Why people diagnosed with BPD self harm

How self harm behaviours start
– Many people diagnosed with BPD start self harming as a way to cope with overwhelming emotions, usually starts with scratching leading on to more significant cuts and wounds. Some may have discovered the idea through someone else. For example going into a psychiatric ward for the first time and finding other patients who have self harmed. Self harming starts as a means to reduce the intense emotional anguish.

Why people self harm – many cut because it takes the mental pain away and provides physical pain, which they can actually feel, it can also be to take away the numbness feeling that many diagnosed with BPD can experience, self harming makes them feel more alive and not a robot.

Being addicted to self harm – With self harm at first a few scratches or wounds give the desired effect at first then more are need then more. Many become dependent on it to cope through difficult situations and find they experience severe anxiety if they are unable to self harm.

Giving self harm up – Giving up self harming can and is a difficult task for some they are addicted for others it’s the fear of what happens when they stop what’s next, how will I cope, what if I start doing well then relapse what then, what if I can never give it up. Giving up self harm is a personal choice and only one you can make by yourself, no one can force you, and if you’re not ready then you’re not ready.

Coping once stopping self harm behaviours – It’s hard and there are days when it is difficult to fight the urges to self harm and to want to relapse just to make the pain go away but using the DBT skills these urges can be beaten that will reduce the urges and temptations.

My story

I started self harming at 22, I thought it would help me and take the pain away forever but it didn’t and soon I was self harming every day several times a day, I needed more to give me the same release, I used different methods when one wouldn’t do it for me. I have required treatment for my self-harm and have been lucky that when I’ve had this treatment the medical staff have been wonderful towards me.

I have been self harm free for many years now, I have fought with those urges all throughout and still fight them today I don’t think they will ever go away completely however I do think they will get less and less as I learn the skills from DBT and cope with them better. I made a promise to my son that I wouldn’t self harm for him and so far I have kept that promise it’s been hard but I won’t break a promise especially to him.

A survivor of self harm and BPD and an advocate for the use of DBT.

I started self harming at the age of 17, I found myself placed in a children’s home, feeling alone, rejected and angry. One day, hurt and sad but unable to cry, all of a sudden I grabbed an object and scratched my arm. I thought id found the perfect solution. Little did I know I was to become addicted to it. My self-harm became more serious, as like with drugs, I had to hurt myself more and more to get the same release.

In the end it had accumulated in 5 years in hospital. DBT has been a lifeline; it has taught me other healthier ways to cope, like being given key to a room of light, leaving the darkness behind. I have been self harm free for nearly 2 months and without DBT this would never have been possible.

2 Responses to “Why persons diagnosed with BPD self harm.”

  • I began self harming when I was 13. Well before doctors could actually diagnosed me with BPD so I got depression and have spent from age 16 to 18 being treated for depression. I am in the process of tracking down a DBT therapist. At a recent point in time I was 8 months self harm free but have lapse twice in the past 2 months. I am working on taking it a month at a time. It’s hard to break an addiction.

  • rosiejbrown says:

    This is a fantastic and well written article. I began self harming around the age of 13/14 and it was only when I was 21 that I was finally diagnosed with BPD. Prior to that I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety disperser and cyclothymia (threshold bipolar). Thanks for sharing your experience xx

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