CAUTION: This post contains discussion of self harm and may contain triggers for some people. There are purposely no disturbing images contained in the post, but if self harm is an issue for you I recommend caution in reading.
Sometimes when you have to compete with a chronic illness, there can be a delay in the process of the idea of a post to actually seeing it to the point of ‘publish’. Thanks to fibromyalgia, this is the case, but it’s not always a bad thing. It might mean that I am posting about an issue several days after the rest of the world, but at least it gives me time to think over what I want to say. Meanwhile I guess I’ll never be ‘hot off the press’.
It doesn’t take much for some of us to be triggered by what we see and what we read. A few days ago I got wind of the issue of Justin Bieber and self harm whirling frantically on social media. First let me say that I never, in a million years, thought I’d be writing about Justin Bieber, but then it’s not really about him, is it?.
A few days ago a well-known website encouraged it’s viewers to self harm and send pictures of that self harm in ‘protest’ to news of Justin Bieber smoking marijuana.
“let’s start a cut yourself for bieber campaign. Tweet a bunch a pics of people cutting themselves and claim we did it because bieber was smoking weed. See if we can get some little girls to cut themselves”
You can see a report of that (without images of self harm) here. Social media went mad, and images of young people, either showing their dripping wounds or showing fake wounds, flew around with ridiculous abandon.
I saw some of the images on Twitter and Facebook and was very sad… and angry. As well as the images, were the conversations that followed about people who self harm. This is what I found the hardest to take. Seemingly they are weak, attention seekers and from homes with poor parenting.
The problem with that is that it will have all been read by, not just Justin Bieber fans or people who know nothing of the harsh realities of self harm, It will also have been read by those struggling, trying to recover from self harm. They will all be like bees to a honey pot.
Often we know we would be better off to not look at something, but we do it anyway. For me it’s images of self harm (it takes me back to my own past of self harming as a way to cope). It is also images of people with anorexia (I don’t want to be that thin again but the reminder of the control I felt at the time is enticing). Images of pumped bodies in gyms, remind me of the hours and hours I spent trying to tone my body to what I thought would be ideal, all the while damaging my body.
We know we would be better off not to go there, but we can’t help ourselves sometimes. All the hashtags (which I’m purposely not including) which search the images freely for us. We get there, and then we feel judged and very alone. Just because the millions can search those images, does not mean they can, or even want to, understand the reality of self harm.
Self harm is not about sharing photos. It is so easy to share a photo now days, all too easy, and we end up with this crazy, constant stream of triggering images of which no one has any control. Self harm is also not some publicity stunt.
Self harm is a serious problem. While it’s not about suicide, there are unfortunate occasions when self harm ends in death. There are regularly serious consequences.
It’s really hard to beat self harm, for anyone. It’s an addiction for many people, and was for me. It takes years of battling urges and triggers, and finding effective ways that can distract you from the desire to harm.
It is a daily battle, even an hourly battle. It’s not about attention usually, and certainly not about some celebrity. If anything, sufferers try very hard to hide the scars of their harming. Actually the trying to hide is what gives the secret away often.
If anyone thinks self harm is a joke, let them try to give up a serious addiction, probably with little help. The people who are fighting to recover from self harm deserve our support, and our admiration for beating something so hard. It takes guts to beat this thing, something of which most people have no understanding.
They don’t need ridicule. Let’s give them our love, support and our acceptance.
“Other times, I look at my scars and see something else: a girl who was trying to cope with something horrible that she should never have had to live through at all. My scars show pain and suffering, but they also show my will to survive. They’re part of my history that’ll always be there.”
― Cheryl Rainfield, Scars
- Self Harm & Me (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- What Are The Scars All About? (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- A dangerous trend (selfharmsanctuary.wordpress.com)
- ‘Cut For Bieber’ campaign encourages Justin Bieber fans to cut themselves over marijuana allegations (mirror.co.uk)