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Self harm - with Karina from 42nd Sreet
Karina from 42nd Street returns to take your questions about self harm live in chat. We talked about being honest with your counsellor, where to find help and how parents can react to self harm
beingauburn: Sometimes I self-harm and I don't know what to do about it I suppose.
Karina: Hi beingauburn, thanks for being open about that. Are we the first people you've talked to about this?
beingauburn: My friends and my boyfriend know.
Karina: How did that go? Did they react OK?
beingauburn: Yeah. Obviously they weren't happy about it, but it went okay.
Karina: When you say you're not sure what to do about it have you thought that you might need some help with things right now?
beingauburn: I've thought about it but I don't know if it's a good idea.
Karina: Is there something that worries you about getting help? It can be a scary thing.
beingauburn: It's kind of admitting defeat I guess.
Karina: Is that because you don't think you should need help and should be able to cope alone?
beingauburn: I feel like getting help would be selfish because there are so many other people with problems worse than mine.
Karina: It sounds like you don't feel you deserve help but if you're feeling low and have got to the point of self-harming, you do deserve help and support with that. I wonder what you would say to a friend of yours if they were in the same position.
beingauburn: You see, to me, self-harming doesn't seem like a big deal, so I don't know what I'd say.
Karina: OK, so that sounds like it's not a problem for you but it also sounds like part of you does want some help - perhaps to stop or to feel better? It's OK not to be sure what you want.
beingauburn: I just want my self esteem back, because I lost it all when I started self-harming.
Karina: Do you have an idea what started it all? You don't need to share that if you don't want to, but knowing what started your self-harming might give you some ideas about the things that underlie it and the things you might need some support with.
beingauburn: It started about a year ago. A lot of things happened and I felt quite alone.
Karina: OK, I wonder if that's still the case? Sometimes we can feel alone even if we have other people around like friends and a partner.
beingauburn: Of course, I always feel really insecure.
Karina: It really does sound like checking out some external support might be useful. Have you ever thought about something like counselling?
beingauburn: Yeah, I just don't know where I can get any.
Karina: Well one way is through your GP but there are a lot of youth counselling services around and they will be confidential.
**Helen**: It can be really overwhelming when confronted with options and knowing where to start is tricky. You might find it helpful to read TheSite.org's steps to recovery article.
beingauburn: Thanks :)
Karina: You're welcome.
**Helen**: Going through a GP is a much better option now than it was in the past as people tend to be better informed about it, and they can also refer to other places. We have an interview with a GP about self-harm that you might find interesting too.
Karina: If you check out a website called Youth Access and put your postcode in, it will give you a list of counselling services in your area.
beingauburn: Okay :)
**Helen**: If after this chat you did just want to talk more about your experiences to build up the courage to get help, you can always come back to the chat room or write to askTheSite - a chance to write down all your feelings with no time pressures.
Karina: It's just important to remember that you do deserve support :)
Sara: How can you be honest with a counsellor about self-harm? I know when I go tomorrow for my first appointment in five months she will ask me about my self-harm and if I've still stopped. The truth is, I never did stop but felt somewhat compelled for some reason to say that I had. How can I be honest about the situation?
Karina: Thanks for the question, Sara. Feeling that you need to stop is pretty common. How about taking a risk and telling your counsellor the truth?
Are you worried about how they will react? Or perhaps worried about letting them down in some way?
Sara: I know it would be the right thing to do but I also know that I am 'better' now, or at least everybody thinks I am. If I was honest then my parents would find out again and it's sort of like I've recovered in their eyes and saying it all again would be devastating.
Karina: That sounds really tough Sara. Were your parents supportive when they first found out that things were not OK and you were harming yourself?
Sara: Not really supportive, it was more like 'stop please' and after that my mum thought I'd stopped until I overdosed more than a year ago. That was when they really found out the extent of it. Now we've gone back to me being 'okay' again because I hide things. Don't get me wrong, things did improve somewhat for about half a year.
Karina: OK, so you really do feel under pressure to hide it from your parents but I guess hiding it from your parents and your counsellor must be very tough for you?
Karina: Do you have any idea what made things better for a while?
Sara: It was the thought of going into hospital again. I didn't want to do that again.
Karina: So it was almost like the fear of going back in to hospital made you stop harming?
Sara: For a little while Karina.
Karina: I guess the risk is that if you don't ask for help from your counsellor now, things could build up to the point where the control is taken away from you?
