Service User Experience: The first time I self-harmed

The first time I self-harmed, I was 14 years old and in foster care. Up to this point in my life, I had received; violence from my father, sexual abuse from my brother and emotional abuse and neglect from my mother. Everything in my life happened around me and I could not control any of it. That I am just learning. Self-harming enabled me to have some control in my life but also, to release the pain that had been building up inside for so long. Afterwards, I would always hate the reminder of what I had done and would hide my shame. The irritation of the scars rubbing on my clothes made me unhappy and embarrassed.

I managed to stop self harming through university and the first two years I taught. An event at work, led me back to that place. A body full of emotion, and no outlet, and so I self-harmed. After, I thought I am not a teenager anymore, so why did I do it? However, self-harm does not distinguish between your age or gender. I am finding ways to minimise the want to self-harm.

I am finally receiving counselling, which is helping, but it is a process. What I do know, is that when I self-harm, I am only hurting myself, when it is others who have caused the pain I am feeling. Why do I have to experience more pain on top of what I am already feeling? This is what makes me want to stop and find healthy ways of releasing my feelings. It is a journey that I have to go on, but I will get to the destination that I deserve. Just know, that you are not alone in what you are feeling.

Harmless Self Harm Adult Drop-in this Wednesday

Harmless would like to invite you to attend our Monthly Adult Drop-In Support Group meeting on Wednesday 3rd February at 14:00 – 15:00.

Our sessions are friendly and welcoming. We create a relaxed atmosphere with approachable staff who provide important information explaining how our service can support you, your friends and family or a colleague. We can offer information or advice about any concerns you may have about self harm.

You will have the opportunity to meet Val our experienced and qualified therapist and Colin, our experienced and friendly Project Worker.

All drop in sessions will take place at the Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service Building, & Mansfield Road, Nottingham, NG1 3FB (Opposite House of Fraser)

If you have trouble finding us please call on 0115 9348445 or email us at info@harmless.org.uk

Can psychotherapy reduce suicide and self harm in young people?

Written by Mark Smith

Mark is a qualified and experienced psychotherapist who works as an IAPT NHS clinician and in private practice. He has a number of years of experience working with patients with mental health issues. Mark is also a freelance trainer who regularly delivers workshops and seminars on a diverse range of mental health disorders and interventions. He is particularly interested in addiction theory and therapy, anger management, outcome measures in psychotherapy and mental health disorders. He holds a PhD and is a member of both the BACP and BABCP;

In recent weeks suicide prevention has been the focus of much publicity. Much of this is of course due to stark fact that around 800,000 people take their own lives around the globe each year (WHO, 2014). This month also marked World Suicide Prevention Day and the theme this year was ‘Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives’.

We elves also made our very own significant contribution to this debate by dedicating our latest expert campfire discussion to the subject of Suicide prevention in young people. Elf experts discussed the prevalence (Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds worldwide – WHO, 2014) and the importance of compassion in preventing suicide and self-harm in young people. If you missed it, you can watch the broadcast below.

I was therefore most pleased to be asked to write my latest blog on a recent systematic review and meta-analysis on therapeutic interventions for the prevention of suicide attempts and self-harm in adolescents. This according to the authors, was the first published meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating therapeutic interventions (TIs) in reducing both suicidal behaviour and non-suicidal self-harm in adolescents.

 

Methods

The authors (led by Dr. Ougrin from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust) searched the Cochrane, Medline, PsychINFO, EMBASE, and PubMed databases (as of May 2014) for articles which presented data on the efficacy of therapeutic interventions on suicide, non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) or self-harm (the authors used the term “self-harm,” referring to the broad definition used in the UK and Europe that includes NSSI, suicide attempts, and self-harm with undetermined intent). Inclusion criteria are stated as being:

RCTs of specific TIs, defined as a theoretically coherent, manualized (or otherwise replicable) psychological, social, or pharmacological intervention, versus control treatment or placebo, in adolescents through age 18 years who have self-harmed at least once.

Self-harm was the primary outcome measure in the meta-analysis.

