As simple and easy modernisation is making our lives, it also comes at the cost of increased physical, mental and emotional problems. High stress, low patience, failing relationships, the increased workload in schools and offices— our home and working environment are almost suffocating us. There are times when the mental stress and emotional pain that we are suffering through starts becoming unbearable or goes beyond our level of coping.
Self-harm is when someone physically hurts themselves intentionally, mostly not in an attempt to commit suicide but just to cope with the emotional pain. It might be as severe as someone cutting themselves or might be someone biting into the flesh of their forearms. Although not a psychological or mental disorder, it can be a symptom of one or might be just a reaction to high emotional pain.
I was talking to someone who used to indulge in Self-harm once (I am pseudo-naming her Monica for ease of explanation). I asked her why she inflicted physical pain upon herself when she is the one who has to endure it, with how it is her own body she is causing pain too. She answered, “When the emotional pain or trauma becomes too much to bear and I have no means of letting it out or expressing my pain, I have no other option left. There are times when I am hurting so much from the inside that I want to scream at someone or break things or just cry, and I know I cannot do any of those things.” When I questioned her further about how hurting our own body helps in letting out that pain, she told me the physical pain “grounds” her. It distracts her from what is going on in her head and focusing on the pain stops her from thinking again and again about what’s troubling her.
Monica’s answers were unsettling. This is a weirdly twisted idea of breaking the train of thoughts.
Like Monica, a lot of people indulge in Self-harm and believe it to be the only, if not correct, the solution to dealing with their emotional pain.
It becomes important for each of us to help these people and guide them in the correct direction of seeking psychological/medical help. For those readers who are a part of this group of people, you need to understand that there are a lot of different ways for dealing with stress, emotional pain and emotional numbness instead of inflicting pain upon yourselves. Meditation, painting, deep breathing, visual imagery, counting are some of the many techniques that can be used to distract and calm someone in case of acute emotional pain.
I hope this article helps you in noticing someone near you who is harming themselves or make you realize how important it is to seek medical attention and counselling in such a situation.
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