When people talk about “self-harm,” they’re usually referring to self-mutilation behaviors like cutting. But cutting is not the only way people self-harm — in fact, sometimes self-harm doesn’t “look” like self-harm at all.
Mighty contributor Catherine Renton wrote eloquently about this in her piece, “The Behavior I Didn’t Realize Was Actually Self-Harm.” Renton realized the casual sex she engaged in was actually a way she had been harming herself. She wrote,
Self-harm isn’t always about causing physical pain. It’s continually tugging at that thread that will cause you to unravel. Sadly, what can start as fairly innocuous behavior can lead to more serious harm and even attempts at suicide.
Self-harm doesn’t always manifest physically, and self-destructive behavior can crop up in areas of our lives we may not be aware of.
Maybe you put everyone else’s needs above your own to the point of burnout so frequently, it’s a way you are hurting yourself with or without realizing it. Maybe you tend to push people away, and in sabotaging your relationships, you are actually subconsciously self-sabotaging. Or maybe you use outwardly “healthy” behaviors like exercise to extreme excess and end up hurting yourself.
We wanted to know what behaviors people engaged in that they realized were actually self-harm, so we turned to our Mighty community to share their experiences. You can read what they shared with us below.
It’s important to remember not all of the behaviors listed are automatically self-harm. For example, avoiding going to the doctor may be the result of a struggle with anxiety, not self-harm. Often what makes a behavior self-destructive is the harmful thought process behind the behavior.
Here’s what our community shared with us: