New Years Eve is an interesting time of year…

New Years Eve is an interesting time of year. For some it is the opportunity to see in a new year, with hope and positivity; looking towards the future and all the plans that might unfold for the twelve months ahead. For others it is just a day to be with family and friends and to raise a glass together, enjoy good company and countdown to midnight as merely a passing of time where tomorrow we have to remember that we are in a new year.

For some, the turning of the New Year is a difficult and painful time. Where some look to the future with hope, others find the New Year a time to reflect on how unhappy they have been in the past year or beyond. Hopelessness may seep into their world and they may feel as though nothing is ever going to change. Many people that Harmless and The Tomorrow Project have worked with, describe the New Year period as a time to reflect and for those that have had a really tough time, that period of reflection may lead them down a dark path. There is nothing worse than looking to the future and feeling as though there is no point anymore.

Hopelessness can be crippling. It can make even the strongest person feel depressed and alone, but worse than that, it can truly make you question whether life is worth living. It is. It can get better. But at the times when hopelessness is rife it is important to look after ourselves and the ones that we love who might be feeling this way.

New Year is typically one of those times. We encourage each and every one of you to keep an eye on those friends who seem a little distant, who may be isolated or seem withdrawn or unhappy. Although many of us find ways of protecting others from our feelings when we are feeling low, it is so important to share the burden of struggle, if there is one.

This New Year, let’s each vow to look out for the ones that we love and try to make 2015 a safe and happy year. If you are someone that is struggling right now and you can identify with any of these words, reach out. Tell someone how you are feeling. Seek support. Next year might just be a turning point with the right help.

Try not to drink too much, stay with or close to people you know well and trust and try not to isolate yourself and let’s help you take the safe first steps into the New Year.

If you are in crisis and need some support right now please call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90. If you would like support from ourselves, feel free to email us and we will get in touch in the New Year.

A few words from a young service user about their experience of accessing our self harm services

As we say goodbye to 2014 and welcome 2015, we thought we’d take this opportunity to share a story we posted earlier in the year. An inspirational story written by a young person  who accessed support from Harmless.

‘Where do you start when your asked to write a blog on such a serious and sensitive topic? Especially when it’s to inform the many people effected how you were affected by a serious issue that can effect anyone! I suppose a good way to start would be the effects that self harm had on me.

I thought I was alone. I thought I was different. I thought everything was my fault. I thought self harm was the only option and nobody at all could help me change that. I thought wrong.

Of course it wasn’t easy but the things worth doing never are, but this was my first step to recovery and the beginning of a new chapter of my life.

I thought I’d give Harmless a go. After all if I didn’t like it I didn’t have to go again. The first week was scary, the tension was building up as the day got closer but that’s completely normal, just like trying anything you haven’t done before.

I met Adrienne, she seemed nice so I went again. I found the first few weeks a bit scary but as time went on I got more comfortable. One week had turned in to two weeks, two into three and eventually three into a year and a half.

I was terrified teenager, struggling to cope with everyday occurrences and self harming to get through each day. Thanks to Harmless I am me again. The past is a learning curve for me and the people I love and although I can’t predict the future I’m pretty sure it will be a bright, but that’s thanks to Harmless for helping me secure one. Without them I would still be surrounded by all the negative thoughts that are now behind me. All you have to remember is everybody deserves happiness, including you. Now when the going gets tough I know where to go.’

For more information about our services, please visit our website www.harmless.org.uk or email info@harmless.org.uk

After a successful re-launch of our self harm drop in service last year, we are pleased to announce that we have added some more dates for 2015:

After a successful re-launch of our self harm drop in service last year, we are pleased to announce that we have added some more dates for 2015:

  • Wednesday 7th January 2015 14.30-15.30 – Adult’s drop in (Ages 18+)
  • Wednesday 4th February 2015 15.30-16.30 – Young person’s drop in (Ages 11-21)
  • Wednesday 4th March 2015 14.30-15.30 – Adult’s drop in (Ages 18+)
  • Wednesday 1st April 2015  15.30-16.30 – Young person’s drop in (Ages 11-21)
  • Wednesday 6th May 2015 14.30-15.30 – Adult’s drop in (Ages 18+)

Location: All drop ins will take place at the Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service building, on Mansfield Road, Nottingham. NG1 3FB. (Opposite House of Fraser)

The drop in service is run by Adrienne and Val, who are both trained therapists here at Harmless. Each month, they will on hand to offer a friendly face and provide information about Harmless, our self harm services, or to just talk about any concerns that you may have about self harm. Remember, this service is confidential .

This  service is for anyone and not just for those who self harm. If you have concerns about someone else such as a family member or a colleague then please feel free to join us. If it makes you more at ease, bring along someone who you can trust such as a friend.