The authors’ used an impressive array of statistical tests to examine: pooled risk differences; pooled mean effect size; estimated variance of the true effect sizes; sensitivity and meta-regression analyses; estimates of heterogeneity. Meta-regression was performed to assess the influence of the number of sessions, length of follow-up periods, family, proportion of females, proportion of patients taking psychotropic medication, mean age, characterisation of the control group, quality of the study, and outcome measure (suicide only/suicide and self-harm) on the effect size. Finally, they also looked at publication bias.

 

For the full story, please follow this link:

http://www.nationalelfservice.net/mental-health/suicide/can-psychotherapy-reduce-suicide-and-self-harm-in-young-people/?sthash.NYetXRbX.mjjo

Ever had the thought that you have had enough? Or that you can’t go on anymore? Me Too

Ever had the thought that you have had enough? Or that you can’t go on anymore?

Me too.

In fact, it is more common than you think. Probably still under reported, it is estimated that 1 in 20 of us think about suicide at some point and that’s even higher in men, with 42% of males contemplating ending their life.

The thing is, having the thoughts is relatively normal. Sometimes we just reach breaking point. We have a certain amount of capacity to deal with what life throws at us until we feel overwhelmed and at breaking point.

If you are reading this and don’t understand what I am saying, then be glad, because no matter how bad you have felt, you probably haven’t actually been at breaking point, or at least you have had enough positive factors in your life to bring you back from that place.

Sometimes breaking point comes quickly – you don’t see it coming. For others, it can be a prolonged and sustained build up of the pain that life can throw at you: one thing after another, until you just don’t know how to fix anything or cope anymore.

In this situation what is vital, is that we get some help – from someone we trust or can approach, whether that be a friend or a professional, a stranger or a family member. It almost doesn’t matter who you go to. It doesn’t matter where you get that help – it just matters that you get it; that you tell someone loud and clear, that you are suffering.

It isn’t in the big things always that we find a way back from breaking point. It is in the little things. It is in someone holding our hand when we need some comfort, or making a cup of tea and listening to us when we need to vent, or it might be in the silence on the end of a phone that tells us we are not alone.

But get that help, because without it those thoughts might just turn into actions, and the actions of a desperate person can lead to tragedy.

And we don’t want that.

Life can get better, even if it feels bleak.

Could you write a blog for us?

Harmless 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 mighty 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 harmless 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 Deliver First Community Mental Health Workshops

Harmless recently won a bid to deliver Mental Health Awareness workshops to individuals in the community, frontline workers and managers that live or work in Nottingham City. These workshops are commissioned by Nottingham City Council and Nottingham CCG and are set alongside the five strategic priorities from the Nottingham City Adult Mental Health Strategy

Our first delivery of these workshops was completed on Tuesday when I delivered a Community Workshop to a number of delegates wanting to improve their knowledge, skills and confidence in order to respond effectively to individuals with mental health conditions and also, importantly, to work towards reducing stigma and discrimination.

I feel the workshop was a really positive start to the training we will be delivering over the upcoming months. The delegates fully engaged with the delivery and it was an extremely interactive session with lots of discussions, sharing of knowledge and lived or personal experience.

I always feel privileged when delegates share their own experiences as it demonstrates a safe learning environment has been created which is vital when talking about subjects that can be extremely emotive.

As we always find with 2 hour workshops, the delegates always want longer. This delivery was no exception. This really proves to me that delegates became engaged with delivery and were finding it valuable, beneficial and informative. The feedback that was received both verbally and written was extremely positive and showed a clear development in terms of gained understanding for participants. We measure progress in terms of knowledge before delivery and knowledge once the workshop has finished in order to ensure the content, workshop and delivery has been effective and advantageous for the each individual. It is also used to assess we are meeting the commissioners requirements and I feel pleased that there was an evident increase in knowledge once the workshop had completed.

We have many more upcoming dates for workshops. For more details email Sophie@harmless.org.uk

Taking Care of your Mental Health

It is Nottingham Mental health Awareness weeks and we want to share with you ways to look after your mental health.

Mental health is the emotional and spiritual resilience which allows us to enjoy life and survive pain, disappointment and sadness. It is a positive sense of well being and an underlying belief in our own, and other’s dignity and worth.

