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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Self harm awareness day

If you notice a surprising number of people are wearing orange or sporting a small heart or butterfly on their wrists tomorrow, then don't be alarmed. They are just showing their support for people who are struggling with the issue of self harm.

March 1st marks the annual self injury awareness day, although few people take the time to help dispel the myths and make others aware of the facts of the matter at hand. I find that odd, because it is thought that 1 in every 10 will self-harm at one point in their lives. If you take your average classroom of 20 students, it is likely that at least 2 of them will have, have recently or will go harm themselves purposefully in order to release unpleasant emotions. 

And you might ask "None of the people I know self harm and I don't self harm either, so why does this concern me?"...

Well, 1 in every 10 are left handed. 

Think about how many left handed people you know.

Now, think that you probably know just as many (if not more) people who have, at one point or another, harmed themselves.

It's a scary thought, isn't it?

You see, despite the popular misconception that self harm is an attention seeking habit, the majority of people who do it put a great deal of effort into hiding their scars/bruises/wounds from their loved ones. Whether it's wearing long sleeved shirts despite unbearably hot weather, refusing to go swimming because they're afraid that someone will notice the marks on their legs or just shutting themselves off completely, it's plain to see that the majority of those who self harm not only don't want attention drawn to their scars, but will try everything in their power to try avoiding their secret being exposed.

And that is where the problem lies.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you all that recovering from self harm is an easy process. It is an addiction, believe it or not, both in emotional and physical manners. Endorphins are released by the brain during the process of self-harming, which help calm down the person in question and distract them from whatever it was that caused them to injure themselves in the first place. It's a coping technique, albeit a highly destructive one. You become dependant on it when you're going through a difficult time, and trying to quit can prove an extremely difficult task. Some have explained that they feel as though they are going through withdrawal, because it has become such a large part of their lives. 

So people who say "just get over it" clearly don't understand. At all. And those people (along with those who deem self harm as a coping technique for "weak people", "emos" or "attention seekers") are the ones that this day will most benefit from reaching. It is a reminder to those suffering that they are not alone, a day of pride for those who are overcoming the issue and a battle cry to the masses that says "these people have been suffering in silence for too long, and now it's time to finally let everyone hear their stories".

Stay strong. Keep fighting. 

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