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Expert Q&A - Self Harm, Self Acceptance and Skin Camouflage

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    SianSian Posts: 14 Expert
    hollyjane wrote: »
    Hey, I'm not sure of this has been asked but do you have any tips on how to cope with missing the routine of self-harm? I haven't done it in a week and I miss the feeling it gives me but I know I need to stop.

    Hi Holly,
    Thank you for asking this, it is an important question. It is really great that you have self harmed in a week! I am proud of you. it is also amazing that you recognise that you are missing the routine of it. One of the reasons that it can be tough to recover from self harm is that it can become addictive. I remember being in this routine myself. But I managed to break it. There are two ways to go about this. I'd say you need to work on both short and long term solutions, but you should find out what works for you.

    So for the short term, you can begin by asking yourself what specific feeling you are missing. Does it give you a feeling of control, release or comfort? It may be something else entirely, but try to name the feeling. Then, think about what you could do instead of hurting yourself that could replicate that feeling. There is a great free app called Calm Harm which you can employ when you are feeling the urge to self harm. It instead suggests a whole bunch of things to try instead of self harming. So if you want to express yourself, you could paint on the area you want to harm. If you feel angry and need release, you could try ripping up cardboard boxes. If you feel like your thoughts are jumbled, you could try writing them out on a piece of paper and ripping it up. If you just want to distract yourself, you could researching a topic you are really interested in - if you can't think of anything, have a browse on Wikipedia! These are just a few examples, and none might be right for you.

    Now for the longer term, you'll need to address try thinking about the core reasons that you self harm. It could be that you don't feel good about yourself, or are dealing with a lot fo stress at school or at home, or a combination of lots of things building up. Self harm is a way to deal with difficult emotions, and it can be made worse by feeling of self loathing or worthlessness. When you catch yourself thinking about self harm, ask yourself what has been happening that last hour, or day. Try keeping a diary of your triggers (you can do this in the calm Harm app too, and it is password protected) so you can start to notice any patterns.

    It might feel tough, but think of it in terms of just making it through every hour without harming yourself. Think, i will make a cup of tea and drink it all before I harm. Usually then the urge will have gone away. If it hasn't make yourself wait until the next day, and see how you feel when you wake up. Every day that you don't self harming will help you to break that old routine and build a new healthier one. Another app you could try is the Sober one - you can track how many days you are 'clean'. I know some people are sharing their milestones about this on TikTok. That could be encouraging for you, if you see others celebrating weeks/months/years free from self harm.

    As well as thinking about why you hurt yourself, try to focus on how you felt afterwards. Not directly afterwards, but maybe an hour or two after. I know that I usually regretted what i did, I felt guilty and ashamed and just plain rubbish. This usually make you want to harm more. This is one reason why it is important to stop. It is really great that you say you know you need to stop, but i want you to think about why this is. Do you want to get better, and find new ways to cope with your feelings? Do you want to let your body heal? Do you want to be able to talk to someone about it? Write down why you want to stop and come back to it when you are doubting yourself. Please remember that you absolutely do not deserve pain, or to hurt yourself. You deserve to treat yourself with love and kindness, the way you treat the people you love. You deserve to get better because you are worthy.

    Finally, if you relapse and harm again, take a deep breath and think "that's OK, just because I have harmed now it doesn't make me a failure, it doesn't mean I have ruined everything, and I can just try again."

    I believe in you!
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    SianSian Posts: 14 Expert
    Shaunie wrote: »
    Thank you for answering my question just one more long question

    Maybe TW

    Say it’s summer & you have to go to work & you work at Primark (sweaty bodies makes it ten times worse they have more air con in the managers offices which is prett unfair) anyway & you can’t wear long sleeves in summer because you sweat too much at your arm pits. (Sorry this is so specific 😂) and short sleeves is the best way possible to reduce sweatness like let air get to your pits loll. Anyway to me excessive sweating is more embarrassing than scars cause I’m female feels very weird cause get over anxious so yeah that happens but anyway say you’re in this situation but you recently self harmed. And it is either really fresh or has a scab over it or half way through healing. What do you do? And wearing long sleeves is not an option. I do actually have a deodorant that really helps it but when it’s like the hottest day of the year then it does nothing.

    I'd say @Lou_ is best place to answer this!

    But from my perspective, from when I have had this same issue, I use sudocream to speed up the healing process. It stops the harm from looking so angry and irritated. I also used to try rubbing foundation over the scabs, then brushing powder over it so it doesn't stick to everything. You could maybe also try a thing mesh long sleeve top - so you won't sweat but you also don't need to worry about covering up in another way.

