repeated unwelcome thoughts or fears that are unavoidable or overwhelming, self-harming can temporarily turn those thoughts off. It is hard to turn away from intense physical pain.
In this case, self-harming is a way for a person to try to regain control over their thoughts. Someone who is self-injuring might use the physical pain to calm the chaotic chatter of their minds. Often victims of trauma will use this to escape those memories.
You know that feeling when you are wound up and you crave a release of some kind. Some forms of healthy release may include exercise, writing, crying, or screaming into a pillow, but for some, they may turn to self-harm. That physical pain helps to provide temporary relief from the emotional pain of the time. They feel the need to take action to stop whatever else they are feeling and this is the means by which they do.
To Feel Something
Victims of trauma often cope with their trauma by dissociating, making them numb to feelings. Dissociation is a mental and emotional state where the normal unitary experience of consciousness gets chopped up into disconnected parts. When a person feels numb or disassociated and just wants to feel something, it doesn’t matter to them at the time that the feeling is a bad feeling. They might turn to physical pain in an attempt to simply feel.
Feeling nothing can also be painful. By self-harming a strong sensation occurs that can bring a person back to feeling for a time.
Express Themselves or Communicate
Often intense emotions can be hard to communicate or express. A person who struggles with verbally communicating how they feel might turn to physical harm. The person likely feels that they can’t keep the emotion inside any longer and is trying to call for help.
A person who struggles with self-esteem might turn to self-harm as a form of punishment. Whatever it is they felt that they did wrong, they might feel like they are making things right by hurting themselves. The thought here is that they deserve it. In truth we all make mistakes. Hurting ourselves is never something we deserve.
To Experience Euphoria
Immediately after committing an act of self-harm a person may feel a very temporary feeling of euphoria. For a person who is struggling with finding happiness and content in their life that feeling of euphoria might be something they are hunting for, even if it is very brief. There are healthy ways to feel euphoric. A mental health professional can help with coping tools.
If you or someone you love is struggling with self-harming behaviors, it is important that you be there to support them during this difficult time. Read our past blog for ways to help. This is an extremely difficult time for all of you. Help to guide them to a mental health professional who can assist them in healthy coping mechanisms.
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The professionally trained and licensed counselors at Rooted & Rising Therapy in Bridgeville have openings. Our practice specializes in treating individuals through years of experience, we’re confident that no problem is too great to overcome. Through therapy, there is always a way to address the issues you face and learn coping strategies to help you both right now and in the future. Just call our office at (412) 228-8489 or email us at email@example.com to get started to feeling better today. We are here for you.