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Recovering from Self-Harming
  • With help from a mental health professional, and support from family and friends, self-harming is treatable, and recovery is possible.

  • Treatment is tailored to the severity of the self-harming behaviour. A Physician may prescribe medication, and counselling is often recommended.

  • Counselling can help build coping skills, and find other potentially less harmful ways of dealing with emotional pain.

  • You can think of recovery from self-harming as part of a personal journey to feel a degree of control over your life, and to have meaningful relationships with people you trust – whether they are family members, friends, or people at school or work.

  • Recovery also means different things to each person. For some, recovery means that no symptoms will persist, while for others, recovery means learning to live a full life despite any ongoing symptoms.

 

Signs of self-harming behaviour:

Though many individuals try to hide this behaviour, there are still noticeable signs that someone might be self-harming.

Note: These symptoms are not necessarily present all the time. This list should not be used to diagnose yourself or someone else. This is intended only to provide general information. If you think you might be experiencing a mental illness, you should see your doctor for an accurate assessment and treatment plan.

  • Excuses given for injuries

  • Odd injuries, such as scratches, cuts or burn marks in unusual places

  • Complaints of physical illnesses like headaches or stomach pains

  • Clothes that cover up a person’s arms and legs, even in hot weather

  • Hiding or excessively washing clothes

  • Avoiding situations where bare arms and legs would naturally happen – for example, swimming

  • Noticeable changes in mood

  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns, either too much or not enough of either

  • Loss of interest and pleasure in activities that were once fun things to do

  • Less participation in friend and family communication and activity

  • Problems in friend, social or romantic boyfriend/girlfriend relationships

 

Getting help

Seek emergency help immediately if you are harming yourself and/or having suicidal thoughts or behaviours.

You should also seek help right away if you:

  • Have trouble with alcohol or drug use, or have other mental health concerns

  • Think your symptoms could be linked to a physical health problem

  • Are experiencing prolonged trouble sleeping

  • Feel as though normal life stresses don’t explain your symptoms

Try to talk to someone about how you feel. Sharing concerns with someone you trust can help keep you safe and direct you to medical help if necessary. Think about talking to:

  • A parent or other family member

  • Your school guidance counsellor

  • Medical personnel, such as your doctor or a nurse at a clinic, band office or nursing station

  • Staff at a teen clinic

Treatment and recovery are possible. Counselling can help you:

  • Find other ways to express emotional pain

  • Find easier ways to talk about things that are bothering you

  • Develop coping skills, which help you to manage any stresses you might be feeling before getting the urge to self-harm

Sometimes, recovery can take time, so it's best to keep attending counselling even if you find it slow or hard the first few times.