A Case Study of Self Harm

by rodney on November 26, 2013

self harmOver the last few weeks, I’ve been assisting the producer of a TV show with some information on self harm.  As well as sharing some background information and statistics, I also shared some case studies from some clients. I found these case studies to be deeply emotional, highly moving and inspirational.

While this particular case study was not used, the client wanted to get their story out to others so there can be more understanding about what life is like for self -harmers. So here is their story, obviously identity has bee kept secret, which also serves as a fitting metaphor for people who self harm, They keep their secret so well that it could be anyone.

I began self-harming at 16 yrs of age.  I think the reason I did it is due to my abusive child hood, which stopped around the age of 16, but feeling pain was the only way I knew to deal with emotions, so I began inflicting it on myself. I felt euphoria when I did it was a release from the emotional pain I would experience.

Not many people knew I was doing it. I’d go to great lengths to cover it up. I used to wear long sleeve shirts to school and I’d lie about it too

I was at a point between around 16-17 yrs old where I was doing it every day. Mainly I was just cutting my arms and stomach, but I would also burn myself on occasion. My cutting became much worse, because I needed to do more cuts or deeper to get the same feeling. It was like a ritual I always used my own clean knife that was never used for anything else and it was like I would zone out and do it and then come to and realise what I had done.  The healing process was also part of it. I would pick the scabs and not let them heal. Looking at it and feeling the pain of it healing reminded me of how horrible I felt. Sometimes I was ok with it, but sometimes I didn’t feel so great afterwards. To be constantly wounded was tiring.

On the occasions I would end up in hospital, I wasn’t treated well by nurses. They made me feel pretty worthless. They were never sympathetic and made me feel like I was wasting their time. One time I was bleeding pretty badly and I was left in the waiting for 4+ hours before a nurse would see me. By this stage I had passed out a couple of times.

When I was cutting, psyches and docs didn’t know what to do with me as it was all very new.

It was very much like an addiction. I would indulge in other destructive behaviours like sex, drinking and drugs basically finding other ways to escape, but it tapered off as I got older, partly I think I grew out of it and more into myself, which I became more comfortable with but also my coping strategies were becoming destructive, my behaviour was terrible and I had much trouble forming emotional relationships with people; I still do.

I think the turning point for me was when I cut so deep I cut through all my skin and down to the fat surrounding my muscle obviously I needed stitches, but the fact that I enjoyed that so much and it was not painful, was concerning to me because I knew I would have to keep going that deep and it could cause complications.

I began therapy with at around age 20 which really helped. I then stopped therapy for a few years and then went back to it around age 25. I learnt my triggers and actively sought out other methods of dealing with my emotions also I had a lot of CBT therapy and tried different types of anti-depressants until I found one that worked for me

Last time I cut was about 3 years ago by that stage it was only a few times a year that I was cutting. Today my arms from my wrists to my shoulders are covered in very obvious scars; sometimes people ask me about them, but I just either shrug them off or flat out tell them to truth I make no effort to cover them and hide them they remind me of who I used to be, and how much stronger I am now

 I do believe it is something people can move past, because it isn’t physically healthy

If you self harm or know someone who does, please seek professional help.

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