    Equally, you don't need to hide, if you don't want to :)
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    GreenTeaGreenTea Posts: 12,938 Born on Earth, Raised by The Mix
    Worrying my questions been missed (yay anxiety) so re posting


    Hello, I'm struggling to come to terms with my scars from self harm. I'm very self conscious about being judged or seen in a bad way because of them, therefore I'm very particular about what I wear. Do you have any advice on how to accept your scars and how to face the fear of being judged?
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    DancerDancer Community Champion Posts: 7,794 Master Poster
    Not sure if this question has accidentally been missed but I will put it in a spoiler in case it is triggering.
    What do you think is the hardest thing about relapsing on something that could be harmful?
    "There's a part of me I can't get back. A little girl grew up too fast. All it took was once. I'll never be the same." ~ Demi Lovato
    "The way that I have found the light in my life is through the expressive arts because I know that I will be accepted for the way I am." ~ Me
    "I'm going to get strong again and see you soon. " ~ Anonymous 
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    SianSian Posts: 14 Expert
    GreenTea wrote: »
    Hello, I'm struggling to come to terms with my scars from self harm. I'm very self conscious about being judged or seen in a bad way because of them, therefore I'm very particular about what I wear. Do you have any advice on how to accept your scars and how to face the fear of being judged?

    Hi, Thank you for asking this. I'm sorry to hear you are struggling to come to terms with your scars. I know it is hard. But I believe it is possible to learn to accept your scars. It just may take a little time and patience and self-compassion.

    As my bio says I have been self harming (with long periods of being clean in between) for about a decade and yet I still have flashes of insecurity when I see the scars. But what i have learnt over time is that people are much less bothered about it than you might expect. This of course doesn't mean there might not be somebody who makes a nasty comment, but on the most part people just ignore it. I think this is because most people feel awkward about it and don't want to be rude. Which is fine by me! But it is also because people are actually much more self-absorbed than we realise. People are focused on what they are doing, and how they look to others, rather than on their skin.

    Still, I know this doesn't mean much when you are worried about being seen in a bad way because of your self harm. This is because society stigmatised self harm so much, and we are often taught that self harm is a taboo that we should be ashamed of. This is a load of rubbish. We are not dirty, ugly or inappropriate. We are people dealing with a lot of pain and emotion. Every deals with their overwhelming emotions in different ways - so do not judge yourself for how you deal with yours.

    When you are feeling self-conscious, remember that you are trying to read people's minds. We never really know what people are thinking, and assuming that we do can drive us crazy. Also, you cannot control what people think of you. This may sound scary, but it is liberating. It means that whatever you do, or however you look, they will go on thinking whatever they think, anyway. So don't let others dictate your life (i.e how you dress). This is your life to live as you wan t to, and that means wearing the clothes you really want to wear. Maybe you could try to imagine you are wearing a suit of rubber, and the (potential) thoughts of others are drops of water. They may splash at you, but they will just roll right off, and you'll stay dry.

    I say this as somebody who worries about what others think a lot of the time, but spending our time feeling self-conscious and worrying about being judged is such a waste of time and energy. Imagine if we could try to channel that energy in noticing the things around us, tuning into the conversation we are having, or really letting ourselves enjoy the dance. Imagine how great that would be! It's possible, one step at a time :)

    In terms of learning to accept your scars, it is important to recognise that

    They don't define who you are

    They are a sign of how far you have come since, and how much more healing you have left to do

    They are there because you were hurting, and that is ok. We cannot beat ourselves up for struggling.

    Self harm is more common than you would think and you never know who has scars that we can't see. The people who you feel self-conscious around may have self-harmed themselves, or know someone who has.

    Being confident in your skin shows the world that self harm is nothing to be ashamed of. We shouldn't live in the shadows just because we bear the scars of our pain.

    Facing our fears is scary, but the sense of triumph that comes with challenging them is much more powerful than the fear itself. Take a deep breath and put yourself out there and see how it feels. You don't need to have an A* in confidence every day,; it is ok if sometimes you wan to hide in your clothing. But on days where you feel a little more capable, try wearing something without worrying whether your scars are visible. Think about how accomplished you will feel by the end of the day!!

    I am proud of you for reaching out, and believe in you :)
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    SianSian Posts: 14 Expert
    Dancer wrote: »
    What do you think is the hardest thing about relapsing on something that could be harmful?

    Great question. I think the hardest part is feeling like you have 'failed' somehow because you have harmed yourself again. This isn't true - just because we relapse it doesn't mean we have to fall into the same routine, or that all the time we spent not harming ourselves means less now. It doesn't. It is still a great achievement and tomorrow is a new day where you recovery beings again.

