You can care enough about yourself to realise you don't deserve to be hurt. Self-injury is only temporary relief WHY DO SOME GIRLS AND GUYS CUT THEMSELVES? Cutting doesn't mean you're suicidal; it means you've gone through some kind of trauma you've not yet dealt with. "Self-injury is a coping mechanism, a short-term problem-solving strategy,"Centurion clinical psychologist Lila Bosman says. It's a symptom of a deeper issue and enduring the tolerable physical pain of cutting allows you to avoid seemingly intolerable emotional pain. IS IT CURABLE: Yes! "Teens will feel alone and misunderstood because of the shame of cutting and even fear they're going crazy. But healing is possible with commitment and the right help and support," Lila says. The first step is to speak to a TEENS Advice BY KIMVAN REIZIG •^••PM WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE A FRIEND WHO SELF-HARMS? I Don't over-react - your friend probably already feels alone and ashamed.
"Remember no matter what front she puts, up deep down she's very distressed otherwise she wouldn't be cutting herself. The trick is to offer something different from everyone else" psychologist Lila Bosman says. Approach your friend in private and show you care about the person in pain behind the self-injury. Reassure her she doesn't need to feel guilty in your company and it's a problem that can be dealt with. Don't try to take complete control of your friend's life because she has issues with feeling out of control. Give support and offer to assist her in getting professional | help. Ask her consent before you tell a teacher or other adult about the problem. Encourage her to find someone she can trust to confide in. Your friend might become defensive and push you away - this might be her way of protecting herself. Be patient. Focus on the person not the injury. scary place right now. It doesn't have to last. Cutting is temporary and it's curable - you professional counsellor to uncover your underlying fear. A good therapist will know how to find the cause so all you need to do is make an appointment and be willing to answer questions. The counsellor will guide you. .HE LIGHT AT THE ENDOFTHETUNNEL Professional help is necessary but you can start the process of healing. • Tell someone you trust. Prepare what you want to say • it might be easier for you to write it in a letter or e-mail. • It's important for you to start identifying what triggers the cutting. Try to see the pattern and write a list of when it happens and how you felt before -whether you felt sad, angry, threatened, unworthy or depressed. • If you don't want to make the initial appointment with a therapist, ask the trusted person to set it up. Take all the information you've written down with you. DOESN'T HAVE TO GO ON FOREVER "There are skills you can learn from a psychologist to help yourself. Just because you don't know how to do it yet doesn't make you a bad person," Lila says. "If you aren't able to play the piano you won't think you are bad; you know if you learn how to play and you practise you will improve." The same goes for emotional coping strategies: you need someone to teach you how to deal with emotions. • The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) specialises in self-injury. Call 011-262-6396 between 8 am and 8 pm to speak to a counsellor. D T