eheadspace Group Chat
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Group Chat
Self harm and other ways of coping
July 15th 2018 @ 7pm AEST
We all have different ways of dealing with things. Sometimes we react to a problem the only way we know how, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best way to handle it. Developing good coping skills is about finding the strategy that works best for you. If you're struggling with self-harm, it's important that you get help and learn various ways of dealing with tough times.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:43 pm
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:43 pm
Clair eheadspace: Hi everyone and welcome to another group chat :) My name is Clair and tonight we will be talking about self harm and other way so coping.
This can be a difficult topic to talk about and people often manage these behaviours in secrecy because of fear of judgement. We hope tonight to dispel some myths, create more understanding and perhaps encourage some new ways of managing distressing thoughts and feelings.
We hope that this chat will answer some of your questions and you’ll feel better equipped to make choices that are good for your physical and mental health.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
23rd Oct, 10:56 am
Clair eheadspace: As usual a couple of things before we start:
*When you submit your question it won't appear straight away
*Our team will be busy reading and preparing an answer to your question before it's posted live - we appreciate your patience!
*If we can't publish anything we'll let you know (in a private message)
*It’s really helpful if you can identify yourself with your name, or an alias, as it means we can more easily recognise any follow up comments from you guys and make sure we’re answering the right person
*It’s also helpful if you can pop your age in your question, sometimes there are different resources for younger people or different support options available depending on your age
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
23rd Oct, 10:56 am
Emma eheadspace: Hi guys. Welcome to a chat topic that a lot of people find quite distressing...but this is super forum to get some super important questions out.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
23rd Oct, 10:56 am
Clair eheadspace: Tonight you’re chatting with eheadspace clinicians Linda, Emma, Rach and Katherine. We are also expecting a couple of young people from our headspace Youth National Reference Group (hY NRG) who are joining remotely so there may be times where there’s a delay in their response.
We’ve really enjoyed seeing you talking with each other in these chats, encouraging each other and being supportive – feel free to do that tonight too! You might have ideas that we don’t mention, or you may have experienced something similar and you can let us know how you coped with it.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:44 pm
Linda eheadspace: Hi there everyone, my name is Linda and looking forward to tonight's chat on what can be a challenging topic for some.
eheadspace Moderator
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27th Aug, 3:44 pm
RachR: Hey everyone, my name is Rach - thanks for joining us tonight. We hope you find it helpful
eheadspace Moderator
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27th Aug, 3:44 pm
Katherine eheadspace: Hi everyone! I'm Katherine. Thanks for joining us tonight. I hope you find the questions and responses of interest and benefit.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
23rd Oct, 10:51 am
Clair eheadspace: While you’re starting to think about and send through your questions, I thought it might be helpful to talk a little about self harm and other ways of coping and what we hope to be chatting about tonight.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
23rd Oct, 10:51 am
Clair eheadspace: Self harm can be defined as self-disfigurement or injury of a socially unaccepted nature. This may vary between cultures and regions but common ways that young people self harm are by cutting, burning, pinching, scratching and small over doses.
Self harm can sometimes provide short-term relief from overwhelming emotions, thoughts and memories that they may feel unable to express in other ways. Self harm can sometimes help with these in the short term, but the painful thoughts and feelings, usually return and the urge to self harm returns also. People who self harm do not usually do this for attention.
In reality many who self harm usually feel a lot of shame, guilt and self hatred because of the self harm, but these behaviours can become compulsive and the cycle can be hard to break. People who self harm are usually not trying to suicide, but can be at risk of accidental death. Repeated self harm can also lead to people feeling suicidal and hopeless.
Self harm can be reduced over time as people learn other ways to express themselves, or other ways of coping.