We can look after our mental health in so many different ways such as:

  • Talking about your feelings, this can help you to cope with your problems. Being listened to can help you feel supported and not alone.
  • Eating well, there are strong links between what we eat and how we feel, eat at least 3 meals each day and drink plenty of water.
  • Keeping in touch with family and friends, spend time developing your relationship with your family and friends or join a group this will help you feel connected.
  • Being active, participating in regular activity such as walking in the fresh air, gardening or any other exercise can release chemicals in your brain, which makes you feel good; it can boost your self esteem.
  • Developing a skill can give you a sense of achievement. Doing something you are good at, something you can lose yourself in, so there is no room in your head for worries.
  • Accept who you are, we are all different and all unique, accepting who you are increases your confidence and self esteem.
  • Take time to relax, unwind and enjoy yourself.

If you would like to talk to someone about mental health, Harmless run regular drop in sessions where you can meet with one of our trained therapists. The next sessions are as follows:

  • Young person drop-in or those aged 21 years and under: Wednesday 21st October between 11am and 12pm. 
  • Adult drop-in for those aged 18 and over: Wednesday 28th October, between 3:30pm and 4:30pm.

Harmless Self Harm Drop-in this Wednesday

Harmless provide two drop in sessions per month, one for adults and a separate one your young people.

Our next adult drop in session will be:

Wednesday  30th September  at 3:30pm–  4.30pm for young persons aged 18 years and over.

Our trained therapist will be on hand to offer information or advice about any concerns you may have about self harm.

If you have any concerns about someone such as a family member, friend or a colleague, then please feel free to join us, you will be assured of a friendly welcome.

All drop in sessions will take place at the Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service Building, & Mansfield Road, Nottingham, NG1 3FB (Opposite House of Fraser)

If you have trouble finding us please call on 0115 9348445, or email us at info@harmless.org.uk.

 

Could you write a blog for us?

Harmless 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 mighty 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 harmless 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.

Self harm – A personal experience

When I think about self-harm now, there’s a detachment.

In a way I can see and almost feel my younger self in the context of acute distress, unable to express my emotions and feeling like there was no outlet for the internal torment. I can place myself in my former mind and body, and recall when I found self-harm – as a way out of the heightened fear and anxiety, an effective mechanism to cope, a short term relief to the feelings I couldn’t deal with, or sometimes a way to remind myself I was alive when I felt nothing at all.

I can place myself back in that person, know it, feel it and realise the familiarity – and yet at the same time it feels so distant, far removed, a moment, memory and time gone by.

I welcome that I can reflect and know that I am not in that place anymore, and I even value the negative nostalgia – for I know I made it through, and I know I have grown stronger, more resilient and more equipped with a toolbox of healthy coping mechanisms through addressing my self-harm.

I began self-harming intermittently aged 10, at age 12 this progressed to a daily ritualistic action, and up to 17 I was regularly injuring myself as a way to externally manifest the pain, hopelessness and confusion I was feeling inside. At the time I was also in the depths of anorexia, completely consumed, and at times paralysed, with OCD – the combination of my conditions had a toxic interplay which made it difficult to unpick the mesh of thoughts and behaviours to find remedy, support and relief.

Through many interventions and treatment, focus was often, if not always, placed on treatment of one condition or behaviour – tackle the eating disorder and leave everything else, or stop the self-harm before addressing the OCD. This simple, one dimensional approach may have created short-term positives, but ultimately resulted in bigger set-backs, and long-term wasn’t conducive to my overall recovery. If my self-harming reduced, my anorexia ignited with full force and if my eating was improving, I felt an intense need to punish myself with self-harm and infinite OCD compulsions.

It wasn’t until I accessed and engaged with treatment that took a comprehensive and holistic approach, looking at me as a person – supporting and treating my illnesses and distress as a whole, that I was able to start making small steps in all areas towards getting better. This is the point: We as people are just that – whole, real, living, breathing humans with complex needs – and so we need compassionate, holistic treatment and support to reflect this reality.

If focus is only ever placed on one snapshot of our struggle, it will only ever place a band-aid on a small piece of a jigsaw that can never become complete – there will likely always be a gap, a void, a missing part.

Treat us, support us, see us – as a whole – so that we can become whole again.