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When a Friend Said I Was Self-Harming for Attention

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Several years ago, I was struggling with self-injurious behavior. It never got to a dangerous point. Yet, it was serious enough for me to worry about myself and to have others worry about me. It was a really big issue for me because a part of me wanted to stop but a part of me craved it.

As this became such a pertinent issue in my life, I reached out to several support people. I would reach out whenever I had urges in an attempt to curb my impulses and get out of crisis. It really worked for me. Calling a friend was a powerful tool.

Until, that is, one of my support people said to me, “You’re clearly doing this for attention.”

I was floored. In all honesty, there was probably a subconscious part of me that was using self-harm as a way to reach out to people. However, on a conscious level, I was completely in shock at the thought of self-harm being anything more than a destructive addiction that I couldn’t shake. I was not using it to manipulate people into giving me attention.

That comment from my friend put a seed of doubt into every conversation I’ve had with support people since then. What if I am using this for attention? What if this person thinks that about me? What if this is feeding a loop that’s only going to make my self-harm worse?

Thoughts like these plague me to this day, and honestly, it has made it more difficult to reach out to people when I’m in crisis. I don’t want to use self-harm for attention, and the fear that I might weighs me down enough to not reach out at all some days.

Here’s the truth: Self-harm is not for attention. Even if it is, it signifies a deep need for help in an individual. If you know something struggling with self-harm, then never assume you know why they do it. It’s different for everyone. Let them tell you why and then support them through it.

If you are someone who struggles with self-harm, then know that getting help and reaching out to others is the strongest thing you can do. Don’t let other people’s assumptions stop you from getting the help you need. You are worth it.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: December 29, 2016
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