Posted in Did you know?

Misunderstanding of Self-Injury

I have not been on my soapbox in a long time…guess it’s that time again…It really irks me to see how certain mental health conditions are NOT taken seriously and if they are, too often the are bunched up into other labels that probably scare furture patients from getting treatment.

girl in hoodie alone in the darkI hear it often…a person admits to self-injury and some professionals are thinking in their head already, “Hmmm, sounds like borderline personailty disorder.”  Why?  If the youth or teen gets the proper help and counselling early on, it won’t multiply into other complicated lables the system gives.  But if you want to get into the system, perhaps you need to qualify only IF you have certain conditions.  Who the heck makes these assumptions and these rules?!!!

What is happening with our mental health care system?  I hear from youths on a daily basis who suffer some form of self-injury.  Thank goodness my place of work has an anonymous line because youths and teens have such difficulty in getting support, compassionate counselling and are constantly stigmatized by their peers at school, educators and by the medical system.

A teen will get to their closest ER and if it is the first or second time they are consulting they may get some empathy but many times when they need to treat some wounds, the body language of some professionals show disdain and impatience.  Why?  Because they are not equipped to help.  Because too many are not equipped or skilled to help these persons who want to stop self-harming but are not getting the support they need.

Now I am not saying all medical professionals are impatient.  I know of nurses who explain to some youths how to take care of their wounds to prevent infection.  How to clean it properly and what not to do and what to do.  Those nurse are Florence Nightingales!! They are trying to prevent their patients from more serious injuries.  They get it!  And they must feel just as powerless and bound by the “system” because these persons are not getting the proper mental health care they deserve.

After listening to this video, I heard psychiatrists admitting how we are doing so poorly in helping persons suffering with this condition.  As one psychiatrist said, if they did not have a diagnosis before the got into the system, by the time they are in it…they will have so many labels, it is enough to make any one go insane!

Talking about it is important.  Keeping the silence because it makes people uncomfortable is NOT okay.  Keeping the silence because we are afraid it will be contagious and give other youths and teens ideas is like saying sex education will make youths have sex way too early.

Not long ago we could not even talk about suicide in case it gave ideas to other persons related or close to a person who committed suicide.  Talking about any form of mental health is part of the solution not part of the problem.

I hope this video enlightens you as much as it did me…

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, May 1, 2013



A little bit about moi: I am a mom, a nana, a sister, a woman, a friend, a human being…a youth counsellor, Family Life Educator. I have been working in the helping profession for over 25 years and volunteered in various capacities from youths to seniors. Tournesol is my nom de plume for haiku and other Japanese form poetry here at Tournesoldansunjardin I hope you enjoy reading through my daily waka. I also have another blog "Stop the Stigma" where I may stand on my soapbox now and then and hope it will become a place to drop in and share or comment on issues important to you. In that vein this could be a great way to learn from each other. Namaste!

4 thoughts on “Misunderstanding of Self-Injury

  1. Thanks for your comments. You are right about the release of endorphins and that makes you feel good…which is sort of not good because it makes it harder to stop. It’s great that you try to NOT allow it to control you and you seem to have important people in your life that thinking of them helps you refrain from SI. good on you for finding that courage. Blessings, Cheryl-Lynn


  2. This is very true and insightful. The worst is that some people automatically think that just because a person commits self-harm, he/she is just seeking attention…which is really not the case. I don’t know if everyone has impulses to cut themselves, but I do. Whenever things get out of hand, when there is stress, or even when I’m angry, I get those really strong impulses. I never act on it though, because I’m afraid of what I will see in the eyes of people who knew me. And I don’t want to see them looking at me with pity, or for them to think that I’m just seeking attention, or that I have already lose my mind. Sometimes, I just bruise myself but that’s the most I did. And I’ve read from somewhere that there’s a biological explanation why cutters became addicted with cutting as a source of coping. I guess it has something to do with the release of endorphins or dopamine. 🙂

