Self-harming behaviour is one of the most difficult of the many behaviours exhibited and/or experienced by some bipolar persons. Self-harm comes in two flavours basically: 1) deliberate self-injury such as cutting, stabbing, burning, scab-picking, scratching, hair-pulling, biting etc., and 2) all cases where the person puts themselves at risk of great harm such as driving while under the influence of intoxicating substances or in any other way that tempts fate in a risky manner.

If you can imagine being in so much pain or experiencing such self-loathing that it is an internal physical pain, that can't be dealt with in any other way than by a physical release of some sort, you may come just a little closer to understanding why some of us self-harm. Self-harming behaviour isn't suicidal behaviour, or at least not inherently so. People who self-injure express a strong need to "let out" the pain by cutting and other ways; they claim that they experience a sense of peacefulness that cannot be obtained in another less harmful manner. Sometimes the self-harm does go awry and the person will die, but that is usually the exception. Some self-harmers in a mixed state experience such self-loathing for their physical person that self-harming seems a deserved end in itself. Whatever the compelling factor, these are tortured folks trying to deal with a horrid mood in the only way they can find that is acceptable at that time. Because self-harming is often part of a mixed state it can escalate into suicidal behaviour and so it isn't ever to be taken lightly. The emotional pain is very real and they need someone with them to help them not self-harm. There's no way to tell you, the person who loves the self-injurer, exactly what to do in this situation, but being there and listening in  a non-confrontational manner is the option least likely to escalate the mood. Do not EVER make the assumption that self-harming is "just an attention-getting" thing! It's not, and to say such to a person in so much pain is very akin to putting a nail in their coffin. Don't do it!



Self-harming resources...