Don't Hurt Yourself - Help Yourself
By Abbie, age 13, Louisiana
Self-injury is behavior in which people deliberately harm their own bodies in some way to cope with overwhelming emotions. It may be hard to believe to some people, but there are in fact people who suffer from this problem. To some kids it's a joke. They pretend to be 'emo' and pantomime slitting their wrists while laughing along. But this issue is no joke. It is for real and affects many teenagers out there. I wrote this article to help you learn the symptoms of a self-injurer, or if you are someone who suffers from this, to help you to find other outlets to vent your emotions.
Cutting is not the only way people can injure themselves. They can scratch themselves, burn themselves, abuse drugs, starve themselves, break their own bones, pierce themselves, beat their head against walls, pull out their hair, pull off scabs to make previous wounds bleed, or bite or pinch themselves. So be aware that for someone to be hurting themselves, they don't need to have scars on their wrists or arms.
Some symptoms you may recognize are scars or burn marks. They can be anywhere on the body, and usually in more than one spot. The person can also have cuts on their skin that look deep. Usually they will be in denial and say it was an accident and that they are clumsy. If they have bruises on their skin or have painfully broken bones many times a year, this can also be a sign of abuse, so be careful.
They might also carry around sharp things, such as scissors, tacks, staples, and safety pins. If they wear long sleeves and long pants, even in the summer, this might also be a sign. If they wear long clothing they will most likely flinch or make some kind of reaction if you touch their arms. Like I said before, if they claim to have had many accidents or mishaps, but never seem to have trouble getting around school without tripping or hurting themselves, it's most likely a cover-up. If you recognize someone with many of these symptoms, try and talk to the person. It may be all they need. But if the problem persists, and the person still appears to be harming him/herself, talk to a trusted adult such as a teacher, principal, school counselor, parent, etc.
If you are the one who is harming yourself, whenever you feel the urge to cut, burn, or whatever you do, find something else to do. Avert your thoughts to something happy or anything else. There are many ways you can help yourself. You just need to take the first step. It's always the scariest, but it will pay off in the end. If you feel like you need to hurt yourself, lay down and blare music, read, talk to your friends, or even watch TV. If the urge overpowers you find some way to release your emotions. Scream in an abandoned place or into a pillow, snap a rubber band repeatedly, or run laps around your neighborhood. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you are helping yourself and not cutting.
My best friend was a cutter, and she was scared to tell me because she thought I would think of her as a freak. I didn't, and I helped her. Now she's doing great! So always try to look on the bright side. You can pull through!
Remember to always love yourself and others!