Participant
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27th Aug, 3:44 pm
Comment From Beth
Hi, thanks for holding this. :) This has been a really difficult subject for me
eheadspace Moderator
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27th Aug, 3:45 pm
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27th Aug, 3:45 pm
Comment From Zara
My best friend has started cutting herself. It is really freaking me out and just makes me feel soooo sad to see her skin. How can I get her to stop?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:48 pm
Emma eheadspace: Hi Zara, Thankyou so much for your question. I am sure there are a lot of people that are wondering the same thing and feel similarly to the way you do when they see people close to them engaging in this kind of behaviour. Self harming can be very confronting for loved one. Don’t be afraid to talk to your friend about it…studies show that most people want the subject raised even if react angrily or defensively…it acknowledges their emotional pain. Bringing it up will not cause your friend to self harm more so don’t worry that you can cause these behaviour. Maybe set aside some time to talk with your friend in a private. Try to communicate your concern in a caring and respectful manner… without judgement… it is likely that your friend already feels bad about this behaviour. And fully listen to the responses and concerns expressed by your friend….it’s super important that they feel heard and supported. Don’t promise to keep their behaviour a secret…even if they ask you to. Let them know it is your concern that stops you from being about to make this promise. Keeping it a secret will not be helpful for you or for your friend. Share your concerns about your friend with a supportive adult…a parent, counsellor or teacher… Sharing your concern will enable your friend to get the supports that she needs to manage the emotions causing this behaviour and help her to develop positive skills in managing her feelings. Zara, you are doing a great job looking out for your friend…keep this going and remember to look after yourself as well. Take care Zara.
Participant
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27th Aug, 3:48 pm
Comment From Grace A
how many kids around the age of 12 are self harming, at my school i couldn't find anyone who really felt what was happening but i know there are other people. so i would like to know how many other kids are self harming, statistically.
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27th Aug, 3:48 pm
Comment From Grace A
thanks linda
eheadspace Moderator
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27th Aug, 3:48 pm
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27th Aug, 3:48 pm
Comment From Juliet
I use to cut my arms and legs when things were getting on top of me emotionally. I still sometimes think of it but I don’t do it anymore but am really conscious of my scars and want to people to actually trust me that I won’t do it again. How can I prove to people that this is in the past?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:48 pm
Katherine eheadspace: Hi Juliet.
It is great to hear that you have found other ways to cope with your emotions and manage this with some positive skills. This is great to hear, to show other people it really is possible and doesn’t have to stay this way. I can understand that it is frustrating for you that your loved ones have some doubt about your ability to manage moving forward.
The key word here is “loved” ones…these fears for those around you no doubt come from the fact that they care so much about your well-being. As frustrating as it may feel for you try to be patient with them…while you maybe feeling confident about your ability to manage, they may still be building this confidence.
It may take some time. It might also be helpful for you to openly communicate about your feelings, where that feels comfortable and chat through some of the new and more effective ways that you cope.
Participant
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27th Aug, 3:48 pm
Comment From Beth
This is something I've been dealing with (mostly by myself) for the last nearly 8 years. I'm 21 now and have only recently opened up about this to my parents
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:49 pm
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:49 pm
Emma eheadspace: Hi Beth. I’m so sorry that you have been dealing with this for so long by yourself. It is great that you have found the strength to open up about his a little with your parents….it’s super brave of you. You should be proud. Opening up and getting support from those around you, both personally and professionally can make a huge difference to how you feel. At the time when you start to feel that you can open up a little and ask for support, is a time when you can really start to develop some more positive skills for managing the feelings that lead you to self harm. Beth, keep up with the positive direction.
