Self harm does get worse

I never really *got* why self harm was so bad. But today….I think I may be starting to get it. What it is about self harm that makes it so maladaptive.

They say self harm gets worse over time. I didn’t see that in myself. When I cut, my wounds are always superficial and they haven’t become deeper over the years. I’ve been cutting myself for seven years too. What I failed to acknowledge is that cutting is just one aspect of my self harm. That may have stayed the same over the years but other forms have not.

The first time I took an overdose was when things got really bad and I wanted to die. These days I find myself chucking pills down my throat even when things aren’t at that stage. In other words, I now take small overdoses as an alternative to cutting at times. The scary thing is that I can see what harm I’m doing when I cut, but there’s no way of knowing what internal damage I’m doing to myself by taking these amounts and combinations of pills.

It’s easy to look back in hindsight and think, ‘Gosh, what was the point of that? That was stupid.’ It’s harder in the moment. But I am beginning to realise that self harm is dangerous. The severity and frequency does increase over time. Something I hadn’t comprehended until today, when I’ve overdosed twice in less than two weeks and my body has become accustomed that I haven’t even vomited the past two times.

8 thoughts on “Self harm does get worse

  1. uh, yeah! thanks!
    it was your comment about “other forms of self harm” that’s rung a bell. I know you go on to talk about another ‘official’ self harm, but it’s put into context comments people have made previously about escalation.

    ok, you’re cutting & ODing. the acts themselves might not be changing (even if frequency is going on), but you are clearly self-harming in lots of other sorts of ways- self-hatred, self-isolation, (emotional through to behavioural self-harm), and are these getting worse? Are you (we) having to do new activities to ;maintain the harm level’? thanks for the thought prompt

  2. this really stirck a cord with me. my cutting remained fairly superficial for many years & then escalated at an alarming speed. it now gets totally out of control. i also used to overdosed on nurofen plus, diazepam, tramadol etc. i started taking around 6 nurofen + and ended up taking about 45 at a time. i have done serious damage to my stomach. it is so dangerous and yet so easy to do.
    i hope things get better for you. please try to be kind to yourself.

  3. hell yeh it gets worse!!
    it took me a very long time to believe this, after having been warned millions of times by various professionals that that was exactly what was happening-and that if i wasnt careful id end up ‘accidently dead’.

    makes you really think.


    take care love xx

  4. Ah, I can relate to this… when I see my scars from when I first started self-harming, compared to recent ones… as well as the overdoses… argh! I really hope that somehow you can find out positive things to help you feel better.

    outwardly x

  5. Self harm and ODing has really been an issue for me lately too. It does get worse over time but thankfully for me because I stopped self harming by injuring my arms, although it was relatively a small number of them, they were pretty bad and I have lovely purple scars now. My ODing, although only once recently, was the worst one I had ever done. Just be careful if you can because you can end up permanently harmed or worse.

  6. It took me ages to *get* this too. My cutting escalated badly over the ten years or so I did it, but I am fully aware that this doesn’t happen to everyone – what DOES happen to everyone who engages in self destructive behaviours is that they get less and less able to cope with negative emotions/life events without using those behaviours, so their desperation and self destructiveness in general will escalate. When I eventually stopped self harming my anorexia nearly killed me, and when I finally managed to stop all self destructive behaviours I had a hell of a time trying to learn healthy ways to cope with anxiety. I managed it in the end but I didn’t think I was going to ever be able to function without harming myself at several points during that time. If I’d had help when I first started cutting/starving it would never have ended up like that.

    So yes, cutting might not always escalate for everyone, but self destruction only ever leads to more self destruction. Which kind of sucks when you feel convinced that it’s the only thing keeping you alive, like I did for years. It’s a good realisation to make x

  7. Thank you. I always had a difficult time understanding why overdosing was included in studies of self harm. Without the visual element, being able to see one’s own self-inflicted wound, without the immediacy and the sharp pain of the other forms, it didn’t make sense to me that ODing would be in that category. I tended to think that people who OD’d were either deliberately trying to kill themselves or else really not very bright. But if you go by rational standards alone, I guess none of us is too bright–If you understand properly what we do, though, it is a response to overwhelming emotion in which reason often is entirely lost. This post has broadened and deepened my understanding, BtF, and again I thank you.

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