We encourage all those wanting to access our drop ins to make the most of this important service.  Harmless want to continue to provide such opportunities for people but unless they are used, it is likely they will be cancelled and our resources will be distributed elsewhere.

For more information, please email info@harmless.org.uk

Please note: Harmless services are closed until January 5th. Messages and emails will be responded to at the earliest opportunity when we return.

The following may help us take the steps to protect or help the ones we love…

The following may help us take the steps to protect or help the ones we love.

If you spot the warning signs of suicide in someone you care about, you may wonder if it’s a good idea to say anything. What if you’re wrong? What if the person gets angry? In such situations, it’s natural to feel uncomfortable or afraid. But anyone who talks about suicide or shows other warning signs needs immediate help—the sooner the better.

Talking to a person about suicide
Talking to a friend or family member about his or her suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult for anyone. But if you’re unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask. You can’t make a person suicidal by showing that you care. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can provide relief from loneliness and pent-up negative feelings, and may prevent a suicide attempt.

Ways to start a conversation about suicide:

“I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”
“Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.”
“I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.”
Questions you can ask:

“When did you begin feeling like this?”
“Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?”
“How can I best support you right now?”
“Have you thought about getting help?”
What you can say that helps:

“You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.”
“You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.”
“I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”
“When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute—whatever you can manage.”

When talking to a suicidal person
Do:

Be yourself. Let the person know that you care and he or she is not alone. The right words are often unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.
Listen. Let the suicidal person unload despair and ventilate anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.
Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, and accepting. Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about his or her feelings.
Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let the person know that his or her life is important to you.
If the person says things like, “I’m so depressed, I can’t go on,” ask the question: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” You are not putting ideas in in your loved one’s head, you are showing that you are concerned, that you take him or her seriously, and that it’s okay for them to share his or her pain with you.
But don’t:

Argue with the suicidal person. Avoid saying things like: “You have so much to live for,” “Your suicide will hurt your family,” or “Look on the bright side.”
Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, or say that suicide is wrong.
Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy; a life is at stake and you may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussions secret, you may have to break your word.
Offer ways to fix his or her problems, or give advice, or make your loved one feel like he or she has to justify his or her suicidal feelings. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your friend or loved one.

Blame yourself. You can’t “fix” someone’s depression. Your loved one’s happiness, or lack thereof, is not your responsibility.

Merry Christmas From Harmless and The Tomorrow Project

On behalf of the Harmless and Tomorrow Project team, we hope you all have a safe and happy Christmas.

As we said yesterday, Christmas isn’t an easy time for everyone. While some of us are celebrating with our families, others are suffering, often in silence. People can feel isolated at this time of year, alone, or because this time of year is a time of reflection, can feel mournful and sad. It’s important to notice people around you and how they’re feeling. Often it’s not the grand gestures that can make a difference to how someone is feeling but the simple things- a phone call or text, a hug and a chat.

Christmas isn’t an easy time for everyone…

Christmas isn’t an easy time for everyone. While some of us are celebrating with our families, others are suffering, often in silence. People can feel isolated at this time of year, alone, or because this time of year is a time of reflection, can feel mournful and sad. It’s important to notice people around you and how they’re feeling. Often it’s not the grand gestures that can make a difference to how someone is feeling but the simple things- a phone call or text, a hug and a chat.

Often people don’t know what to do when faced with someone who is struggling, but it’s simple, just be for there for them. Notice they’re feelings and don’t be afraid to ask how they’re doing, but most of all just make sure you make time for them.

Christmas can be especially hard for those with emotional health difficulties, people who have experienced huge loss in their life, or who self harm. These things can improve with time with the right help and support.

Never lose hope, and hoping everyone makes it through this time of year safe and well.

Harmless and The Tomorrow Project would like to invite you to contribute to our blog…

Harmless and The Tomorrow Project would like to invite you to contribute to our blog. Our blog is important to us because it helps us convey a range of issues around self harm and suicide to the public. It helps us reach people in distress and promote better understanding about these issues amongst our readers.

It helps us tell you about our work, upcoming events, dispel myths and offer advice. But we also want it to challenge stigma and to offer real stories about self harm and recovery so that people reading this can feel connected to what we do and who we help.

If you would like to write a blog for us about your experiences, then you can submit this to info@harmless.org.uk with the title ‘blog post’. In your email, please tell us what name you would like us to use for you. You can say as little about your identity as you want.

The blog should be about 200 -300 words in length and shouldn’t be graphic in any way, but should offer the reader an insight into your experiences that might help them relate to self harm, distress, or suicide. The blog could be about what you’ve felt or experienced, what’s helped, or not helped… What needs to change, or what he stigma around these issues has been for you.

