In response to my previous post, I have been asked to compile some resources for people who self-harm. There are already a multitude of lists and websites doing so, and I have gathered some of these here in addition to my own thoughts. Helpguide.org has an article on self-harm, and I really like the introduction that they wrote:
“Self-harm is a way of expressing and dealing with deep distress and emotional pain. As counterintuitive as it may sound to those on the outside, hurting yourself can make you feel better. In fact, you may feel like you have no choice. Injuring yourself is the only way you know how to cope with feelings like sadness, self-loathing, emptiness, guilt, and rage.
The problem is that the relief that comes from self-harming doesn’t last very long. It’s like slapping on a Band-Aid when what you really need are stitches. It may temporarily stop the bleeding, but it doesn’t fix the underlying injury. It also creates its own problems.
If you’re like most people who self-injure, you probably try to keep what you’re doing secret. Maybe you feel ashamed or maybe you just think that no one would understand. But hiding who you are and what you feel is a heavy burden. Ultimately, the secrecy and guilt affects your relationships with your friends and family members and the way you feel about yourself. It can make you feel even more lonely, worthless, and trapped.” (https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/cutting-and-self-harm.htm)
The cycle of self-harm is vicious. Once you enter it, it’s really hard to get out. It takes a lot of hard work and self-perseverance to successfully quit self-harming. The most important thing to remember is that YOU need to be ready to change. You are going to have to do all the hard work- no one can do it for you. Here are some things to start you on your journey to quitting self-harm:
- Confide in someone
However hard it may seem, tell someone. Tell someone that you trust- not just anyone. Before you make the decision to confide in someone, make sure that you are comfortable with the idea. I suggest that when you tell someone, you begin by ensuring that they will not share it with anyone without asking for your permission. You should ensure that they are in a position to help you- this help can be through a multitude of forms. It could be as simple as giving you support- listening to you when you need to talk, and just being there for you. I should stress this fact: remember that if you tell someone like a school official (whether it be a teacher or counselor), they are required to share this information with your parents and work on getting you help (usually through the form of counseling, though that also depends on your parent’s reaction). If you are already in counseling, and choose to tell your mental health provider, their response may vary largely. I have had two extremes in this case: I told one of my first counselors about the fact that I self-harm, and she sectioned me to be hospitalized. I have also told my current counselor about this, and she talked to me and worked with me to work through it. Whoever you choose to tell, the most important thing to remember is that you ought to trust them.
If you do not feel comfortable confiding in someone in your personal life, you can turn to people online. There are many forums out there that offer support for people with mental illnesses and those that self-harm. My personal favorite is www.recoveryourlife.com . I have turned to it many times over the years for support.
- Be open to receiving help from others
Before you even think about asking for help, be open to receiving that help. Nothing is going to change if you are not open to help, and if you aren’t, everyone is just going to get frustrated. I remember that when I first thought about asking for help, I wasn’t ready to get that help. I just thought I was. You have to reach that point in your journey when you realize you can’t do it all by yourself, and that you need help from others. Only then are you open to receive help. Before that point, nothing will change.
- Get plenty of exercise
Exercise increases the amount of serotonin in your brain, which makes you feel happier. Getting plenty of exercise is a great method of combating self-harm. It could be as simple as getting out and walking every day for half an hour. It will make you feel better, and once you make it part of your routine, it will work wonders.
- Recognize your cutting triggers
Know what makes you self-harm. This is VERY important, as once you recognize your triggers, you are able to avoid them. Or, if you are not able to avoid them, you can work through them. You can recognize them, acknowledge them, and then dismiss them by NOT cutting. For example, my triggers are:
- Being scared
- Feeling empty and sad
I am not able to avoid stress or my hallucinations. Work and school are very stressful, and with stress my hallucinations are worse. Since I am not able to avoid these, and I deal with them on a daily basis, it takes a lot of strength to recognize these triggers and then dismissing the urge to cut. The thing to remember is that it is possible to work through your triggers- you don’t have to give in to them and hurt yourself.
- Learn new coping skills for dealing with stress
There are a multitude of coping skills out there. There are many lists on the internet of different ones you could try. You can find some of these here:
While there are thousands of coping skills out there, not all may work for you. I know I have tried many that ended up not working out for me. Instead, I focused on the ones that do work for me. The trusted coping skills that I go to in times of stress and when I’m feeling triggered include:
- Coloring, drawing, or painting
- Petting my cats
- Organizing things
Self-harming isn’t something to joke up. It’s not something that you can just ignore. It’s important that you reach out for help.