Trigger Warning: Please do not read if you are triggered by discussion of any self-harm methods.
For many people, the first thing that comes to mind when the topic of self-harm comes up is cutting.
While cutting is certainly, and sadly, a common form of self-harm, it is far from the only one.
Self-harm, also known as self-mutilation, is defined as the intentional damage or injury of one’s body.
This can include pinching, punching, scratching, burning, hair pulling, excessive exercising, anorexia, bulimia, as well as several other methods.
I would like to make clear at this point that any and all of these forms of self-harm are just as serious as the others.
By assigning values of extremeness and severity to the many versions of self-harm, people can find it much easier to brush off or ignore their own or someone else’s self-damaging behaviors.
It is because of categorizations such as these that people find it so easy to ignore self-harm when it is taking place, especially their own.
This can lead to a dangerous mindset, one that reinforces one’s aversion to seeking help or treatment in that situation, because “it’s not that bad.”
One might be surprised how easy it is to think “I’ve never actually cut myself, so I’m not actually a self-harmer.”
The need to validate one’s self-harm is a gross injustice of society, especially with cries of “They’re just doing it for attention” already resounding.
To think that we live in a world where people are judged by others who have also self-harmed because they “didn’t do it as bad” is a sick perversion of humanity.
It is vital that those who are in such a bad place emotionally that they feel the need to inflict injury or damage on their own body seek help or find different avenues to cope with those feelings.
One of the first places many people would think to turn to is a close friend or confidant, especially one who may have gone through such a situation.
When that friend or confidant downplays the severity of one’s self-harm, the fragile line of hope and trust that person has placed in said confidant is shattered.
That person’s emotional health can then be further damaged by the following wave of doubt and betrayal.
Any and all intentional damage or injury to one’s body is self-harm, whether or not it breaks the skin, whether or not there is blood or visible injury and whether or not it happened once or one hundred times.
If someone feels emotionally overwhelmed or distressed enough to intentionally harm themselves, the last thing they need is for their pain to be overlooked and degraded under the standard of “It wasn’t bad enough to count.”
If you or anyone you know is struggling with this situation, please do not be embarrassed, ashamed or afraid to seek help.
Mercury Bowen is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]