Many people find the concept of 'self-harm' or 'cutting' very difficult to understand and it this view which causes many of us who do self-harm, to keep it a secret for fear of being labelled as 'weird' or 'insane'.
The fact is that self-harm in the UK is dramatically on the increase and is most prevelant amongst young people and to ignore its existence is very concerning.
Of course there are varying degrees and ways in which people choose to harm themselves. Many partake in superficial cutting or burning which may leave no permanent scarring whilst others cut much deeper and across a larger surface area. Some people may go as far as to stab themselves or pound their heads against hard surfaces whilst others may pull out their hair or pick their skin.
The term 'self-harm' can be any form of abuse to oneself be it through drug, alcohol or food abuse just to name a few.
So why do people self-harm?
For so many, self-harm is a desperate and last resort. They feel unable to cope with the feelings or pain they are carrying around and seek release for this pain through self-inflicted injury. Many testify to the powerful sense of relief they feel from hurting themselves. Self-harm tends to be the option of those who feel totally
overwhelmed with what they are experiencing and can see no other way out. Other forms of self-harm such as substance abuse serves to block out feelings which may be intolerable and need to be suppressed.
The intention of those who self-harm tends not to be to kill themselves although unfortunately for some this can be the end result. Self-harm is very often a bi-product of an earlier negative experience or trauma and help can be found by dealing with the source of the painful feelings.
Infertility, sub-fertility and secondary infertility can have a devastating impact on our lives. Being unable to conceive when it has always been your plan to have a family, can induce feelings of shock, anger, depression, grief and even isolation.
Relationships can suffer greatly as a result of an inability to conceive and can put a huge strain on you and your partner. Perhaps blame is being apportioned or sex has become clinical and a matter of 'having to'. The choice to undergo fertility treatment can be a very difficult one with the physical, financial and emotional burden compounding the pressure you are both under.
Infertility can also affect your friendships, you may feel you don't want to be around people who have children because you find it too hard and upsetting and it may seem easier to withdraw from situations which you find difficult. It can also be very hard for people who are not experiencing infertility to empathise with those who are, a feeling that noone understands. The pain of loss and disappointment can be overwhelming and leave us with a feeling of being stuck on a treadmill where everything becomes about having a baby, preventing us from getting on and living our lives.
Maybe you don't want to burden others with your feelings and as a result, keep these feelings inside. However, talking to someone about what you are going through will help you to cope with the myriad of emotions that arise from infertility, helping you to face every stage of your journey. Anxiety and stress can also have a negative impact on fertility and fertility treatment so keeping these out of your life as much as possible is vital.
Living with the uncertainties of infertility is painful and exhausting, being supported throughout the experience will not guarantee success but can help make the process more bearable.
Dissociation or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) at the more extreme end of dissociation, is a term used to describe a coping mechanism which we employ consciously or unconsciously (more often), to disconnect from an experience or particular aspect of an experience. This may be used frequently or infrequently, depending upon the need at hand.
There are degrees to which dissociation arises. On a more day to day basis, dissociation may be used to deal with everyday stresses or to allow us to focus on things in a more intensive way by tuning out external distraction. We may automatically 'dissociate' when we drift off into the far reaches of our imagination. An example of this may be when we lapse into a trance whilst cooking and allow the pan to boil over.
The varying degrees to which dissociation may present can determine whether it is considered normal or problematic. The more extreme end of dissociation or Dissociate Identity Disorder may involve a partial shutting off or entire blocking out of a difficult or traumatic experience we have had. Our natural ability to dissociate is automatic and should be employed as a short term survival strategy only, to allow us to process difficult experiences at a later time when we feel stronger to do so and more able to cope with what has happened.
Dissociation becomes a problem when we use it as a long term strategy, failing to address what has happened at the time. We may then find that the event we are blocking revisits us as we go about our everyday lives. This could be in the form of flashbacks or unexplained behaviours which we are unable to put down to anything in our conscious awareness. This can become a huge source of anxiety and may impact on our functioning and relationships. Recall of the event we are choosing to block out, should be addressed slowly and safely with methods other than dissociation.
There are conflicting theories around the causes of dissociation but some common themes suggest that it may be more prevelant in people with the following characteristics:
A person may deal with a dissociative disorder by coming to accept all parts of themselves, incuding the internal parts and/or events they have have chosen to block out. To accept oneself allows us to heal emotionally. Coming to recognise triggers for DID is key to dealing with the problem and preventing us from lapsing back into using this coping mechanism.