Eating disorders have been statistically linked to self harm tactics like cutting and burning, and the overall reasoning is to do with control and self-loathing, not attention for those who label the disorder with little understanding.
No person would harm their own bodies unless desperate or feeling like there was another path to take, so for those who criticize, it is time to learn.
Those with these problems can be spurred from as little as an argument with a friend or something as serious as physical abuse. Approximately half of all teenagers who self harm will never do it again – they merely do it to “see what it is like”, in which case they scare themselves enough never to do it again. On the other hand they do it to satisfy emotions that they can not release verbally, which are the cases when the harm continues.
Forms of self harm like cutting and eating disorders in children are climbing Mount Everest because of teens finding it so complex to manage emotions. These emotions can stem from a number of conflicting sensations – anger, upset, hurt, control, violence and low self-worth and esteem.
Low levels of self-worth can prompt individuals to self-harm, whilst others use it as a way to control the external. Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia can often be found in those who experience these emotions, and the hindrance of these symptoms has become even harder because of glorification websites that promote skinniness to the stages of pro ana, and also sites that endorse self harm, where people post pictures like a competition of those who can get the skinniest, and acquire the most cuts on their arms.
However, do not misinterpret this message. These feelings are completely understandable and not to be criticized. These are disorders, and they are not only applicable to teens but to adults also. Both generations can become so obsessed and influenced by eating disorders and self-harm sites at such a young age that it will continue to affect their lives until death.
The main problem is that any sense of control is quickly lost when the harming behavior takes over and the person is incapable of stopping. People who harm their bodies over a long period of time become addicted to their condition, and it is no longer a choice. These are the people who definitely need medical and psychological help and support, and they can either contact their GP or ask family and friends to help them find a suitable rehabilitation center to guide them towards the way of recovery, hopefully before it is too late.
Unmanageable emotions can often lead to a numbness. People can feel low for no particular reason at all, which leads to a self-loathing of not only towards themselves, but also others around them, who are the people most probably trying to help. This cyclical process of harm becomes habitual and it can be as hard to break as drug-use. Feelings of segregation become the leading role and situations at home or school can become extremely difficult and painful.
Some indications to look out for are: continuously wearing long sleeves, unexplained cuts, depression, withdrawal, drug-use, history of abuse, perfectionism, anxiety, constant dieting, binge eating, compulsive exercise patters, changes in food preferences, food preparation and planning and extreme weight loss.
However, eating disorders and self harm in children affect everyone differently, and although these issues appear to be climbing Mount Everest, to the children suffering they just have to know they are not alone and do not have to feel like this forever. Help will be there whenever they are willing to accept it, and as for parents, they need to make this biblical knowledge. Eating disorders and self hard are extremely common but not the final chapter.
Op-Ed by Melissa McDonald