Participant
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27th Aug, 3:49 pm
Comment From Beth
This is something I've been dealing with (mostly by myself) for the last nearly 8 years. I'm 21 now and have only recently opened up about this to my parents
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:49 pm
Linda eheadspace: Crisco I know how super hard it is when someone asks you to keep something private when it does not sit comfortably with you. I guess that fact that it doesn’t feel comfortable is a good indicator that there are valid reasons for not wanting it to be a secret. Maybe try to let your brother know what these concerns are and encourage him to talk to someone supportive about it. It may not need to be your parents. It could be a teacher or school counsellor and another relative. If he is not comfortable in doing this I would suggest that it is in your brothers best interest that you do let someone else know even though he has asked you not to. You could ask the person you speak to be discrete about how they approach your brother because of how he is feelings about being exposed. Crisco I know this feels like a really hard place to be positioned, I guess I would ask what is in the best interest of your brothers physical and mental well-being. And yes he may get a little angry or upset with you, but I think in time he will be able to see that is was for his wellbeing that you have broken this confidence.
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27th Aug, 3:50 pm
Comment From Kate
why do other see slef harm as bad
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:50 pm
RachR: Thanks for the question Kate.
There are a lot of negative misconceptions when it comes to self-harm like self-harm is a suicide attempt or people who self-harm are crazy or attention seeking. There’s been a lot of mis-reporting in the media which hasn’t helped this.
Because it’s not widely understood by society it can feel stigmatized and difficult to talk about. I guess there is also the reality that inflicting injury on ourselves is a risky behaviour as we can really hurt ourselves.
Self harm is one of those things that while it might make you feel better in the short term, it doesn't really address the underlying problem of what is going on for us and the cycle continues.
What we need to talk about more is there are a wide number of reasons that people injure themselves and that there is lots of help available to develop alternative coping strategies. The more we’re able to talk about self-harm the less people will feel ashamed and criticized – and the more open they’ll be to getting support.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:50 pm
Participant
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27th Aug, 3:50 pm
Comment From Beth
How do I go about explaining my scars to my partner? I don't particularly want to call it an 'addiction', but I feel that is the closest way of laying it out to him.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:51 pm
Emma eheadspace: Beth, telling your partner about your history and or current behaviour is completely up to you. Maybe try writing your thoughts down to work out what it is that you want them to know. People have allsorts of interpretations and misinterpretations about self harming behavior, so it could be important for you to articulate it in the way you would like them to see and understand that behavior in the future. I think it is super important to note that you as a person are about so much more than just this topic, and I feel like this could be a really important part of the topic. Beth talking to others and the way you do that is your decision…you need only talk about what you feel comfortable with at this time within the relationship. Beth, maybe keep in mind that people can have all different responses and that your partner may not know how to handle the topic straight away…maybe give your partner a little time and also give them some clues as to how to best support you, if this is what you are needing. Good luck Beth…
eheadspace Moderator
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27th Aug, 3:51 pm
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27th Aug, 3:51 pm
Comment From Grace A
just another question, i know that i should tell my friends about this but i'm am worried how to bring it up. i don't know what they will think about what i use to do to myself. i want to know how to tell them. i think they know somethings going on but i can't bring myself to tell them. i don't really want to bring other 12 year olds into this.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:51 pm
Linda eheadspace: Hey Grace,
I guess your friends might have twigged that something is wrong and there is a lot of benefit in sharing what troubles you with your friends. It sounds to me that you used to harm and you no longer harm yourself from what you have said, well done you that is great to hear.
I wonder if it is that important for them to know that you used to harm yourself, unless of course you might find it helpful to self disclose is you are trying to support someone else who is having thoughts of harming themselves.
I think you are right when you say you don't really want to ring other 12 year olds into this, sometimes our friends are not ready for that kind of information, and might not know what to do with the information.
You might want to consider what the purpose of them knowing would be? This might help you make your decision on whether you tell them or not.
