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The blog post below was written by a lovely lady called Emma, who got in touch with SelfharmUK to share her story about her recovery from bulimia and self-harm. You can read the first part of Emma's Dear Reader blog here.
How are you doing? It’s a long time since I last wrote to you. And what a journey it has been. I returned to the UK from abroad earlier this year, and that meant a change in my medication. Tailing off one set and onto the other has been really hard. I don’t know how you’d explain it to someone who doesn’t have to medicate - but the nearest thing I can say is that it’s like a very, very, long bout of the flu. I get tired a LOT and have been a bit frustrated with how fuzzy my mind has been. In fact, it took me six weeks to write this, so you can see what I mean!
However, I have been making some great progress too. A friend of mine introduced me to Elaine Aron’s Book “The Undervalued Self: Restore Your Love/Power Balance, Transform the Inner Voice That Holds You Back, and Find Your True Self-Worth”. Wow, there’s a title!
Well, this book has really helped me to understand that I haven’t been imagining my anxiety; or been dramatic. Over the years, a lot of people wanted me to just ‘snap out’ of it and get better. Even now, a lot of friends who love me keep asking me when I will get off my meds.
That book has some useful lists of things that helped me to work out that there are some root causes from when I was very young, which led to me feeling that I was rubbish and unlovable. They are not things that people did to me knowingly; but they are things that resulted in me feeling bad about myself. Throw in a bit of bullying at school, a few insensitive bosses, a couple of medical traumas, and - BOOM - full-blown anxiety was kind of inevitable.
The best bit about understanding some of the reasons WHY I have ended up with anxiety is that I am finding it easier to let those reasons go. Like I said, it wasn’t done on purpose (mainly) and even the hurt that was deliberate came from people who were hurting so much on the inside that it’s not surprising that they chose to hurt others for release. Like I said in my last letter, I do believe that those of us who turn the anger INSIDE by self-harming do so to prevent ourselves from hurting others. Some may think it’s mad, but I think it’s brave!
BUT, part of letting go of what made me hurt myself is understanding that there ARE valid reasons for my pain. Despite what other have told me over the years, I am not insane, paranoid, intense, mad, selfish, bad, wicked, stupid, crazy…. nope. I was HURT. So emotionally hurt that only physical pain could distract me. Other people drink or take drugs; my refuge was scarring myself.
This month I had a major breakthrough that I wanted to celebrate with you. After more than 25 years of self-harm (it started with my back, but over the years I have worked on my arms, face, neck, head, legs… you name it), I want to share with you a photo of me FREE from self-harm. There may be relapses, but I definitely have found that by finally really facing the root causes of my feelings of worthlessness, a lot of the emotional pain has lifted; and with it, my old urges to hurt myself have almost disappeared.
It will take a long time for all the internal and external scars to heal; but for the first time in my life, I KNOW, beyond all doubt - that I can do this! And, I promise you, you can too. Keep living through it - it really DOES start to get better.
Much love, always,