If you are experiencing overwhelming levels of emotional distress that you are struggling to cope with, you may choose to release the pressure build through hurting yourself in some way.  

These are just some pressures and problems you could be experiencing daily, that lead you to choose self-harm as a coping strategy. 

  • Being bullied
  • Peer pressure
  • Not feeling understood
  • Believing there is no alternative
  • Suffering with health problems
  • Parents divorcing or getting divorced
  • If you are experiencing sexual, emotional or physical abuse
  • Relationship problems or a relationship breakdown
  • Suffer from an eating disorder.  You may self-harm to cope
  • Low self-esteem
  • If you’re struggling to deal with anxiety and depression
  • If you’re experiencing anger issues
  • If you’ve lost your job
  • Experiencing an increase in your stress levels
  • Have confusion around your sexuality
  • Sitting in a quandary of feeling as though you want to end your life, but also recognising on another level that you don’t
  • Hearing negative voices in your head that tell you to hurt yourself
  • Self-harm may be your means of escaping, even for a few moments, from traumatic memories
  • Exam stress

In some instances you may re-experience past situations through memories that you find overwhelming or painful, which subsequently act as triggers towards you self-harming.  

Finding it hard to put into words what you are experiencing emotionally, and changing what you are feeling into something visual through harming yourself and causing yourself physical pain, may be the only way you believe you can reduce the overwhelming emotional feelings and thoughts you have.  

You may also hurt yourself and use self-harm as a cry for help, possibly even feeling on some level that you would like to die.  However you may not even know why you hurt yourself.  

Some of ways in which you can cause harm to yourself include;

  • Cutting
  • Poisoning
  • Burning
  • Scratching
  • Hitting yourself or walls
  • Inserting foreign objects into yourself
  • Pulling your hair
  • Eating disorders
  • Taking drugs
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Overdosing
  • Getting into fights
  • Putting yourself into dangerous situations where you know you will get hurt
  • Over exercising

Hurting yourself could also be your way of punishing yourself; with each separate negative experience you have acting as a potential trigger for why you hurt yourself in the first place.  Sometimes this trigger can cause a spiral in behaviour and a need for further self-harm, leading to the need to hurt yourself becoming a vicious cycle.

Hurting yourself may also be the only action you feel as though you have control over in your day-today life, possibly believing it is the only reliable part of your life.

Given that it is common to experience an adrenaline ‘high’, followed by a peaceful feeling (often short-lived) when you self-harm, if you experience feeling numb, dissociated or disconnected, then self-harm could be the only way you believe you can feel anything.  

The flip side of causing harm to yourself however is that you may also feel guilt, shame or self-hatred after you have self-harmed.  

Whatever reason you do hurt yourself, there are a lot of other people who experience similar difficulties to what you are going through right now.  So you are not alone, even if you feel as though you are.

Knowing that you are not alone, reaching out and asking for help with trying to understand what is going on for you emotionally and therefore why you self-harm can be a scary step to take.

If you are self-harming then getting the right help and support is paramount.  

Therapy can offer you a supportive environment in which to begin understanding your behavioural patterns, urges and triggers, along with how you might choose to learn how to distract yourself from them.  Does that sound like a good place to start?

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