Important people to know is your parents Grace, as they can help you sort out what it is that has triggered you or help you figure out what to do when things are really difficult to cope with, and if they cant they can help you get to a professional that can help.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:52 pm
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27th Aug, 3:53 pm
Comment From Mei
My counsellor has talked heaps about strategies to manage my distress, when we discuss these options they make sense at the time but to be honest later at home when I am feeling really distressed I forget what he recommended and I can’t even think clearly. Help!
eheadspace Moderator
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27th Aug, 3:53 pm
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27th Aug, 3:53 pm
Comment From Tiarna
I have been having lots of issues and with that I started self harming, I'm now seeing people to try and help, I'm finding it extremely difficult not to self harm, I have tried other things like using a marker or rubber band but I doesn't work. I have support in place but I feel like I'm not getting anywhere and my breakdowns aren't getting better.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:53 pm
Katherine eheadspace: Welcome Tiarna! Thank you for sharing your experience with us, I’m sorry to hear you are feeling like you aren’t getting anywhere… that would feel really tough!
First, I think it’s great that you’re supported and engaged with a professional (by the sounds of it?). It is important to remember that seeing a positive change can take some time. I encourage you to continue doing your best and to keep on keeping on – as things can get better with some support and time. It’s important to let your support network (mental health clinician, parents, trusted adults, etc.) how you’re travelling and how they can best help you.
Some people do find techniques like using a rubber band or holding ice cubes to be useful, while others don’t. It’s helpful to keep trying new strategies and ideas, and it’s also okay to disregard any that you find aren’t so helpful.
Some other things you might like to consider are:
** Phone apps like Calm Harm or My Calm Beat
** Being in the company of others or telling someone what’s going on for you
** Contacting an online or telephone support service such as eheadspace, kids help line, lifeline or beyond blue (I’ll include the phone numbers below)
** Journal or writing down your thoughts
** Distraction activities – listening to music, watching tv, or a movie.
It’s helpful to write a list of all the strategies and activities you can try, and when you’re experiencing a break down or your mind and thoughts aren’t clear, you can refer to the list to see all the options you’ve come up with. You can even rank which ones tend to work best for you. Have a look at the linked shared in response to Mei’s question just before.
**Telephone Support Services
Eheadspace 1800 650 890
Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800
Life Line 13 11 14
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Take care of yourself, okay?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:53 pm
Participant
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27th Aug, 3:53 pm
Comment From Fi
I’ve been self-harming for a while now, and my parents don’t know. They are supportive but I don’t think they would understand. I think Mum doesn’t really get why people would hurt themselves. Should I tell them?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:54 pm
Clair eheadspace: Hey Fi.
Thanks for your question. I get that it can feel super hard to tell your parents about self-harm, it’s often a tricky and sensitive topic to bring up. It’s great to hear that your parents are supportive Fi, it sounds like they would really want to try to understand and help you.
Here’s a few options to think about.…
- It could be really helpful to have someone to support you to let your parents know what’s going. If you have talked to anyone else about how you’re feeling and your self-harm, like a teacher, a school counsellor or a psychologist/clinician. Perhaps they can support you in letting your parents know what’s going on for you. They are usually pretty skilled in being able to do this!
- You could also consider writing a letter to your parents. Writing a letter can be a really effective way of communicating your thoughts, feelings and needs. It gives you the time to think about what you want to say and it also gives the reader (your parents in this case) the time to read, process and respond in a helpful way to you.
- You don’t necessarily have to send, or give, them the letter without you being there, you could use it as like a script and read it out to them.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:54 pm
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27th Aug, 3:54 pm
Comment From Deanne
Thank you for this session. How can I support a 14 year old who has experienced trauma, and now self harms.
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27th Aug, 3:54 pm
Comment From Kate
can you give subtle hints to someone that you need help without saying it out straight
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27th Aug, 3:54 pm
Comment From Kate
what happens when there is no one you can talk to?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:55 pm
RachR: Another really great question Kate.
It can be really hard admitting to ourselves and others that we’re not coping and need some help. It’s difficult to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and it’s scary not knowing how someone will react. Self-harm in particular is such a private behaviour, it can feel incredibly personal to talk about.
While we may think that we’re hiding how we’re feeling really well – it is pretty common for people close to us to notice a change in us. The people who love you will be relieved that you felt able to be honest with them, especially if they’ve noticed a change in you – self-harm can create an emotional distance between you and others.