It is vital to us that we represent your voice and your experiences, so if you feel you can contribute to this blog, please do.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Harmless is a service thriving in the field of self harm and suicide prevention work…

Harmless is a service thriving in the field of self harm and suicide prevention work. We talk often and openly about our provision of services, the events that we are attending- our academic work and research. Perhaps we should also find more time to talk about the bread and butter of our work and what it is that truly makes our work effective. This means talking about heart and soul and above all, hope. Yes, we are ‘innovating’ interventions; yes, we are evidencing our work- but the question really should be ‘what helps people to stay alive?’.

People turn to harming themselves or contemplating death over the ‘big’ things in their life. We often take these ‘big’ things to mean big events or traumas, but more essentially, these are big emotional experiences- feelings of devastation- loss, sadness, shame, fear…. No matter what their origin.

Harmless is a service that truly understands and relates to self harm and suicide. It embraces staff who have lived experiences of these issues – perhaps we don’t write about this enough. So it’s important, that, despite the clear academic rationale for our work, we embed these experiences in our work- that we always prioritise the human touch in the services that we provide.

So… What is it that helps people to stay alive and to overcome both suicide and self harm? It can be the little things. Or an accumulation of little things. It can be an act of kindness that can tip the balance in the favour of life, or a positive experience that can reduce the amount of harm someone causes themselves. It can be a thousand tiny experiences that encourage a sense of hope, or belongingness. These might not ‘fix’ the problems that someone is facing but it can be enough to help someone to keep fighting.

What years of research does tell us is that isolation and hopelessness are really crucial in people self harming, and going on to become suicidal… But we knew that anyway, right?

If each of us offer the small things, just think what a difference we could be making to someone in pain. And that’s what Harmless does. That’s why we make a difference- not just because we offer an intervention, but that we offer it at a time of need, with compassion and sincerity- that we care enough to do it and to be there when we are needed and that we are real people with real stories, doing that work.

There is always hope for people in distress. Every life touched is the potential for a life saved. So we will keep on doing what we do, and learning from it. We will keep talking to the people we help and let them, each and every one, tell us what helps them.

And we will keep believing, until people can believe for themselves again, that their life is worth living and there is hope… And that no matter how bad things feel, they can be helped.

22nd of September, 2002.

The doctor and her driver just dropped me outside A & E. I am crying, shaking and I feel very much alone. I drop my keys and fumble for them on the ground whilst balancing my heavy rucksack on my shoulder. I’m clutching to my letter – the letter that the GP had just handed me and told me to take to the hospital.

When I report to the reception desk, they are expecting me. I am told to wait with the other unfortunate souls that find themselves here at this time of night. The waiting area is full, as people hold their heads and arms in pain. I have nothing to clutch, except my heart that feels as though it is bleeding out all the pain in my body. Instead I wrap my arms around my bag and weep into it quietly.

I know people look at me. I withdraw inside myself and try to become smaller, so no one can see me. I am invisible in my mind; as is my pain.

A friendly looking nurse calls my name and I stop being invisible. I stand and follow her to another waiting area. Here, the patients sit in rows, all facing me. I am told to take a seat but I cannot move. The only available seat is right at the back and a sea of faces to go with it. Five behind five behind five pairs of staring eyes. My heart is now pounding; racing. My legs shuffle and I prepare to run. Instead, I turn to the nurse terrified and burst into tears. Everyone is staring at me, but I cannot stop. I put my hands to my face to try and hide my distress, but I cannot hide. It’s too big to hide anymore.

The nurse kindly guides me to a cubicle and draws the curtain and I am left alone. I cry.

They tell me that the doctor won’t be long; time both stands still and races past me. I am lost to it. I don’t belong in this world. I don’t breathe the same air as other people. I don’t think the same way. There is no place for me.

Eventually the doctor arrives with nurses and they look at my wounds which are all throbbing and sore now. They poke around and pinch the cuts together, and then tell me that I need to be stitched. I am terrified. I describe to them the situation I find myself in and I tell of the blackness, the panic, the fear.

I seem to have reduced myself to a grain of sand, sitting right in the middle of my head. My vision becomes tunnelled and dark, the sounds are muffled and distant as I try so hard to protect myself from the moment I find myself in. I KNOW that I am answering their questions, but it doesn’t feel like me – it is the me that I call upon when I cannot cope. The me that gives a voice to the voiceless.

