by Ana Montana
The idea that someone would intentionally physically hurt themselves is something that most people find difficult to understand, but the truth is some of us take precautions to keep ourselves safe and healthy. Non-suicidal self-injury, also known as self-mutilation or self-harm, is usually so much closer to home than you might think.
Of course, there are a lot of myths and stereotypes regarding non-suicidal self-injury that haven’t been supported by scientific research, but it has been statistically confirmed that one of every five people you know has engaged in NSSI (Non-Suicidal Self-Injury) at some point. Shocking, right? Actually, some people who self-injure don’t even meet criteria for a psychiatric disorder.
Self-Harm is one of the most prevalent behaviours in Borderline Personality Disorder. Of course not everyone who self-harms has BPD and not every person with BPD self-harms. For many people (like me), self-mutilation is a way to gain control of feelings and emotions when we can’t seem to reel them in.
For instance, yes, we do have problems regulating our emotions and moods, but not all of us want to die and some of us use cutting (or other self-harming behaviors) as a coping technique. Some self-injurious behaviors decrease with time, but some don’t. We can always try to draw upon other alternatives that doesn’t involve harming ourselves. Given the significant negative consequences associated with NSSI, like scarring, infection, increased risk of self-injury, depression, anxiety, and shame, it is essential that we correct these myths.
We know that most of the time NSSI is associated with negative emotional, physical and social behaviors, but it’s important to clarify that it’s also a coping technique (I know it’s hard to understand for most people) that not necessarily mean that the person doing it wants to die, actually, many people prefer self-harming rather than getting to the point of attempting suicide (or actually achieving it). NSSI generally stems from emotional pain, NOT MALEVOLENT INTENTIONS. Yes, it’s important to find more effective skills to replace self-injury, because after all, harming your body is not the only way to cope with emotions and pain, but we also need to understand that minor or moderate physical harm works for some of us.