Guest Post #8

Mental health is defined as “a psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustment.” It can manifest as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia and much more.

There are many different ways of dealing with these various disorders, be they medication or counselling, but the thing is how do you know if your suffering from a mental illness? Everybody has up days and down days, but some people have more down days than up. The difference is, people suffering from depression generally become disconnected and isolated from reality and it becomes difficult to “deal” with life. This feeling of isolation and disconnection (of which humans fear) results in people minimizing their own emotions essentially numbing themselves. When this happens, some people become unable to cope and turn to self-harm and suicide as methods of dealing with the emotional turmoil experienced by people suffering with depression etc.
When a person self-harms, they are not doing so to “fit in” or to “be accepted”, they are doing so as a cry for help.

Self-harm is not only cutting. Binge drinking, smoking, nail biting, hitting, scratching, asphyxiation, physical inactivity and food restriction are also examples of behaviours which fall into the category of self-harm. It just so happens that for some reason, unlike cutting and burning, these methods of self-harm are all more or less socially acceptable.

Some people think that people who self-harm are doing so as an attempt of suicide. This, for the most part is not true. This is merely a myth. During the early stages of self-harm, most cuts are superficial and if the cutting is continued it becomes a major issue as people will develop a relationship between sadness and self-harm. People who suffer from self-harm do so, not because they are ‘mad’ but because they are distressed. It is an attempt to cope with difficult and strenuous emotions; they don’t know what else to do. 

“It is a way of expressing, and sometimes the only way of communicating pent-up, over-powering feelings…and can distract from self-harm”
-Joan Freeman

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