Women Promote Healthy Coping Skills for People who Self-Harm

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HARLINGEN - Some people in the Rio Grande Valley are overwhelmed with their problems and cope with them in a dangerous way.

Aside from people living with mental health and disabilities, people who cope by inflicting self-injuries in their bodies cannot be ignored either.

Chantal McCorry said it takes time to understand oneself and move on to a healthier life. She’s currently working to reach people who suffered just like her.

“I was a cutter, and I had attempted a few times in my teen years,” she said.

McCorry said she resorted to cutting her own skin after she was molested at an early age in the 80s.

“That was unheard of. No one spoke of things like that. Mental illness was never mentioned,” she said.

McCorry said it took years to come to terms with what happened. She discovered she likes to build collages and paint on her own walls to recall memories.

“I’m in a much better place, so now I can mentor,” she said.

McCorry now speaks to people who are much younger. She works with therapist Priscilla Bernal who just started a program at Holistic Optimal Health Center in Harlingen.

 “Not necessarily does it mean that they actually want to die. They don’t,” Bernal said. “They just want to end the pain. And they use these coping skills - very unhealthy coping skills - to get rid of that pain.”

Bernal said a patient searching for other ways to cope is the key to recover. She said it could be something to distract them, whether it be drawing, painting or running.

“Your mind goes somewhere. The pain that you’re feeling at that point, it’s very strong,” Bernal said. “And you feel like it might not pass, but it will pass.”

The therapist said her program was able to get at least six teenagers to stop doing self-harm since April. She said their triggers could be family conflict, bullying or drug abuse.

McCorry said she tries to reach them by explaining how her art helps her cope. She said regardless of what she does, she can’t escape the past.

“I may have these scars, but these scars remind me of where I’ve been and what I’ve survived,” she said.

McCoory said she knows she can mold her future by taking it into her own hands.

Bernal said there are three things you need to do if you’re facing these kinds of problems. A person needs to figure out what’s causing their problem or what’s triggering it. They can later figure out the best way to cope with their problem in a healthy way. Finally, seek professional help.

If you have thoughts of hurting yourself and need someone to talk to, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. They’ll help answer any questions you have and tell you where you can get help. 


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