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Your Hold Over Me

Mental Health and Trauma Blog | Noisy

TW: Addiction / Self Harm / Graphic Detail Addiction is something that so many people are affected by yet it's barely talked about, and when we do bring up the subject we are met with judgement and disapproval. If you haven't been directly affected you will, at the very least, know someone who has. When you think of the word addiction what comes to mind? Alcohol? Drugs? They're the most talked about, but what about self-harm? I'm sure many of you reading this will question how someone can be addicted to self-harm. But what is an addiction to alcohol and drugs if it isn't a form of self-harm? You may not be cutting yourself, but you are damaging yourself. You're finding relief in something that's causing you damage to cope with everyday life. Although harmful coping mechanisms are met with disapproval, self harm is met with disgust, shame, and undeniable judgement. There's very little to no sympathy given, just a harmful label of "attention seeking". Yet someone overindulging with alcohol every weekend to the point of where they're barely conscious is seen as "letting your hair down". I have self-harmed from the age of 15 (I'm now 28) in the form of cutting myself with a blade. In those 13 years I have hidden it very well. My parents found out after around 6 months, I promised I'd never do it again and to this day they think I stopped. I never told them, I never showed them, I hid it. It wasn't attention seeking, I was trying to cope in my own private way. As an adult I've self-harmed many times and not a single person has known about it. I always cover my scars in public, not because I'm ashamed, but because people don't need to see them. It doesn't bother me if they know what caused the severe scarring, but I also don't need them to know. It's my coping mechanism, nobody else's. If I didn't speak so openly about it nobody would be aware of it, and I'd be happy with that. Many would never consider cutting yourself as an addiction, and neither did I until my psychiatrist asked me one simple question. "Are you addicted to cutting yourself?" I scoffed and quickly replied "no" but as soon as I did I stopped for a moment and really thought about the question he asked me. The definition of addiction is "an inability to stop doing or using something, especially something harmful". At the time I was asked that question could I stop? No, with all the will in the world I couldn't stop. I was undeniably addicted to cutting myself, a harmful coping mechanism which I couldn't stop doing. Many would question why it's so difficult to stop self-harming, and the very same people would give an unhelpful answer of "just stop cutting yourself". One which I've heard before. The addiction, for me, isn't the act of cutting itself, but the feeling it gives me. In that moment any mental pain that's overwhelming me gets drowned out by the physical pain I inflict on myself. For those few minutes, it's an escape. Of course once it's done, the mental pain starts to creep back in and you're back to square one. But the built-up stress has been eased a little and the pain from any movement gives you small amounts of relief until you've healed. What you're left with are reminders of the relief you felt in the form of scars. Every time you look at your body you're reminded time and time again, until the need to escape your problems arises and you repeat the process. The more you do it, the more scars you acquire over time, and the more you're reminded of how much it has helped over all those years. That is an addiction to self-harm. I still cut myself now but nowhere near as often as I used to. These days it's a last-ditch attempt to help myself when everything else has failed. Over the years I've found a lot of healthy coping mechanisms that do work in day-to-day life and have saved my body from even more damage. There are over a thousand scars on my body so every time a healthy coping mechanism is successful I count it as a win. I don't count the days since the last time I self-harmed because for me it's unnecessary pressure to put on myself. For some it can be a way to look back and see how far they've come but for me I see it as a disaster waiting to happen. When the urges to cut myself become overwhelming and everything else has failed, I feel guilt for self-harming as I reset the counter. With my psychiatrist I came to the realisation it's something I will probably always do, not as frequently, and not to the extent I previously did, but it's something that will always be there if needed. I have never used it as an attempt to end my life and have enough experience to know if I have caused myself serious damage. I'm also fully capable of seeking medical attention if ever required. Like any addiction, I don't see myself as recovered but in recovery. It's a path I will walk for the rest of my life. If you're struggling with addiction, please do reach out for help and know that you're never alone. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems. This is the fight of your life. - Noisy


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I self harm. I repeatedly pick the skin surrounding my nails until I bleed. I also repeatedly scratch a small area on the back of my hand or my forearm until it becomes read raw. It heals like a burn, because the repeated friction causes burn like injuries.

Why though? The first is simply a bad habit but it's also a distraction when I'm bored - watching TV n=bores me but it's part of "required" family activity.

The latter is part of maintaining a level of control in difficult situations. I'm an aspie so a lot of "normal" emotional stuff is beyond my understanding and when in difficult situations I start to rub/scratch my skin, safe in the knowledge that…


Thank you for sharing your experience on this subject! I can safely say that self harm (cutting) is something I have control over now rather than it controlling me. So although it isn't safe, it's safer this way than the previous. There is a huge control aspect related to self harm. Thank you so much for reading! - Noisy

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