It helps to plan out what it is you’re wanting to share, who with, where do you want to share it – think about a backup plan in case you feel you don’t get the reaction you were hoping for. You might find it useful to role play the conversation in your head first – this will minimize the possibility of your sharing too much too soon and feeling exposed. It’s okay to have boundaries you can say things like ‘I don’t feel comfortable answering that,’
In terms of subtle hints you could just open the conversation up with something broad like; ‘I haven’t been feeling great lately,’ or ‘I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed.’ You don’t have to disclose everything right away, but starting the conversation is really important. If talking feels too overwhelming, you could write a letter – give yourself time to say exactly what you want; and the reader time to process their reaction.
I know sometimes it can feel really isolating – but there is always help available.
If you’re at school or uni – consider the counsellor there. Is there a teacher or tutor you could reach out too?
If you’re nervous about the prospect of face to face communication try an online or telephone service like Kids help line 1800 55 1800, Lifeline 13 11 14, eheadspace 1800 650 890
Participant
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27th Aug, 3:55 pm
Comment From Grace A
just something the helps with my personal experiences i made this playlist on spotify of music that helps me calm down. when the times get extreme it help you not to focus on it. it helps me any. this is just some tip that i picked up. music that is already their not having to search for it. it's sort of a second part to how you guys are saying listen to music.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:55 pm
Linda eheadspace: That is a brilliant strategy Grace, and you are so right about having something on hand that is easy to access when your feeling overwhelmed with the urge to self harm.
Using our senses - sight, sound, taste, touch and smell - to soothe our emotions is really good. Find the things that you enjoy or find soothing using your senses and either keep a box with the things you find helpful in it, and access this when you are overwhelmed and struggling to think of things to help. You make little cards with reminders for it on listening o your play list, or make a new playlist, or something like a nice smelling warm bath, some examples of using the senses.
eheadspace Moderator
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27th Aug, 3:55 pm
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27th Aug, 3:56 pm
Comment From Kasun
Does self-harming mean you want to end your life?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
23rd Oct, 11:04 am
Katherine eheadspace: Hi there Kasun. Thanks for joining us tonight.
Most people who self-harm do it as a way of coping with overwhelming and distressing feelings, rather than the intention to end their life. We do know, however, that there is an increased risk of suicide in people who deliberately hurt themselves. Regardless of the reason, it is important to find helpful strategies to use instead of harming oneself and to get some additional support during a tough time. Kasun, have a look at these resources:
**Reach Out: Self Help for Self Harm - https://au.reachout.com/articles/self-help-for-self-harm
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27th Aug, 3:56 pm
Comment From Joeley
HI, I have been struggling with self harm for a year now and I found its become more addicting and I wish It didn't get to this point. My friends have noticed the scars getting bigger and bigger but they won't bring it up so how can I talk to them about it and let them know whats going on without them judging me
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:56 pm
Emma eheadspace: Hey Joeley. Thanks for your question. I’m sorry that you haven’t felt that you can talk with your friends before now…. I know it can feel isolating but it doesn’t need to always feel this way…in fact you can access a great deal of support. Don’t take your friends not asking you about your scars as them not caring. It is most likely the opposite, that they are super worried but don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable. Loved ones are often terrified that they will make things worse. Maybe choose one or two friends that you are close with and that you trust to start the conversation. You may need to explain to them what you feel and how self harming helps you. It can also be helpful to tell your friends what it is that you wanting from them. True friends will not judge you…their overriding feelings will be about concern and worry and hoping to be able to help you find more positive ways of managing your feelings. If you sense any judgement at tall this will no doubt be because they just do not understand self harming. Joeley, if you can avoid asking your friends to keep your self harming secret… this can be highly concerning for friends and they can really struggle with the idea of breaking your confidence at the same time as wanting to help you to find the support you need. I know it might feel scary for you to start opening up like this but take it one step at a time. I would also suggest that you speak with a trusted adult if you have not as yet…maybe a teacher, school counsellor or your parents…it is these people that can help you to get the supports that you need to develop new and more positive strategies that do not pose any risk. Joeley Take Care.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:56 pm
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27th Aug, 3:57 pm
Comment From Tiarna
Another question, I have been having issues with my group and only a couple of them know about my self harming, I'm worried that there going to treat me differently because I have self harmed and exclude me. But I also want to be able to educate them and to be able to help them though there tough times, any advice or tips that I can give to them.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:57 pm
Katherine eheadspace: Yeah I understand where you’re coming from Tiarna, I hear your concern...