    I think it is also hard because you remember that, in the short term, it can make you feel better. You remember why you harm yourself. This is dangerous. But you have to remember why you stopped for so long, and that the fact that you spent so long in recovery without relapsing shows that it is possible.
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    SianSian Posts: 14 Expert
    Mike wrote: »
    Thanks so much @Lou_! Awesome to have you and your expertise with us. :)

    Just chipping in with one more anonymous question:
    In the past I used to self harm and I don't know how to be able to forgive myself despite not having scars. How can I try and accept myself for struggling?

    Thank you for asking, that sounds really difficult. Firstly I want to say that not all self harm looks like self harm, and your experience is still valid without scars.

    I know it can be difficult to come to terms with the fact that you have been hurting yourself. When you don't have anyone close to you who also self harms, it can make you feel alone, like a weirdo who has done a bad thing to themselves. But thats' so far from reality. In reality, many many many people self harm (an estimated quarter of young people, although the true figures are likely much higher, as this depends on people coming forward), and this includes celebrities and so called 'successful people. So you are not alone. Many other people have been where you have. Around one in four of us experience mental health issues in our lifetimes, and while sefl harm is not a mental health issue in itself, it is linked to them. It can be helpful to think about how you would react if someone you love told you there were struggling to accept themselves for struggling. It would hurt to hear, because you know that they can't help how they feel, and would comfort and support them. You deserve the same treatment. You do not deserve to keep punishing yourself for something outside of your control. I sometimes tell myself I am weak and get angry at myself for not being able to cope. But that's unfair, because I am doing my best. i cannot help that I have all these difficult emotions and negative thoughts - all I can do is try to work on them (as it sounds like you have) and accept myself either way. You deserve forgiveness, love and comfort. You deserve to recognise how strong you are for recovering. You deserve to live your life full of love and acceptance and joy. You got this x

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    SianSian Posts: 14 Expert
    I want to say a massive thank you to everyone for sharing and asking so many questions. It gave me a lot to think about (I need to take my own advice!) and I really hope I helped in some way. Massive hugs to you all ! you are fantastic, and you can recover! Stay strong x
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    ConnorConnor Deactivated Posts: 508 Incredible Poster
    Question just came in:
    What do I do if my family see my scars frim self harming but do not know about it?
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    DancerDancer Community Champion Posts: 7,794 Master Poster
    Thank you for answering our questions and for providing us with some great advice.
    "There's a part of me I can't get back. A little girl grew up too fast. All it took was once. I'll never be the same." ~ Demi Lovato
    "The way that I have found the light in my life is through the expressive arts because I know that I will be accepted for the way I am." ~ Me
    "I'm going to get strong again and see you soon. " ~ Anonymous 
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    Lou_Lou_ Posts: 14 Expert
    hi folks just on now this evening after my Covid vaccination.

    if i can help please send your questions my way
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    Lou_Lou_ Posts: 14 Expert
    Shaunie wrote: »
    Thank you for answering my question just one more long question

    Maybe TW

    Say it’s summer & you have to go to work & you work at Primark (sweaty bodies makes it ten times worse they have more air con in the managers offices which is prett unfair) anyway & you can’t wear long sleeves in summer because you sweat too much at your arm pits. (Sorry this is so specific 😂) and short sleeves is the best way possible to reduce sweatness like let air get to your pits loll. Anyway to me excessive sweating is more embarrassing than scars cause I’m female feels very weird cause get over anxious so yeah that happens but anyway say you’re in this situation but you recently self harmed. And it is either really fresh or has a scab over it or half way through healing. What do you do? And wearing long sleeves is not an option. I do actually have a deodorant that really helps it but when it’s like the hottest day of the year then it does nothing.

    Hi @Shaunie great question and I might get the name of that deodorant it sounds mighty powerful.
    If you are not concerned about your scars that is great however, you do need to make sure you don't knock the scaring which may make them bleed. Workplaces may have a policy of covering broken skin especially if it is bleeding of scabbed so you should check this one out and if you need to cover you could wear a very light gauze sleeve which is breathable. If they are OK on a tattoo's being visible some of my clients have bought tattoo sleeves to wear whilst their skin heals. if you go for camouflage products they are sweat and water proof.
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    Lou_Lou_ Posts: 14 Expert
    hollyjane wrote: »
    Hey, I'm not sure of this has been asked but do you have any tips on how to cope with missing the routine of self-harm? I haven't done it in a week and I miss the feeling it gives me but I know I need to stop.

