Ableists to Self-Harmer: “Poor You”

I just read an ‘article‘ of sorts discussing research on the ‘typical’ self-injurer. Result: this random, rushed and frustrated commentary before I dash to the airport:

While there are definitely many who fit some or all of the descriptors mentioned, this research data (from ONE source) most likely came from populations seeking help leaving no representation of people who are not self destructive or disempowered and also practice or cope with self harm. And, what is so horrible about having to pick yourself up now and then? The source website is called “secret shame: you are not the only one” yet wrapped in its attempts of empowerment are repeated points of “oh, we are so sad and self-harming. look at how pathetic we are.” Bullshit.

Speaking as someone in the field of mental health who also has a history with self harm, this is a load of privileged, oppressive crap that feeds the stigma and ‘pity factor’ of mental health conditions. What is being described in this article is depression, not self harm. Sometimes people who practice self-harm are depressed, but sometimes they are not. Many people with self-harm histories are perfectly empowered, many empowered about their self-harm to where it is a positive coping mechanism for them. I’ll be honest; I still struggle with the negative parts of self-harm, but I never tell anyone about it because of articles like this one, that paint people like me as impulsive people who are incapable of having their shit together, deserving pity and ‘help’ with traditional, conformative pathologization.

No one has their shit together all the time, and the expectation for everyone to be shiny and happy constantly is both oppressive and unrealistic. We aren’t robots. (at least I’m not one, no hate for robots). The concept¬† that self-harm = bad feeds stigmas not just on self-harm and mental variance in the more “traditional” sense but also BDSM and related sexual variances, all listed in the DSM as a mental disorder or paraphilia. It is this social construct that is disempowering, that leaves us to feel ashamed. If we could recognize that this experience is part of many people’s realities then we would be getting somewhere.¬† Either way, there is no lack of legitimacy of experience here, nor is there any reason for us to pity ourselves or others about it. Pity does not lead to empowerment.

(sorry if there are typos. no time to edit right now!)