Do you hide your arms from others so no one will see the cuts? Do you feel ashamed of cutting yourself (or of thinking continuously about it) but cannot stop it?
First, your pain and suffering are real, not exaggerated nor dramatized. If people close to you (including your own family and friends) don’t understand your pain, this does not mean it is not real or valid. If your parents didn’t or still don’t understand this pain and how you try every single day to overcome it and to handle it with everything you got, this doesn’t mean you are to blame. You have the right to feel this pain and to carry this suffering, and you certainly have legitimate reasons for feeling what you are feeling.
Second, cutting yourself can be a way to cope with pain (although not the best one), one that somehow may have “worked” for you in the past when you didn’t know what else you could do. However, you need to know that you don’t have to add to your emotional pain by cutting. And you don’t need to pile on more negative feelings, such as shame and guilt. Negative emotions feed on each other. Perhaps it is time to stop this vicious cycle of pain and suffering.
Even though you may be consumed by pain, suffering, and thoughts of self-harm and suicide, there is still a spark of hope inside you. That spark of hope is the reason you are reading this text right now. I want you to know this: with therapy and self-harm treatment, change is possible. Negative and painful emotions can be transcended, and turned into powerful new emotions including love, kindness, and compassion.
Types and function of self-harming behaviours
There are multiple self-harming behaviours. The most common form is cutting or scratching the skin with a sharp object, but self-harm can take a variety of different forms, such as self-burning, hair pulling, overdosing or ingesting poisonous or toxic substances. Suicide can be considered as an extreme instance of self-harming behaviour. However, self-harming behaviours are not related to suicide in all cases.
There are also many functions of self-harming behaviours, the most common being a way of regulating or mitigating unbearable negative emotions. Therefore, self-harming behaviours can be viewed as a coping mechanism in order to release the emotional pain and/or exert some control over one’s self. Self-harming behaviours can also be a form of punishment specifically when they are used to deal with intolerable feelings of shame and guilt. For some people, self-harming behaviours become a usual distraction, and a ritual that helps them feeling safe for short moments.
Are you hesitant about psychotherapy?
It is normal to be hesitant at first to embrace self-harm treatment as it involves talking about things that you might feel better putting aside and forgetting. However, you have experienced running from your emotional pain and as you know it doesn’t work well. You might also feel afraid, uncomfortable, and even ashamed to open up to a total stranger about your personal and emotional struggles, and self-harming behaviours. Nevertheless, opening up is a first step in the healing process. It provides you with a window to understand and transcend your emotional pain and gain mastery over your actions. You might also be wondering whether psychotherapy can help you. This is a very common and legitimate concern. Please read the coming paragraph to learn more how psychotherapy can help you and don’t hesitate contact me with and questions about your needs, self-harm treatment, and psychotherapy.
How can self-harm treatment help you?
Self-harm treatment is a psychotherapeutic process, meaning it requires time, energy, and resources. In addition, psychotherapy is a collaborative work between you and your therapist aiming toward common objectives, set by you. Psychotherapy can allow you to perceive and relate to internal states and external events differently. It can give you the gift of understanding, identifying, describing, experiencing, and relating to your emotions in the present moment differently, with a sense of peace, ease, and mastery. You might be able to regain self-confidence and self-control, so you can deal with challenging situations and negative, painful emotions.
Many approaches were developed and tested with severe emotional suffering; data from research suggest that cognitive-behaviour approaches in conjunction with mindfulness and compassion-focused therapy are effective.
It is important here to note that despite the effectiveness of empirically validated approaches—namely among others, cognitive-behaviour in conjunction with mindfulness, and compassion focused treatments—the qualities of the therapist remain central to the success of the process. It is crucial that the therapist is at ease working with individuals facing intense emotional struggle. He or she must also be able to contain your emotional pain and make sense of your experience, without reacting to it or judging it, but with understanding, validation, and compassion.
If you feel that self-harm treatment can help you in successfully managing (regulating) your emotions in order to free you from the negative emotions you experience at times and that I can be a humble source of such help, please contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation at: 514-632-7133.
An important note: if you have an intention and/or plan to commit suicide in the coming hours or days, it is important to contact a support line service such as suicide action (http://suicideactionmontreal.org, 514-723-4000 / 1-866-277-3553), gay écoute (http://www.gaiecoute.org/, 514-866-0103 / 1-888-505-1010), a crisis center (http://www.rccgm.com/ ) or a hospital or even dial 911. All these centers, organizations, and institutions have specialized individuals who are able to listen to your pain and help you relieve some of it immediately.