    @hollyjane be proud of yourself you really are doing so well. You deserve to be kind to yourself because you are worth it. Your skin needs time to repair ,you could try getting into a routine of massaging your skin with a moisturizing cream and also a silicone gel. This may take some time to before you feel comfortable doing this. You could start on the surrounding skin and then progress to the scars themselves. The silicone gel may flatten the scars depending on the age of them. Scarring of any sort can be itchy at the healing stage and the moisturizing action will reduce this and become routine for you. Camouflage products can be used but only on healed and sealed skin.
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    Lou_Lou_ Posts: 14 Expert
    Mike wrote: »
    Thanks so much @Lou_! Awesome to have you and your expertise with us. :)

    Just chipping in with one more anonymous question:
    In the past I used to self harm and I don't know how to be able to forgive myself despite not having scars. How can I try and accept myself for struggling?

    @Mike I can't see if this has been answered but here is my take.
    we can't change what we did yesterday or what happened yesterday but we can go forward and realize that everyone struggles over some issues visible or not. Be kind to yourself. Everyday is a new start.
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    SienaSiena Posts: 15,497 Skive's The Limit
    Thank you both. The deodorant I used it driclor from Boots You put it on at night but it is VERRRYYY uncomfortable and ITCHYYY like painfully itchy.


    I’ll try those thanks !
    “And when they look at you, they won't see everything you've been through. They won't see the **** that turned to scars that began to fade with time. They won't see the heartbreaking things that shook up and changed your entire world. They won't know how many tears you cried or even what it was you were crying about. They won't see how strong you had to be because you had no other choice. What they will see though is how compassionate you are because you experienced pain. What they will see is how kind you are because you experienced how cruel the world is. What they will see is how good you are because you've seen how bad things or people can be. The difference between you and your experiences are who you choose to be, despite everything that could have turned you cold and unkind.You are the good the world needs and the best of us.” ~ Kirsten Corley
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    Lou_Lou_ Posts: 14 Expert
    Shaunie wrote: »
    Thank you both. The deodorant I used it driclor from Boots You put it on at night but it is VERRRYYY uncomfortable and ITCHYYY like painfully itchy.


    I’ll try those thanks !

    @Shaunie hey thanks for your advice.
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    Lou_Lou_ Posts: 14 Expert
    Connor wrote: »
    Question just came in:
    What do I do if my family see my scars frim self harming but do not know about it?

    @Connor take time and explain that you have scars (obvious i know) that you would like support and understanding. You could refer them to some further information so they can understand more about your scars. Your family love you and want to support you.
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    Lou_Lou_ Posts: 14 Expert
    GreenTea wrote: »
    Worrying my questions been missed (yay anxiety) so re posting


    Hello, I'm struggling to come to terms with my scars from self harm. I'm very self conscious about being judged or seen in a bad way because of them, therefore I'm very particular about what I wear. Do you have any advice on how to accept your scars and how to face the fear of being judged?

    @GreenTea I agree with everything Sian has said. For the days you feel you may want to cover up you could try camouflage products. Some people find they prefer their scars but at least the option is there. I have included more information on products and websites which may be worth looking at.

    Under current government restrictions you are unlikely to find a camouflage practitioner who can match your skin colour with products suitable for camouflaging skin conditions.

    In the meantime we would suggest you contact the following companies to request samples to enable you to match the colour of product to your skin there will be a charge for this. Please review the websites as most have excellent videos on how to apply which may be of help at this time.

    The following companies have camouflage products suitable for covering skin conditions.
    Contact details:
    Dermacolor
    Website: https://uk.kryolan.com/product-lines/dermacolor
    Email: s.rose@kryolan.com
    Tel No: 01277 812 908.

    Keromask
    www.keromask.com
    Tel no: +44 (0) 1634 893891
    Email: MAIL@KEROMASK.COM.
    Discount code: BASC0320

    Dermablend
    Email: medical.uki@loreal.com
    Please contact the above email address for samples

    Veil
    https://www.veilcovercream.com/
    Discount on full size product only

    Covermark
    https://dermauk.co.uk/public-product/covermark/
    Discount code: BASC 21 –this discount code is only available for March 2021.


    Further help can be found from patient groups associated with your skin condition. The British association of dermatology has a section on patient support information.
    https://www.bad.org.uk/patient-support-groups

    http://www.acnesupport.org.uk. This British Association of dermatology website has full information on acne, treatments, Covering acne (camouflage) and support. This website is also good for advice on general camouflage which you should find helpful regardless of your skin condition.

    Please find contact details from the Samaritans https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/
    Or Tel 116 123





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    Lou_Lou_ Posts: 14 Expert
    Thank you for all your questions - we at the British association of skin camouflage are privileged that you have let us share your world. You are on a journey which some days are difficult but we hope you will be kind to yourselves. Thank you to the Mix for the amazing support the give.

    I am happy to answer any questions on camouflage at any time.

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    Salix_alba_2019Salix_alba_2019 Deactivated Posts: 1,646 Extreme Poster
    Hey I hope it isn't too late to ask!

    Why do people often feel the need to escalate the level of self-harm that they use?
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