Originally Posted by Emaye
I kinda of wish we had a private area where we can discuss mental health issues (both our own and loved ones). The sub forum in MDC is totally open and I do not like that. It has not been very active either. Hardly anyone posts there.
I agree. The mental health forum is useless as is, and there isn't a safe place on here to discuss things.
Originally Posted by Emaye
OP I hope you are okay with the answers you received.
Well this is a bit hard to read but I figured that when I first started the thread. Unfortunately it's gotten harder than I expected but that's OK.
I want to clarify something though. I have a lot of experience with mental illness, both first-hand & second-hand, plus it's something I've heavily read & researched personally & formally. There are tons of different forms that mental illness can take. Schizophrenia vs. depression vs. alcoholism vs. bipolar vs. anorexia are all so completely different and then of course each disease displays differently for different individuals. To be honest, when I think of self-injury, I don't even think of mental illness first. While a large portion of people who self-injure also have some form of mental illness, what I first think of with self-injury is trauma. Many people who self-injure do so not because of a deep-lying mental illness or personality disorder, but because it's a way to cope with intense emotional pain or numbness. Someone mentioned up-thread that people who self-injure don't deal with stress well... and that may be true to some extent, and at some point everyday stresses often do become a serious problem, but often it's not the little everyday stresses that aren't dealt with well, but the stresses of trauma, the stresses of repeated flashbacks, body memories, constant numbness, feelings of worthlessness, dissociation, etc. that arise in direct response to having been hurt, shamed, threatened, abused, etc. It's not that you can't handle the stress of a messy house or forgetting your wallet, it's that you can't handle the stress of the reality that you've survived a rape or child abuse or attempted murder or whatever.
This is too huge a topic to neatly respond to in one succinct post... and even harder because this is not a closed forum. I can't say everything I want to here, but I will say just a bit more.
I am surprised that some feel that mental illness is 'contagious'... I do know in high-schoolers there is some evidence of a social aspect to self-injury. I do know some people experiment with eating disorders after witnessing a friend lose so much weight so 'easily'... But I think there is a huge distinction between social cutting, or experimenting with starving/purging, and someone who actually goes on to develop full-blown anorexia, or continues to self-injure... I don't think the latter is contagious, and the former, while potentially dangerous, isn't all that different than the normal drug/sex/etc. experimentation that often goes on in high school. Trying out various behaviors is not the same thing as having a mental illness and having a mental illness isn't usually contagious (I say 'usually' because I'm thinking of cases like mass hysteria, but things like that are generally short-lived, especially if the media doesn't get involved), no more than smoking pot a few times would turn you into a cocaine addict, though yes, it might slightly increase the risk in susceptible individuals.
I also want to reiterate that people who self-injure generally hide it. In some instances someone might flaunt their scars and injuries or actively hurt themselves in front of others, but most people don't -- there might be one or two 'safe' people who know about it but that usually wouldn't be your child!! Most people who cut would never ever dream of doing it in front of anyone, nevermind a child. Most people who self-injure are a danger only to themselves, not others. And many people who self-injure are very, very safe people to have around your child -- like a previous poster said, they may be extra in-tune to keeping children safe because of what happened to them.
Wow it's hard to respond to all this carefully & I doubt I'm really helping much but I am glad that I asked this question because I did need to know how open-minded mamas might respond to the situation I posed. Very helpful to have these answers, even if they are negative, sad, uniformed, or hurtful, and especially good to know that there are others out there who do understand...