All around us people are suffering from a mental health illness. Maybe we, ourselves, are the ones struggling.
Mental health can be an enigma because it often can’t be seen by those around us. If you have a broken arm in a hot-pink cast, everyone knows that you are injured. If you are an amputee, there would be few around you who wouldn’t notice. Mental health is just that…mental. It resides within the brain, within the body, enclosed in that mighty exterior that we present to the word.
It can be hard for someone to understand why you are too anxious to leave the house without checking that the door is locked fifteen times; or why you are so depressed you literally can’t get out of bed; or why you would take a sharp object to your skin and wound yourself.
This latter example is called self-harm, self-injury, self-mutilation; often called, simply, cutting.
Estimates show that around two million people intentionally harm themselves in some way (http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/self-injury). This could be by cutting one’s skin with a razor blade or burning oneself with a lighter or matches. There are multiple ways this can be done.
But why would someone self-harm? There are many reasons and everyone has their own story. Typically, though, someone self-harms to ease pain, to feel control, to feel pain when the world has forced them to become numb because it is just too much to handle.
Rowan Slone, the main character in the Rowan Slone series-A Life, Redefined and A Life, Forward-self-harms. Her home life is so dysfunctional, violent and woven with such intense grief, pain and distress, she uses her father’s old razor blade to carve lines into her arm. When she does this, she feels a release of her inner pain.
Rowan is a fictional character but self-harm and those who do it (and the reasons they do it) are not.
If you or someone you know self-harms, there is help and there is always hope. There is a movement called The Butterfly Project that helps those who self-harm find other ways of coping. http://insteadofcutting.tumblr.com/thebutterflyproject. Visit this website for the rules of the project.
And reach out to someone. It has been my experience that the world is brimming with kind-hearted, understanding, compassionate people. We just have to find them and maybe, just maybe, we can receive the love, care and attention we need.
La vie est belle.