Self Harm and The Myth of Attention Seeking

Why on earth would anyone want that kind of attention? No matter what people might say about self harm, at the end of the day the only thing you are going to get through people finding out is grief. Because they might be understanding the first time, maybe even the second time and if you’re lucky the third time. The myth of attention seeking seems to me to simply be a way for people to get around the real issue of self harm; that it’s a coping mechanism which means that someone is in a vast amount of pain.

When your assistant director turns to you and says ‘I know you self harm as well’ you start bricking yourself, because at the end of the day self harm is still a completely taboo topic in today’s day and age. In fact it is probably one of the only taboo topics. I have covered before the fact that this is a taboo that needs to be changed and the fact that even those in the medical professional field often seriously struggle with because if you make a serious attempt on your life they know what to do. They can diagnose you with something. But whilst self harm is often a symptom of depression it is not true that all self harmers are depressed nor that all depressed people self harm. But it is also completely untrue to say the majority of self harmers are simply looking for attention.

Because if you were looking for attention why would you go to such lengths to cover it? If you were looking for attention would you bother wearing long sleeves on a boiling summers day or making excuses if anybody accidentally notices? Why on earth would you spend so much time cultivating the persona of being exceptionally clumsy therefore allowing you to get away with the more than the occasional limp or obvious wince? If you were simply looking for attention then you would bring it out into the open, you would talk about it or simply show it off. And it is very, very rare that a self harmer will do that. Maybe a young adolescent who truly is trying in the only way they know how to show that they really need some help, but not anyone who has self harmed for a while. And if that adolescent is desperate enough for help that they will go to those extremes then surely you shouldn’t be judging them, you should be helping them.

The only time I will ever let anyone know that I self harm is if I truly believe that I am getting out of control and that very, very rarely happens. When it does I am more than aware of the damage that I will be able to do to myself, and on occasions have been brave enough to approach someone and ask them to take care of my penknife for me. Yes, I said brave. Because it takes one hell of a lot of courage to approach someone and ask for help, and it takes even more to hand over what you have come to see as your only method of control because you know it’s going the other way. But more than that, it takes an immense amount of courage to admit that this is a problem and to take the potential judgement that will be coming your way. Because people don’t understand. They don’t understand, they don’t empathise and they don’t particularly want to understand because the entire subject makes them uncomfortable. So instead people will judge and you will be isolated as the loner, the freak, the loser.

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  1. very nice article :)

  2. Totally brilliant and analytical approach to a subject, as you said that is such taboo. Well written. Maybe this will help someone. :)

  3. Nicely Written, thank you.

  4. You did a good write up. Hopefully it will help someone. It is sad that people are so quick to judge.

  5. Well witten and thanks for sharing.

  6. It’s very hard to understand why anyone hurt themselves, but it happens all the time especially to young girls. My hope is that they get psychological help.

  7. Sorry, would hurt themselves.

  8. Many try and cover up their inner feelings but it’s best to let someone know that you are so down and you really need some help with getting back up.

  9. very well written :)

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