The Myths About Self Harm

The Myths About Self Harm
I have a beautiful friend, who seems to have it all - perfect children, successful husband, rising career and physically fit. One fine afternoon, we met up at a cafe for coffee to talk about recent encounters and life stories... I remembered her phone rang when she was sharing a joke with me, we were laughing at the verge of tears... As she searched through her exquisite leather handbag, I couldn’t help but notice a red marker pen she carried in her bag. After she finished talking on the phone, I asked her, “Hey... what’s that red marker for?”

She looked at me and then gazed away quietly, as if she was trying to organise her thoughts. And after a few seconds, she looked at me and said, “You know, I have been having self harm tendency.”

It was a shock to me. For a moment, I don’t know what to say to express my concern and surprise and empathy and curiosity all at once. We spent a good amount of time that afternoon to talk about this issue. And her sharing has helped me to understand self harm more.

I am always a typical conflict avoidance individual, so under normal circumstances, I will tend to avoid such sensitive and heavy subject. And because of my ignorance, I have come to realised that I don’t know how to help or manage such situation when I encounter friends or family members that have self harm issue.

Here, the myth and truth about self harm.
Myth: Those who self harm are crazy.

Truth: Self harm is a coping mechanism. It might be true that they might suffer from depression, anxiety and trauma; but that doesn’t make them crazy or psychotic. Self harm is simply how they cope with their emotions. Therefore, don’t label them as “crazy” or “threatening”.

Myth: They just want to gain attention.
Truth: Those who cut or injure themselves generally suffer silently. It is painful to know that they normally hide and hurt themselves secretly. They very often feel ashamed and afraid to seek for help. They are not trying to draw attention to themselves or trying to affect others through their action.
Myth: They are suicidal.

Truth: They are not trying to kill themselves when they self injure or self harm. It is merely a way to cope with their struggles and emotional pain. It could be a mean for them to carry on with life and overwhelming stress. However, after a prolong period of constantly hurting themselves, they might have a higher tendency of committing suicide. Therefore, it is important to seek help and get medical attention.

Myth: It is not that serious if the injury is mild or minor.
Truth: The extremity of the injury has no direct relation to the extend of the emotional pain/frustration. Don’t assume that the wounds are small, he/she should be alright. Be observant and try to provide support when you see such self injured cuts.


So back to the red marker. She told me she is seeing a therapist at the moment and this is one of the method that she finds useful. That is, to use the red marker to draw on her wrist or wherever she feels like cutting herself. It helps to reduce the intensity of the emotions and when she looks at the mark she made on herself, it allows her more time to acknowledge her own feelings such as fear, frustration and pain at those seemingly unbearable situations. And when she is more aware of how she feels, she has more clarity on how she can react to those intolerable distresses.
My friend is a courageous woman.
I am grateful that she is willing to share such private information with me and educate me about the state of mind of those who self harm or self injure. Through today’s article, I wish it helps you to understand self harm more and thus able to offer support and help to those you care about.
Do you have similar experience before? Please share with me in the comment box below, to tell me how you manage and find your way out.

Eryn W.
Wife and mother. Flirting between words and personal experience, she offers inspiration for women to stay positive and work hard.