Self-Injury: An Emotional Response to Stressful Situations

February 4, 2010 Amanda_HP

Our guest, Christie, on how she began self-injuring, how she used self-injury to respond to emotional situations, tools she uses to reduce urges to self-injure.

I began self-injuring at age 13, after I felt like I wasn't understood by anyone and fell into a deep depression (What Is Self-Harm, Self-Injury?). Fights with my parents, having a hard time with school, and general anxiety prompted me to self-injure for the first time, because I felt like it calmed my nerves and alleviated my anger almost instantly. From there, I began using self-injury to respond to almost every emotional situation - be it sad, angry, disappointed, depressed, or general thoughts of self-loathing and body image. I felt like it numbed all of my emotional reactions and I began to depend on it.

christie-self-injury-guestChristie, guest on the February 10, 2010 show on self-injury, wrote this post for HealthyPlace.

I have been diagnosed by mental health professionals with dysthymic disorder (chronic depression), social anxiety, borderline personality disorder, self-Injury (non-suicidal) and EDNOS (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified). I was not formally given a psychiatric evaluation until 4 years ago. (Common Characteristics of the Self-Injurer)

The Effects of Self-Injury on My Life

Self-injury has impacted my life in many ways. Due to self-injuring so often during my formative teen years, I never fully learned how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way, and because of that it stunted my personal growth and understanding of my own feelings, and it also affected the way I created personal relationship. Because instead of dealing with the outside world I shoved it all back with self-injury and covered up anything remotely uncomfortable. I think this directly contributed to my social anxiety issues and made my underlying depression worse.

My family members and friends have had mixed reactions to my self-injury. I did not reveal my self-injury behaviors to my parents until I was 17, although they may have had their suspicions. Their reaction was guilt, thinking they could have caused it in some way. Generally, my parents do not talk about self-injury, and like to push it under the rug because if it's not talked about or recognized, it seems like it doesn't exist. However, they are accepting of my behaviors.

My extended family only have very vague limited knowledge of self-injury and my history. My friends all are aware of it, some of them engage in self-injury behaviors as well, and the ones who don't have known me for 10+ years and are accepting. However, acquaintances are very judgmental so, generally, no one talks about it and I hide it at social events and in public.

I have been able to drastically reduce my urges to self-injure over the past 3-4 years by learning to talk and write about my feelings. In this way, I have become more in touch with the way things make me FEEL, and it is the first time in my life I have allowed myself to experience real emotions, and even cry and let myself be upset.

YouTube has been a huge outlet for me, allowing me to talk to people who understand where I am coming from instead of heading straight for a razor every time I am upset. I am also passionate about writing, so when I get urges to self-injure, I write anything from self-injury urge logs, to blogs, journal entries, songs, poetry or work on one of my novels-in-progress.

I feel that being open to your emotions and getting to the real reasons behind your triggers is the ONLY way to deal with the urges and reduce/stop them.

APA Reference
Amanda_HP (2010, February 4). Self-Injury: An Emotional Response to Stressful Situations, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Amanda_HP

February, 11 2010 at 1:36 pm

thank you so much for sharing. you have, and continue to help so many with your openness and honesty about the struggles so many of us face. its so easy to believe that your alone - the only one who feels like you do. but you have given me hope through your website, youtube videos, and private encouragement. i cant thank you enough.

February, 9 2010 at 6:47 pm

I'm positive there is someone 'out there' who has similar experiences to you. No-one is really that unique after all! I've read research of people in their 50s and 60s who self-injure, although some started in teenage years. I think that young people just dominate online discussions because they were the ones who started talking about it on here and made a lot of the support sites and now any older people who happen to come on the internet & also SI don't feel they belong in that group and so don't talk about it. I hope that you manage to find somebody you can talk to, though. Good luck in your effort to stop :)

February, 9 2010 at 8:24 am

Just Tuesday ... the TV forum tomorrow. But am hoping someone will read this and add to the discussion. I have found _nothing_ on self-injurers who are 60+ -- and have not started in adolescence. I appreciated your post ... and do a lot of the processes you use in dealing with self injury -- including attending DBT sessions. My SI has subsided considerably in the last several months ... but still looms when my meds are off, I am under a lot of stress, etc. etc. Would like to know if anyone out there is in an older age bracket who deals with this struggle...

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