"It's important to try and be upfront with your counsellor. They will understand that people don't get better overnight."
Sara: I generally sing when I feel down and when I don't as well, haha. Lately I don't have the energy or effort to do anything, self-harm included, so I guess it's not an issue.
Karina: I see, yeah, it sounds like you really are quite down at the moment. You said you had a meeting with the counsellor coming up so perhaps you could think about writing down what you really want to say?
Sara: I may just admit to being down tomorrow and not any self-harm stuff as I'm not really doing any at the moment.
Karina: That would be a good start. Do you think you could be open about just how down you're feeling?
Sara: Probably not completely open, but I can say that I'm not feeling too well mentally.
Karina: It's important to be upfront with your counsellor. They will understand that people don't get better overnight. I really hope it all goes OK.
Sara: Thank you, and thanks for the help :)
Karina: You can also send us a question on askTheSite where we can respond in more detail if you like.
Jo7: Thanks Karina. Were going to move on to Claire's question next :)
Claire: Is it normal for somebody who has overdosed, to overdose more than once, like relapse? Previously its made the person violently ill, but they don't understand why they are overdosing, if that makes any sense?
Karina: If someone often feels suicidal, or is not sure if they want to be alive, then they may try and overdose repeatedly.
Claire: That's the thing though, the person wants to be alive and doesn't know why they overdose.
Karina: Do you think that overdosing is about something else - like asking for help or getting a break from painful feelings perhaps?
Claire: Maybe... she doesn't know what to do.
Karina: I guess it can be hard to keep going.
Claire: Yeah, I think she will be OK though.
Karina: How about getting help - is that an option? Like counselling perhaps?
Claire: I don't know. She is on medication.
Karina: And does that help? Or is that what was used for the overdose?
Claire: Most of the times it does help, and yes, she overdosed on the medication from the doctors. I know the person is feeling very low tonight. She's been texting me.
**Helen**: Claire, it's good that your friend feels able to text - do let her know that she can text Samaritans too. And don't forget that you can carry on talking about this in general chat if it's something that you'd like more support with.
Jo7: Thanks Claire, we'll move on to Holly's question now.
hollyc8: I tried telling my mum that I've self-harmed for a year during an argument on Sunday. I ran upstairs crying, and she didn't bother to talk to me about it and hasn't mentioned it or seems at all concerned. I want help. I don't want to go on like this. I cry myself to sleep a lot but I don't know how to get it.
Karina: Hi Holly - welcome to the chat room. That sounds like a really tough and painful experience.
hollyc8: The fact that my mum doesn't care has made my cutting worse because I feel like if she doesn't care then no one would.
Karina: Sometimes parents can react like that because they don't know what to do rather than don't care - what do you reckon?
Claire: My mum was the same when I told her I self harmed.
Karina: Is there someone else in your life that you can trust with how you're feeling and that you can get support from? Do you tend to have a good relationship with your mum most of the time?
hollyc8: I've found anti-depressants in my mum's bag recently so I thought she might know how I feel. There were two main things that caused me to start self harming. One of them was that my parents had just split up and I found out that my mum was seeing this man who still had a partner.
I hated them both for it and didn't feel good enough for my mum. I was really stressed because I was the only one who knew about it. She denied it to my face for a year then, not that long ago, I came home and he'd moved in without my mum telling me. My mum and I have a really bad relationship. That's it, put really simply.
Now I can't stop cutting. I go through phases of being okay and happy then I'm suddenly really depressed and feeling suicidal.
Karina: That's really tough. How about getting some other support for you? Have you told anyone else?
hollyc8: I've told one of my friends because I knew he self-harmed as well but that's it.
Karina: That sounds like a good start. You need people on your side right now. What about professional help like counselling?
hollyc8: I wouldn't know where to go or how to get it, especially without my mum knowing.
Generally, counselling should be completely confidential.
**Helen**: Here's a link to the article on confidentiality.
hollyc8: Thank you :)
Karina: You're welcome. I hope you manage to get some help that works for you.
Jo7: You can also try going to your GP or, depending on how old you are, most schools and colleges will have a counselling service that might be an option too.
**Helen**: It's great you felt able to come to chat tonight Holly. Feel free to stick around for the general chat session after this. Or you can join the discussion boards to ask for help.
Sara: Thanks Karina for all your help.
Karina: OK folks, it's been good to chat and thanks for your openness and honesty - bye!