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If you’ve never self-harmed, you probably can’t understand why anyone would do such a thing. The notion of inflicting physical pain on oneself can seem illogical and terrifying. However, self-harm can often travel with dissociation symptoms. This means the person who self-injures might feel physically numb or have no recollection of the event.
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Kim Berkley
Hi Ebony,

Thank you for sharing this story. I think your way of choosing to explain your self-harm is beautiful and gentle, and I am glad that you have found a way to share this truth with your brother and with other younger folk without overwhelming or frightening them. I hope others can take some inspiration and hope from your post!

Take care,
Kim Berkley
Hi Nita,

I'm sorry to hear things have been so difficult. Self-harm, regardless of your reasons for it or the circumstances surrounding it, is always a challenge to cope with, both for the person who is harming themselves and for those who know about it. And I can't imagine it was easy to share your story, either--but I'm glad you're still here to do so. I want to share a few things with you in return.

First, know that self-harm comes in many forms. Many people do self-harm for attention, but whether you do or not does not qualify or disqualify you as a person who self-harms. Likewise, wearing short sleeves does not make hurting yourself more or less severe of a problem. Depression can often be a cause or trigger for self-harm, but not everyone who self-harms is depressed. If you hurt yourself, and especially if you hurt yourself repeatedly, then that is self-harm. This may be difficult for others to understand, especially people who do not hurt themselves, but I think it is important for you to understand.

That leads me to my second point. I am not a trained clinician, nor am I a mind-reader, so I can't pretend to know the reasons behind your mother's and brother's responses to your struggle. However, I do want to put it out there that people cope with difficulty in different ways. It may be challenging for them to accept that you self-harm, and this difficulty may cause them to react in ways that may be confusing and/or hurtful. These reactions, however, don't necessarily mean that they don't care. Often, it means the opposite.

Finally, while this may not be what you want to hear, I do strongly encourage you to find someone neutral to talk to about this issue. Self-harm can be difficult in and of itself, but you also seem to be struggling with negative self-talk as well as strained relationships with your family. Talking to someone like a counselor or therapist will not only give you someone you can vent to without fear of judgment or harsh responses, but also the opportunity to explore your real reasons for self-harming--whatever they may be. A trained clinician can also help you find other, healthier alternatives for coping with these reasons--and with how others may react to your self-harm or your recovery.

If you're not sure how to get in touch with a therapist or someone else who can help, and especially if you're not sure how your family will react to you seeking any kind of counseling, try talking to a counselor at school or work (if one is available to you) or try calling a hotline. There are even some services that allow you to text, email, or instant message if you're not comfortable talking on the phone.

There is absolutely no shame in asking for help. After all, if you have a serious physical illness, you go to a doctor or a hospital, right? Your mental health is just as important.

Here are some resources on our own website you can use as a jumping-off point for understanding more about self-harm and finding help when you're ready:

If you have more questions, thoughts, or concerns you'd like to share here, feel free to do so. I am always happy to help in any way I can.

I am 16 and I fight with my family 24/7. It's my fault, I know it is, but I get so hurt and stuff that I cut myself. I've downed pills before, two or three times, but each time I failed. My brother writes on the chalkboard that I'm an incompetent waste of oxygen and a bitch-which is true, I am a bitch, but It still hurts. My mom found out I was cutting and said I was doing it for attention and it was mean to do that while people out there with that disease were actually doing it for a reason because they had that disease. And she says that I wear short sleeves all the time anyway not long sleeves like the actual people do, and I'm like whatever, not like you'd care, and I don't at school because why would I? I tried like 2 and my friend was like "What's wrong with your arms" and I was like, "NOTHING!" I don't know what's real, am I doing it for attention? I'm writing this, so then I am doing this for attention? I DON"T KNOW!!! I haven't been depressed recently either so i don't know.
Haley, I certainly hope you are coping with your problem. I have the same things happen to me and I tell myself that I'm moving from one parallel dimension to another. It's just been the two that I've noticed but I've been keeping a small notebook and noting the date and time I am doing things. This helps me to not worry so much about it since I too have no insurance. Hang in there.
Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez
Hi Liz,

That does not sound silly at all! This is an excellent suggestion; thank you for sharing!

All the best,