Self Harm Awareness Day

TW: contains mild references to self harm

So here we are, another day dedicated to a particular cause.  Today is Self Harm (SH) Awareness Day.

I have lots of things I could say about SH, lots of personal experience.  Indeed, I’ve posted my share of Tweets tagged #selfharmawarenessday.  I’ve also read a lot of Tweets posted by other people.  But all of this dialogue is taking place within an online MH community and, to be frank, we don’t need to be made aware of SH.  We all know why people SH, we all know that it’s not a behaviour exclusive to young people, nor a phase to be outgrown.  We all know that it’s not an attention-seeking behaviour.

It is the greater population who need to be educated, who need to be made aware.  I’ve just done a quick Google search for ‘SH Awareness Day’ and anything I did find in the news, yet again, focussed on the rising numbers of young people who SH.  I blogged about this media-fed discrimination in Stop Feeding The Stigma.  It’s rife.

If society were to lend me an ear for a short while, I would tell them that SH it is just as big a problem in the adult population, and that it can become an addiction (similar to alcohol and drugs).

I would make a noise about the treatment those of us who SH receive in A&E.  We’re vulnerable, often noise-sensitive, people who find busy waiting areas intolerable.  Might there be a quiet area for us to wait?  I don’t expect to be seen before the elderly man with chest pain, but I’d like to be treated with as much dignity.  It would also be great if the medical staff were less apathetic, if they were trained in the art of compassion and didn’t suture our wounds in silence…oh, and I don’t want the person in the next cubicle to hear me asked whether I am feeling suicidal, whether I had been making an attempt on my life.

And I would try and express SH in words.  For me, it is like standing on a chair in the middle of a crowded room, screaming, but no one can hear me.  It is like being shut in a glass-enclosed room.  I can see people, but they can’t see me.  I’m banging the glass, and shouting, but it’s useless.  I’m not attention seeking, but trying to communicate my distress.  It is a silent cry for help.

That would be my attempt at raising awareness amongst the uneducated…for what it’s worth.


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