I can hear myself telling them that I don’t know how else to cope, but they don’t understand. They must think that I am wasting their time and I feel so ashamed. I am desperate for someone to hear me, just to hear how it is that I am feeling. I can feel it mounting up inside of me and then it gets unbearable so I take it out on myself. It is only then in that brief moment that all the emotion gets washed away. But then, afterwards, I am left with this; with scars and pain, humiliation and shame.

I sit here whilst they sew my legs back together like a patchwork quilt. I look at what I have done to

myself and I promise myself, like every other time, I will never do this again – that this time I will find a new way of coping. I don’t know how, but I will.

But it will happen again, wont it? Because it always does. It hurts so badly, and I try to wish it all away, but I know that I must deserve this.

Later:

I’m listening to the weather forecast on the radio: highs of 18°c, the weather outside is dull, damp and miserable. The weather inside is worse.

Let me describe the room; a square, 12’ square. The walls are a smoke-tinged yellow, like the walls of a neglected public house. There are five high-backed PVC chairs that look as if they have been slashed and cut into. The foam spills out of their gouges. There is a fan, twisting and turning its gnarled head in protest, forcing the heavy smoke from one side of the room to the other.

I could lose myself in here for good, amidst the floral curtains and the pasty walls, the echoed footsteps and voices in hallways. Nothing matters in here; not the way I look, or the way I dress, or whether I wash my hair. This is not me. I should not be here.

Someone sings out from the radio: “oh baby, come on… I need you to show me how to start living my life…”

Maybe I am hearing words being called to me from outside these walls. I need someone to show me how to start living my life. I need someone to teach me how to cope, right from the start. I am a child again. I am as I was as a child: without guidance. This is my way of coping, this is my way and this is my best.

This is not good enough.

22nd September, 2009.

This was written at the depth of a despairing time, when the only thing that seemed to surround me was a world that didn’t understand my struggle. I was the girl that hurt herself so badly that the doctors just hadn’t the patience to keep ‘fixing me’, nor the care for why it was happening. I was the girl that spent hours crying quietly to herself, wishing someone would notice and help. I didn’t need much, but what I really needed was a touch of human compassion.

Instead I was the girl that mental health services labelled as ‘attention-seeking’, the girl that they said couldn’t be helped and the girl that they wrote off as an ‘expected suicide’. Today I am a therapist. After years of suffering, when human compassion was eventually offered to me I turned the corner.

Years on I now spend every day working to help others the way that they helped me; people who face similar experiences of distress and despair to get the help, the compassion and the support that was lacking in my own struggles. I am precisely the reason why Harmless needs to exist, why we have to listen to the voiceless and believe beyond everything, that people can triumph over their pain. Having hope is such a difficult thing when the world seems bleak, so I, and Harmless, hope you (after reading this) can above all else, remain hopeful for change. Distress is subjective, and whatever has driven someone to self harm, whether it is a bad day at work or abuse, it matters. Give people the chance to define their selves and to describe their struggles in their own words. Give people the space where it is ok to just be.

Self harm and despair can be overcome. If we work hard enough, if we help hard enough – recovery happens.

If you would like to read more stories of recovery, or learn more about self harm and suicide why not buy our book, by clicking here.

In the news… Teenagers experiencing mental health problems will no longer be detained in police cells as a “place of safety”.

Home Secretary Theresa May will announce later an overhaul of mental health laws in England and Wales.

The government review is also set to recommend adults should only be kept in a police cell as a place of safety in exceptional circumstances.

It comes after a 16-year-old girl was kept in police cells for two days last month because of a lack of care beds.

Her situation, in Torquay, came to public attention when Paul Netherton, assistant chief constable at Devon and Cornwall Police, tweeted his concerns. She was eventually found a bed on an adult psychiatric ward.

The joint Home Office and Department of Health review of sections 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act also recommends reducing the maximum length of detention for someone in mental distress from 72 hours to 24 hours.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: “Too frequently it is a police officer who responds to a vulnerable person in crisis, and I am determined to put an end to children who are suffering a mental illness being detained in police cells.

“There is no place for this in our society.

“Vulnerable children and adults should be treated by police with respect and compassion, but I am very clear that it is the job of health professionals to provide the proper healthcare and support required.”

For the full story;

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30520962

Christmas Closures for Harmless and The Tomorrow Project

The Harmless and The Tomorrow Project team are taking some time off.

Services will close on Friday 19th December and we will return on Monday 5th January 2015.

This year has been a very successful one for Harmless and The Tomorrow Project, thank you to everyone who has supported us this past year. With your on going support we are sure next year will bring many more achievements as we continue to save lives and support those who self harm, their friends and families.

If you need to contact us for any reason please email info@harmless.org.uk and we will get back to you upon our return.

Merry Christmas from everyone here at Harmless and The Tomorrow Project!