Self-harm. Every generation has their chosen poison, yet every generation has heard from their parental unit how they are being dramatic during their adolescent years, the turmoil only to be scoffed off as teenage angst. However, anyone who has remotely visited the border of self-deprecation knows that there is always more than the smell of teenage spirit.

What is self-harm? In simple words, deliberate self-harm can be referred to as any time we hurt ourselves even if it is not with the intention to put a full stop to our story and yet we partake in self-harming behavior. Self-harming behaviors exist in more than the obvious way of taking metal to our skin. Any time we belittle ourselves, be self-deprecating, or give up on something we are passionate about, we sabotage ourselves. When we overeat without being mindful or just do the opposite to fit into some picture-perfect image that is highly altered in the first place, we deliberately self-harm.

What is suicidal ideation? Suicidal ideation is defined as thinking about killing oneself, often as a symptom of a major depressive episode. The majority of instances of suicidal ideation do not lead to attempted suicide. In simple words, some people exist in the gray area between ending their story and continuing with ellipses. Most days they continue without actively thinking about hurting themselves in any manner but the thought still lurks around the corner, invisible but there.

Ways to cope or help someone else dealing with self-harm and suicidal ideation

Humor, sadness, and self-deprecating behavior goes hand in hand. We want to be relatable and share our pain in the form of humor but sometimes that very coping mechanism becomes our natural lens to perceive ourselves and different situations.
Terminate the ANT – Automatic Negative Thoughts or ANTs are the conscious or unconscious negative thoughts that start to live in our brain and become our automatic response to any minor or major events. Most of the time, these thoughts are about ourselves. In order to terminate these ANTs, we have to be mindful – identifying and observing what triggers them, remembering that our worth is more than the triggers, and adjusting the negative thought to one’s reality. Let’s take the example of falling behind in
a class. That event does not make the student less valuable.
Unlearn and relearn – Identify the physical indicators that may be accompanied with the urge to self harm, e.g. increased heart rate, feelings of heaviness, a disconnect from the current reality, an extreme preoccupation with the thought of self-harm or suicide. Identifying the urges can help to learn more about one’s trigger by making a note of it. They can better manage themselves the next time they experience the urge by pivoting to engage in healthy distractions like journaling, painting, scribbling or doodling to be preoccupied and not actively engage in self-harming behavior.
Shake it off – Dance to the absolutely sick beat or just sway with the wind. As annoying as that may sound, working out in some way or the other really does wonders to divert he mind and better the mood.
Don’t conceal, do feel – Suppressing emotions does more harm than good. When thing get too rough and it feels like a battle to keep your head above water, instead of resorting to hurting yourself as a distraction – listen to music that provides comfort and feel all the things that you need to feel. Put on a sad movie and cry because of the troubles your comfort character is going through. Sometimes a good cry does make it better.
Write a letter addressed to the fire – Write it all out as if you are talking to a friend, a friend you can trust who won’t pass any judgment, and then burn it.
Open a dialogue – If you know someone who is engaged in self-harming behavior or could be potentially suicidal, open a dialogue for conversation. Talking about self-harm or suicide can be uncomfortable, but learn to sit with the discomfort. Educate yourself and if you see someone struggling, ask them with genuine intent if they are okay. Sometimes a friendly banter or a safe space to confide in can make a lot of difference to those struggling with these issues regularly.

What is often labeled as teen angst does not often go away with the end of adolescence. Do seek professional help because no amount of art can actually replace the relief that is provided by therapy or psychosomatic medication.

About the author

Srishti Wadhwa

Hi! I am Srishti, an inspiring writer. Still working on transforming writing from "passion to profession". New updates every Sunday.

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