Dr. Zeerak Attari

This article provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this article, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

Self-harm is when a person physically injures himself. In contrast to attempting suicide, the person inflicting harm to himself does not intend to end their life. This article will contain discussion of self-harm in particular.

For outsiders, self-harm may appear unreasonable and difficult to understand. According to research, approximately 17% of young people harm themselves. This includes temporary and ongoing self-harm. Let us try to understand this complicated subject, so we may help ourselves and those around us.

Our thoughts are the catalysing force behind our every action. Those who have had traumatic experiences in life normally recall those difficult moments; being treated unfairly, being oppressed, not having the love of their parents or facing disgrace, belittlement and indignity at every turn of life. When these painful memories settle in someone's mind, they become caught in a whirlpool of mental anguish, intrusive thoughts, and emotional overload. When an individual’s body is in pain, he may feel better after taking medicine. What medicine will a person take, however, when their mind is anxious? When this reaches breaking point, some then resort to self-harm.

Self-harm can include using razor blades to cut themselves, burning themselves with cigarettes, striking their head against a wall, or using their nails to cut into their skin. This also includes deliberately eating either too little or too much, consuming harmful or dangerous substances, and deliberately undertaking risky activities.

Certain people only adopt one method of self-harm, whilst others employ an array of methods. After self-harming, they feel relief, and a sensation of liberation overcomes them. It is this feeling of relief that drives them to repeatedly self-harm. Eventually, the person comes to believe that they are unable to go on living without self-harming.

Self-harm is not a mental illness, but a symptom of an underlying psychological issue. Alongside mental health, extended or unbearably painful bodily illness can also lead to a person resorting to self-harm. The same may occur if a person suffers from an illness that renders him physically disabled for life.

A person can stop self-harming through self-help or external interventions. Let us first shed light on self-help by answering the following question: How can a person stop himself from self-harm? Enclosed below is a list of practical points of consideration; acting upon them can hopefully bring positive effects.

1.   Self-harm may temporarily convey feelings of relief, but it is not a permanent solution for your problems. Instead, you must find constructive ways of resolving matters.

2.   Remember, self-harm is unlawful and a sin in Islam. Our bodies are a trust given to us by Allah. We are not their owners to do with them as we please. Allah has forbidden us from causing harm to ourselves (Quran, 2:195), so one must give priority to this divine command. Whenever thoughts of self-harm take root in your mind, think of the severe punishment one will incur by disobeying Him.

3.   To reduce negative thoughts, busy yourself with worship. Reading the Quran, for example, invoking blessings on the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم , reciting poetry in praise of him, reading Islamic books, or going to the masjid for supererogatory worship. One should also begin reciting invocations that offer protection against satanic whispers.

4.   Confront your state by trying to understand your thoughts and feelings. What leads to negative thoughts and stirs your emotions? Are places, times, people, or specific events factors for this? Try your best to avoid them as much as possible until you receive appropriate treatment.

5.   If you do self-harm, then try to write down the following points. “Just before I self-harmed, what was I doing and thinking?” “How did I feel during self-harm?” and “How do I feel afterwards?” Doing this will allow you to understand your emotions, which is half the battle. Comprehending your emotions will render the remaining matters easier to address.

6.   Recite لاحول to control your anger. One may also make wudu or ghusl. Exercise can also cause reduction in anger.

7.   Ground yourself by pausing all activities and doing something to relax. When in bed, lay on your stomach and loosen your body, letting every limb relax. Doing this, think of an ocean shore. Allow the sound of the ocean’s flowing tides and the sensation of a cool breeze blowing upon you to enter your mind. Breathe in deeply, and imagine you are drawing in good thoughts with inhale. Then exhale; imagine you are breathing out all negative thoughts and casting them out of you. For a few minutes, try to relax like this at least three or four times a day. Look at natural beauty around you, walk in relaxing surroundings, or even listen to the melodious sounds of birds chirping.

8.   Overcome the sense of inferiority by reminding yourself of your achievements, strengths, and positive qualities. This can be done by making a list of your good qualities and actions. Start listing all your accomplishments alongside this. In the beginning, this will seem exceedingly difficult. If you can, ask your parents, siblings, loved ones, or friends to help. Ask them what good qualities they see in you. Do not fear; take this step forward and you shall find your self-esteem flying in no time.

9.   Take care of your physical and spiritual health. Eat healthy, wholesome foods at suitable times. Create a routine for daily tasks, personal affairs, family, individual worship, and inviting others to goodness and forbidding from evil. Involve yourselves in these tasks every day.

10.   Avoid sins for they erode your faith and make you vulnerable to satanic interferences and the carnal self. Attend the weekly gatherings of Dawat-e-Islami and take part in the weekly Madani Muzakarah, regularly and punctually. The counselling and psychotherapy you can receive in the Madani Muzakarah cannot be found anywhere else.

11.   Some sufferers must also refer to a psychological expert, who will then diagnose their particular case and offer appropriate treatment. Length of treatment can vary from months to years.




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