If you are feeling like you are being treated differently, it may well be because your friends aren’t aware how to best support you, particularly through tough times. So, you’re right - as you’ve mentioned, it is best to be really open with them and let them know what’s going on for you and how they can help. For example, you might let them know that you’re travelling okay, you’re supported by a mental health clinician, a school counsellor and/or your family (whoever your network is) and explain what kind of things cause and contribute to your distressing feelings. Remember - you don’t have to share everything, but sharing a little bit to your close friends might be helpful. Then, importantly, you can let them know one thing that is helpful for them to do, that might be something simple like “if you see I’m feeling a bit down, or not quite myself, I feel better when you check in with me / ask how I am”, or let them know that you are grateful they are supporting you but you want thing to go on as normal and not to be treated any differently!
I think it’s perfectly fine if only a few close friends know in more detail what’s going on for you, it’s certainly not something everyone has to be aware of.
This is something you can probably talk more about with your mental health clinician in person, they’ll have some really great ideas I’m sure!
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27th Aug, 3:57 pm
Comment From Freya
I sometimes cut myself but don’t’ talk to my counsellor about it because I don’t want it to be the whole focus of our sessions. I have other stuff I want to talk about…but think she will want to talk about it. Do you think I should still tell her?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:57 pm
Emma eheadspace: Hey Freya,
Thanks for sharing.
I can understand your concern; it can be hard when issues involving risk arise as they can tend to eat up a lot of session time. That being said it is often related to why we’re going to see a counsellor in the first place. Your counsellor might ask you how you’ve been dealing with your mental health concerns. This could be an opportunity to tell her that you’ve been using cutting as a coping strategy. From there she might suggest a few alternative strategies you might like to try or talk to you a bit about what you can do when the urges to self-harm emerge.
The best thing to do is be honest! If you have things you want to prioritise in your sessions tell your counsellor – it is your time. Explain that while you’re happy to disclose your self-harm, it’s not what you want to talk about the whole session.
Being as open and genuine as you can in therapy is the best way to get the help you need.
eheadspace Moderator
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27th Aug, 3:57 pm
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27th Aug, 3:58 pm
Comment From Guest
My mum read my journal and found out I was harming so when she asked I lied and said it was my friends notebook. Now my mum won’t let me see that friend and I’m scared to tell her it is me because she’s so overreacted when she though it was my friend what will she do if she knows it’s me! What should I do? I’m scared she will tell my friends Mum
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:58 pm
Linda eheadspace: Hey there Guest, I am really sorry to hear that mums reaction did not feel supportive.
I think that parents freak out a bit, and sometimes a lot. This is often from a place of fear and worry, but also a lack of understanding of what causes young people to self harm.
I do think your mum would prefer to know than not know, and it might be best option to tell her so that your friends mother is not told something that isn't true.
Maybe start the conversation with what it is that you are finding difficult that contributes to the self harm, and progress the conversation from there. It might be helpful to have some dot points ready of what you want to say. You might find it helpful to write a letter to mum first and that way you say all you want to say and then you can have a conversation.
Have you got a school counsellor? This is someone who can help you practice the conversation and support you in doing so.
You might want to take the opportunity to ask mum to help you in getting some help to learn new ways to cope which will be something that may help her feel less stressed and worried.
