Everyone has heard this statement once in their life. It could be simply said for crying. This phrase is more than just asking people to let-go and move-on. It is accusing the other person of pretentious behavior. Imagine saying this to a cancer patient. You wouldn’t because cancer is acceptable. The infected area of the body may not be visible to the naked eye. Yet, cancer is acceptable and without knowing if it causes aches or pains, people accept it. Weeping for a physical ailment is easier than mental illness. Mental illnesses are considered invisible to the naked eye. They lack prominent physical characteristics or we are ignorant about such symptoms.
One of the common physical manifestations for mental illnesses and overwhelming emotions is self-harm. The act of hurting oneself or inflicting pain on oneself. Besides depression and bipolar disorder, there are people with borderline personality disorder and impulse control disorders who engage in deliberate self-harm. Also, it is most commonly seen in students as a romanticized notion to display love.
Family members and friends often see this act as pretentious and dramatic. Our society fails to review self-harm as a psychological concern. It is alarming that school students indulge in self-harming acts. Hurting oneself is not a pretentious act. Weeping is not being dramatic. Instead, not doing anything about it is problematic.
Self-harm is not pretentious, ignoring it, is.
Mental illness is not dramatic, our reaction to it, is.
Self-harm can be an expression of frustration, anger, hurt, disappointment, shame, guilt, and other overwhelming emotions. Deliberate self-harm is a sign, a warning, which is misinterpreted. It is not attention-seeking behavior. Instead, it is attention for help.
A thirteen-year-old teenager will hurt themselves not for attention. Teenage is vulnerable because of the transitions and changes adolescents experience. The idea of self-harm itself is alarming. The problem is not within the child, the problem is within our society. We ignore the act of self-harm by assuming it is attention-seeking. We are jumping to a conclusion without even asking the right question.
“What thought led behind hurting themselves?” – a thought today will turn into an action tomorrow!
Self-hurting must require an intolerable need to inflict pain on oneself. None of us like to be in unpleasant situations. It must be extremely unbearable that it took a self-inflicted injury to lessen the degree of pain.
There are other myths regarding people who self-harm. Imagine your friend is hurting themselves and you tell them you feel threatened by their action. It is important to acknowledge self-harm as a way of coping for some people. It can be a maladaptive method just like smoking. It becomes addictive. Strangely, people think it is part of youth culture to hurt themselves. The problem is not with the youth, the problem is with our society. Just like rape is normalized so is self-harm. It is not a phase, which will be gone naturally. It is an outward expression of emotions. We tell children what not to do, when will the time come to tell them what to do?
We’re so stuck at believing that self-harm equals ending a life, that we totally miss that it could also mean to self-associate. Sometimes people feel their thoughts and feelings are unreal. They feel disconnected from their inner self. There is a disconnection between the mind and the body. Instead of feeling dissociative, they self-associate. Association means a connection between similar things. Similarly, self-association is like re-connecting oneself or a broken sense of self.
Self-harm can lead to accidental suicide. If nothing else, it should be the fear of losing a loved one that we understand self-harm has a psycho-emotional basis.
People self-harm because it is the best-known method to deal with overpowering emotions and issues. Self-harm should be a sign of feeling threatened by stressful situations and intense emotions. By self-harm, people are not threatening you!
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