    If cutters even want any attention, I guess, it’s the attention of help. In a way, they are shouting for help, help that they couldn’t express in words. And I just hope people in the medical field understand that and not lose hope with us. 🙂 Because most cutters have already lost their hope on themselves, and if people around them also loosen their grip on them, then what’s the reason for them to continue on living? As for me, maybe I’m just lucky, because every time I get those impulses, I will just imagine that there’s at least this one person in this world that wouldn’t want me to that…that would rather feel all the pain I’m going through than to see me harm myself. And for me, it is enough. 🙂


  3. Reblogged this on The Process Of Wellness and commented:
    Cheryl-Lynn, Thanks for this post and thanks for following my blog. I know self-injury well. Although I have not self-harmed (edited) in over 25 years, I did in my twenties -n the mid 1980s. I was first diagnosed with depression and temporal lobe epilepsy. After many (!) dozens of admissions for suicide attempts and ideation, one attempt serious enough to land me DOA in an ER, I began self-harming (edited). The DOA was a spiritual awakening of sorts for me but the pain persisted. I began self-harming (edited).

    There was one episode where I was inpatient and a nurse caught me self-harming (edited). (I am kind of embarrassed by my then behavior now!) She looked at me and said, you definitely need treatment but I am not going to tell anyone I caught you and you will live with the consequences for the rest of your life.” (edited text)

    Your post reminded me of how sometimes nurses treat people who si. I do live with the consequence. (edited) . (text deleted) . I am a nurse. Was a nurse before having my breakdown after a serious back injury that started the decades of poorly-treated depression. When I was 25, a dr. told my parents to “go out and buy my coffin; it was just a matter of time before I was successful.” I was bright, a nurse and only had depression! But my fate was sealed. They were just in giving up. It was ok to let me die. I was 25!

    People in the general public need to know the truth about what happens when you are deemed “mentally ill.” I was depressed. I did end up with so many diagnoses. BPD as they say in the video; all people who si must be BPD! The labels I carried went all the to schizophrenia. I had previously been a supervisor of four surgican units in an elite hospital in Houston, Texas. I was supervisor for a time of Dr. DeBakey’s pre-op open heart surgery unit. I was good at my job. I was only 20 when I became charge nurse of an orthopedic unit. I was a very productive member of society. 5 short years later, I was a throw-away person. If something thought about it, would schizophrenia actually have been a real possibility? Course there was the doc who told me that I had never been a nurse. It was a delusion. “You can’t be as sick as you are now and have ever been a nurse.” He apologized after an odd coincidence. Someone in the class below me in nursing school was hired that very week. She sat with him after I told her what had been said and told him how much she had always respected me as a nurse. That she looked up to me and respected me as a good nurse even when I was an upperclassman. He apologized. I was supposed to be grateful that my real past was seen as real and not a figment of my imagination. Imagine, if you, as a “normal” human being had to hear that your entire life to that point was a hallucination or a delusion. “Delusion of grandeur” they call it. I never could have been the person I thought I had been. How do you defend against that?

    I think medical staff couldn’t go to the “there but for the grace…” place. It was too threatening to have one of their own be in the place I was in.

    This is just a tiny piece of what rolled into my shame story. When I was 25, my grandmother who I spoke of in a previous post, was living with terminal stage 4 ovarian cancer. She was never given up on. She got chemo until it made her deaf. Still there was hope. The doctors told her not to give up. My family never gave up. I was in the next room as I was living with her. There was NO hope for me. Smart, productive and caring. A nursing supervisor and charge nurse. No hope. Imagine that? That was my truth.

    But I got out. I got out on my own mostly. Things are a bit tough right now for me but I don’t cut. I figured out how to stop self-harming (edited). I’ll share that soon. I figured out a way to save myself. Thanks for reading. Be.


    1. Thanks for reblogging. Your experience resonates loudly, Betty.I have no problem with comments, but I do have to edit any trigginer words. Hope you understand. I hope YOU are proud of how far you have come in your battle…you have much to hold your head up high! CL


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