You might want to look at where you have the conversation, maybe invite out for a coffee, or make a time to chat, try to find a time when mum is not busy with something else.
Oncer you have had this chat with mum hopefully you and your friend can hang out together again and you wont be stressed over their mum getting a call from yours.
eheadspace Moderator
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27th Aug, 3:58 pm
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27th Aug, 3:59 pm
Comment From Xavier
My little sister who is only 12 picks her skin really badly…like it bleeds a lot and is quite scarred. Is this self harming? What can I do to stop her from doing this?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 3:59 pm
Emma eheadspace: Hi Xavier,
Great question.
It sounds like you’re really concerned for your sisters wellbeing and understandably so. I can imagine it would be really upsetting to see her hurting herself like that. It’s difficult to say why your sister is picking her skin – it could very well be a form of self-harm, it could also potentially be a physical issue or nervous tick.
The first thing I would do is try and do is talk to your sister about it. Ask her if she is okay. Tell her you’ve noticed that she is hurting herself and that you’re worried about her and want to support her. If she does disclose that she is self-harming be careful to respond calmly and without judgement. If someone is self-harming their usually quite sensitive to criticism. Tell her she is not alone and that there is lots of help available. Perhaps you could show her some of these resources:
Most of all encourage her to get some help – could you help her talk to your parents about it, or a teacher or the school counsellor. Knowing she has your support might make it feel a little less scary getting help. This article has some good information on supporting someone if you wanted to have a look:
I really hope things with your sister improve soon Xavier – she’s lucky to have a brother like you looking out for her.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 4:00 pm
Linda eheadspace: I just want to add a few comments on managing the urges of self harm -
Firstly recognising the beginning of an urge to hurt yourself is important and sometimes writing a journal about how you feel can help you identify what the triggers are or what you are feeling inside when these impulses or urges start. And this is a good time to implement some of the following suggestions that you might want to try in riding the wave of the urge to hurt yourself. I recognise that an urge is difficult to manage, and they can cause a lot of extreme discomfort, but what we do know is that the urge will pass, given time it will pass but only if you choose not to act on it. Each time you resist an urge you are empowering yourself bit by bit, making yourself a bit stronger in managing the urges or impulses.
Some of the strategies you can use are:
- Think about another time when you have felt this way and what you did to cope. Can you do the same thing now?
- Think or write about the last time you felt a little better than you do at this time.
- Stay focused on the present, worrying about what happened previously or what will happen in the future can get really overwhelming. You can do this by breaking up your day and planning a short activity that will distract you, and once you have finished an activity start planning the next one kind of thing.
- Activities to distract and occupy yourself might be: listening to music and this can help improve your mood too (maybe listen to music that is not too intense so it can help in relaxing you a little bit as well); having a warm bath or shower; sitting outside or going for a short walk; watching a favourite movie or television programme; drawing/sketching or painting; writing; taking some time out to treat yourself to a small thing you normally enjoy and take the time to savour it; look at doing some puzzles or online games.
Participant
Participant
27th Aug, 4:00 pm
Comment From Celeste
How can I get over self harm if it is an addiction?
Participant
Participant
27th Aug, 4:00 pm
Comment From Celeste
What if self harming is an addiction
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 4:01 pm
RachR: That’s a good thing you bring up Celeste.
Like many maladaptive coping strategies things that make us feel better in the short term can be addictive. This is why we have things like alcoholism, drug addiction etc… these strategies help us regulate our emotions initially but can leave us with lasting damage (like lifetime scars, injuries etc)…
Something that really helps with addiction is to start trying using more healthy coping strategies to try and regulate our emotions. Things like exercising, talking with a friend, writing, meditating are all really positive coping strategies you can try.
