Curbing Self-Harm Urges

When you’re in one of those intense waves of depression, it can be difficult to think clearly. I’ve struggled with this countless times, there were times where I thought the only way to calm down or feel better was to self-harm.

For seven years I’ve been faced with the decision on whether to cut or not. I have chosen to act on that desire more times than I will ever admit. They are scars I never want to count. Turning this into a positive, I’ve said no many more times than I have said yes.

Coping mechanisms and rational thinking have helped me through this tough journey. Here are a few things that have helped me:

Rubber Bands and Hair Ties

One of the first coping mechanisms I learned about was snapping a hair tie or rubber band wherever I wanted to hurt myself. This really hurts depending on how hard you snap it. It has helped me and of course there are no scars left afterwards which is a plus.

Find a Distraction

Finding something to take your mind off of the urge to self-harm, anything positive or makes you feel better. My most often technique is to play a video on YouTube that I can really pay attention to. I will watch very intently to push the desire to hurt myself back down into my brain.

Sometimes I’ll combine this with knitting, covering up with fuzzy blankets and dabbing essential oil on my wrists to engage more of my senses. I’ve learned the more senses I can engage, the easier it is to distract myself from my own thoughts.

Leave

Wherever you’re at try and leave that place even for a couple minutes to clear your mind. Go to a different part of your house/apartment, go to Target (that place has healing powers), walk around your block or sit in your bathroom for a moment. A change of scenery can sometimes put me in a different state of mind.

Think of Someone You Love

This can be a sensitive topic for someone with mental illness because so often we are told by our depression that there is nobody who loves us. My brain has screamed that at me for so many years that it can be difficult not to believe it.

Let’s push the possibility that depression is right out of the picture; there is someone who deeply cares for you. Think about that person before you hurt yourself. If that person was in the room with you, what would they say? If you showed them the marks, how would they respond?

One of the things that has helped me not resort to self-injury is thinking about my boyfriend. I know he doesn’t want me to do that to myself, it has brought him to tears seeing what I have done. So I think of that moment, I think of him because my actions don’t only affect me, they affect him too.

Well that last part got intense for me. I’m going to write a couple more posts about self-harm that I hope can be encouraging/relatable for anyone reading. I’ve been ashamed to tell anyone that I’ve cut myself on and off for 7 years but right now I feel brave enough to share my experience with others.

Stay strong and I hope you’ll all be alright! –Megan

Let’s Discuss Self-Harm

Self-harm is a topic, just like suicide, that a lot of people refrain from talking about. There’s a group of us who walk around every day with physical scars that we either embrace or try to hide. We can be in control for years, months, weeks, days or hours then fall victim to this habit.

I don’t want anybody to be triggered by this so if you are already feeling inclined to hurt yourself, just skip this post.

I started my journey of self-harm when I was 18 in my first semester of college. I felt completely alone starting school in a place where I knew almost no one in a town hours away from home. To help with the loneliness and depression, I would scratch myself. This escalated to cutting myself up and down my arms every day for around a month when my roommate was at work.

A friend, who I have lost touch with now, saw my cuts while we were out to dinner and kindly confronted me about it. He told me that he was there for me whenever I needed him, he kept that promise too.

I wish my journey would have ended there but I have continued to self harm on and off ever since. There has yet to be a full year that I have not hurt myself. Maybe in the future I will get to that point but right now I am 7 months clean.

It’s important to talk about self-harm and the many forms that it takes (cutting, burning, restricting food, etc.). Those of us that struggle with this habit can feel ashamed when what we really need is love and compassion. Having a support is nice to have whether you tell them that you are hurting yourself or not. Just having someone to love you and that you can talk to is really uplifting.

For me, it’s been very hard to completely quit hurting myself. In my next post I’m going to write up some of the tips that have helped me restrain myself from cutting. Here are a few posts that include tips about curbing suicidal thoughts.

If you’re struggling with self-harm, I understand your pain. I hope that you can make it through this challenging part of your life, you are stronger than you think you are!

–Megan