Self harm is something I’ve been battling for years now. Even though I’m slowly starting to break the habit, the urges and the thoughts are still recurring. Here’s some information I’ve come across that I found useful and hope it may be useful to someone else too.
Suggestions for Breaking the Cycle of Self Harm
It’s hard to break free from the cycle of self-harm – but a good place to start is by sharing how you feel with a counsellor or therapist. The following guidelines can help with this:
1. First, it takes a lot of courage to talk about self-harm – so be patient and understanding with yourself, and share in a way that is comfortable for you. For example, if talking face-to-face feels too threatening right now then start by writing your experiences down – in an email, a letter, or a journal you can share. Also, only share with others what you’re ready to share, and only answer questions that you feel you want to answer.
2. Second, bear in mind that it’s often very stressful to talk about something as deeply upsetting as self-harm – so you may feel even worse after sharing in a session. Realise that this is normal, and it doesn’t mean you’re worse. Also, old patterns and habits can be difficult to break – but in time you will feel better, less empty and alone.
3. It is often very helpful to isolate the triggers that lead to the feeling that you want to self-harm. Next, brainstorm better ways of dealing with the pain.
4. For example,
(i) If you turn to self-harm to express how you feel, experiment with using the following instead:
· Art (painting, drawing, and so on)
· Writing (journaling, song writing, poetry, and so on)
· Writing down your feelings – then destroying the paper
· Listening to music that expresses how feel.
(ii) If you use self-harm to calm and soothe yourself
· Try relaxing in the bath, or wrapping yourself up in a cosy, warm blanket
· Spend time playing with your favourite pet
· Talk to a friend
· Listen to relaxing music
(iii) If you cut because you can’t access your feelings
· Talk to a friend (and maybe try to laugh together)
· Try placing an ice cube on different parts of your body
· Eat something with a strong taste, like a grapefruit or salsa
· Find an online self help chat room, and talk to someone there
(iv) If you use self-harm as a means of releasing tension or anger
· Try some vigorous exercise (such as running, dancing or swimming)
· Punch a cushion or mattress or scream into your pillow
· Rip up magazines or sheets of paper
· If you’re musical, play your instrument (piano, guitar, drums, and so on)
Some possible substitutes to replacing the cutting sensation include:
· Instead of cutting yourself, use a red pen to “mark the spot”
· Try rubbing ice cubes along the area of skin where you would normally cut, or
· Put rubber bands on your arms, wrists or legs and snap them instead of harming yourself.
These are just a few suggestions – and everyone is different – but keep on working and fighting to get free.