3 tips for regulating your emotions are
• Taking care of your physical needs – getting enough rest, eating well and exercising can help not only boost our mood naturally but help change our perspective on life
• Do activities that build a sense of achievement – try and do one positive thing a day that you can feel proud of. We never give ourselves any credit for any of the good things we do – but reflecting on these is so important to boost our self-image. Reflecting on things we’re grateful for is also really beneficial to improving our mental health - https://au.reachout.com/articles/the-how-and-why-of-practising-gratitude
• Changing your thoughts – it’s hard to change how we’re feeling when we experience a situation – but if you can evaluate what you’re thinking you give yourself opportunity to change the way you think it can help improve your emotional reaction (this link has some good info:
All these things are much easier done with the help of someone else. Having some outside perspective on the situation really helps us process what is going on and work through solutions. You might consider popping into a Headspace centre. They have youth friendly clinicians who you can book an appointment with. You will need a Mental Health Care Plan which you can get from your GP - this entitles you to 10 free or low cost sessions.
Here is a link to find your closest centre:
Remember that addiction isn’t easy to overcome. It takes time and setbacks happen. Try not to be too punishing on yourself. If you’re able to reduce the amount you self-harm – that’s great! Celebrate that, rather than dwell on fact that you’re still self-harming. It’s a long road, but with support – you’ll get there!
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 4:01 pm
Participant
Participant
27th Aug, 4:01 pm
Comment From Joeley
what if I try talk to a young adult but they think im attention seeking because I cut and have suicidal thoughts
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 4:01 pm
Linda eheadspace: Hey Joely,
Good question, I think sometimes when we try to talk to people in our lives that we know, they actually are not equipped to know how o best hep and might have some misunderstandings about self harm.
So I would be encouraging you to check in with professional help for the main support in learning ways to cope and manage the urges of self harm and suicidal thoughts. Your professional help can then also work with you on safety plans and who is the best and most helpful people in your life to include in that plan.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
27th Aug, 4:02 pm
Clair eheadspace: Thank you for joining us to chat about self harm and other ways of coping tonight - we hope you’ve found the session helpful and you‘ve learnt some new skills that may help you manage painful thoughts or feelings in a more helpful way. or ways top help a friend or family member.
Hopefully what we’ve talked about in this chat has provided you with some useful information that you can consider managing distressing thoughts and feelings, but remember if you need more support with this it’s ok to ask for it!
You can contact you GP, eheadspace, your school/uni counsellors and if you’re wanting some support from a private psychologist you can contact your local headspace centre. To find your closest headspace centre you can use this link - https://headspace.org.au/headspace-centres/
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
23rd Oct, 11:06 am
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
23rd Oct, 11:07 am

Katherine eheadspace: Hi Mei.
Thanks for sharing your experience with us tonight, I’m glad you’ve brought this one up! I totally get where you’re coming from, it can be really hard to think clearly, remember and put into practice all the strategies suggested by others, including your counsellor.
It can be really helpful to make a list of all your strategies and ideas, place it in a handy spot to be able to look at easily when you’re feeling distressed. You may like to have the list on a piece of paper or on your phone – maybe even both!
Distraction activities can also be helpful to consider, you may like to have a look at this list for some ideas that will work for you -
(Go to Information sheets - Fun Activity Catalogue)
Take care of yourself, Mei!
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
23rd Oct, 11:07 am
Emma eheadspace: Thanks guys. Awesome chat. Thanks so much for all your participation. Take care. Emma
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
23rd Oct, 11:06 am
RachR: Thanks so much for joining us everyone and sharing your experiences and concerns. It's been a really great discussion thanks to all of you.
Take care and have a good night :)
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
23rd Oct, 11:06 am
Linda eheadspace: There has been some great comments and questions - thanks to everyone that checked out the chat tonight.
Good night from me.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
23rd Oct, 11:06 am
Katherine eheadspace: Bye everyone, thanks so much for joining us tonight, for sharing your experiences and posing your questions.
Take care of yourselves, okay?
Bye for now!
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
23rd Oct, 11:06 am