It’s Self-Harm Awareness Month, and self-harm is when someone hurts themselves on purpose. Cutting is common, but it’s not the only kind of self-harm. Some people burn themselves, pull out hair, or pick at wounds.
Self-harm itself isn’t a mental illness, and it’s not the same as trying to commit suicide, but it can be a sign of a lack of coping skills, borderline personality disorder, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, or PTSD.
Self-harm usually starts during a person’s teenage or young adult years, and it’s usually a result of coping with trauma, neglect, or abuse.
Wanting to hurt yourself can be the result of rage, not knowing how to handle emotions, wanting to trigger endorphins, or simply the desire to feel something “real” instead of emotional numbness.
Self-harm can cause shame, both from the act of hurting yourself and from the scars that are left behind. This can lead to a dangerous cycle where self-harm causes feelings that can lead to more self-harm.
Getting help from a psychiatrist is a key part of treating the underlying issues that cause self-harm. Sometimes, a prescription like an antidepressant will be part of this treatment plan too.
If you suspect a loved one is self-harming, talk to them about how they’re doing and be prepared to hear the answer, even if it’s something that will hurt to hear. Reassure them that you care and offer to help them find treatment.
It’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths.
About 1 out of 3 people are not up to date with their colorectal cancer screening, which can help identify precancerous polyps so you can get them removed before they turn into cancer.
Colorectal Cancer Symptoms
Colorectal cancer often doesn’t cause symptoms, which is why screenings are key to diagnosing cancer.
Those who do have symptoms experience:
Blood in stool
Persistent, ongoing stomach pain and cramps
Unexplained weight loss
Colorectal Cancer Screenings
There are a few different screenings for colorectal cancer available to you. The level of preparation needed for them, invasiveness, and frequency you’ll need them all vary.
Fecal Occult Blood Tests and Fecal Immunochemical Tests
A fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) or a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) can check for hidden blood in your stool, which can be a sign of cancer.
These tests are noninvasive and don’t require a bowel cleanse before your appointment. They also need to be repeated each year because they don’t give your doctor a firsthand look at your colon’s health.
You simply collect your stool sample at home and mail it or bring it in to a lab for processing, and they’ll let you know your results.
A FIT-DNA test checks for blood in the stool as well, but it also looks for DNA changes that may be a sign of cancer or precancerous polyps.
This test is noninvasive and doesn’t require a bowel cleanse before your appointment. They also need to be repeated every 3 years, because they don’t give your doctor a firsthand look at your colon’s health.
You simply collect your stool sample at home and mail it or bring it to a lab for processing, and they’ll let you know your results.
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is similar to a colonoscopy, but it only looks at part of your colon.
This procedure may require a bowel cleansing the night before, but its prep is not as extensive as what’s required for a colonoscopy. It’s usually done in your doctor’s office or a procedure room, and it must be repeated every 5 years.
The procedure involves a thin, flexible scope being inserted into the rectum to view the lower third of the colon so your doctor can look at its condition firsthand. Pieces of tissue can also be removed and evaluated for any abnormal cell changes.
A colonoscopy provides the best view of the entire colon.
Bowel cleansing is required the night before this procedure. It’s usually done in an outpatient surgery center, and it is usually recommended once every 10 years. If your provider is concerned though, they can recommend you have them more frequently.
A thin, flexible scope is inserted into your rectum to view your entire colon. Pieces of tissue or polyps can also be removed and evaluated for any abnormal cell changes.
The Screening That’s Right for You
You should work with your doctor to choose the screening that’s right for you and your situation. No matter which screening you choose, most of our plans will cover 100% of the cost. If more testing or services are needed besides your normal screenings, you may be responsible for paying a copay.
We always hear how we need to spend more time with our loved ones. But it’s hard to find common ground with others. We might not like the same music or have the same hobbies and interests.
In March, many schools celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday (March 2,
1904). This is a great opportunity for kids to learn the legend of these children’s
books. It’s always nice to hear kids get back home and tell us how they now
know about “Green Eggs and Ham.” We have all grown up hearing these stories and
catchy rhymes. Now we don’t have to worry about what we are going to talk about
with our children or grandchildren.
Dr. Seuss has been such an icon for so many years. His books
bring together so many families and generations. When we were children, we
loved the funny characters in these stories and how much fun they had in their
adventures. Dr. Seuss taught us that there is so much more to do on a rainy day
than just looking out the window. That silly cat had so many tricks up his
sleeve (or should I say his hat?).
These stories help with more than just letting your
imagination loose. They teach us valuable lessons. “How the Grinch Stole
Christmas!” really shows us that this holiday is not about material possessions
but about being surrounded by the people you love the most.
“The Lorax” has a character that only thinks about himself
and his success but doesn’t think about how his actions could affect the
environment. This teaches us to think of the long-term effects of our actions.
Now when we spend time with our children or grandchildren,
we can read them a Dr. Seuss book. Enjoy watching them take in all of the
colors, characters, and rhymes. We can teach them the meaning of each story and
share the stories we grew up with. We don’t have to struggle to find something
we both like. Instead, we can really enjoy our time together. And why not get a
couple of laughs in as well?
Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance Northwest, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son.