Tag Archive: avoiding self-harm

I spent the better part of the afternoon in the psychiatric section of the trauma unit. Fun, huh? Not exactly!

It’s a long story and I don’t really feel able to share the details right now. But if you could, hold out some good thoughts for me. I have a meeting in the morning to follow up and hopefully get some medication to overcome this darkness.


I always tell myself that when I am hurting the most, that is when I need to reach out. So, with humility and hope for receiving compassion, I am going to share about the last few days.

The last few days I have been seriously struggling with my urges to self-injure. I have an interview for a job coming up mid-week, and I need my arms clear of marks. Since I could not resist the urge or compulsion to cut, I found a new spot, one less visible. The problem is that I cannot get the same relief from it. And I have to make a larger number of cuts to feel any relief at all. So for three days I have been injuring in this new place and last night I became really frustrated with myself.

In my desperation to make my world stop spinning, to feel grounded, to stop the pain in my heart that just wouldn’t quit, I took a large amount of pills and crawled into a bed. I woke up some hours later feeling dizzy and disoriented, but surprisingly not at all ill.

Saturday evening when I began feeling extremely low, I called my therapist and left her a voicemail. I knew that she would not receive it until today, but I reasoned with myself that at least I had attempted to do other things before I gave in to self-destructive behaviors.

I feel very groggy and everything seems to be moving in slow motion. The numbness is unreal. My whole body feels slightly tingly, but my emotions are almost completely absent today. I have a slight headache and am rather irritable.

I finally caved in and ate something. I was trying to avoid it in case I became nauseous, but that side affect is entirely absent from my system thus far. Remarkable really.

So here I am, with my mind barely here and my emotions nearly dead, writing this out. Some might call what I did a cry for help; others might call it a need for attention, but I don’t believe it was either. I believe I was trying to just make the world silent for a few minutes. It worked. I slept last night, almost an entire 6 hours. I’ve only been getting 2-4 hours of sleep a night this past week, so six straight undisturbed hours is a major accomplishment.

Stigma, lies, misinformation, misunderstanding. We deal with these ills every day. The person who suffers from schizophrenia, the man homeless and insane, the self-injurer, the rape victim. But how often do we stop and ask if they need help? How often do we reach out a loving hand or a strong arm to those who feel so alone, isolated? The truth we don’t like to face is that many of us don’t, ever. Sure, there are those in high serving professions like nursing, counseling, and other mental health related fields, but what about the rest of us?

I’ve lost more friends to suicide than I care to share about here. That’s not what this place is for, but I think something needs to be said somewhere. I couldn’t help them any more than I can help myself, but I tried anyway.

I never write anything here for sympathy, so please don’t tell me you’re sorry. Understand, that there are people in the world who need a friend but have no one to ask to fill such a role. Reach out to the hurting, the destitute, the socially unacceptable. Write love.. maybe not on their arms, but on their hearts.

 I write love every day. I write it over my own scars, over my own pain, on  the mirror I gaze into every morning. I’m still fighting this fight. I’m still struggling in this war against my own self-destructive tendencies, but I’m still here. For today, I will be thankful for that. For today, I will reach out to another struggling along side me. For today, I will count the scars on my wrist and remember all the times I didn’t die but could have. For today, existing is enough. Perhaps tomorrow I will find the courage to live.

Living can be painful. Isolation makes it worse. Being busy is a coping mechanism. Being stagnant is self-defeating. Healing requires effort. Pain requires darkness. Injuries require air and light to mend, and maybe a bit of neosporin. Hiding is exhausting. Blood is red. Depression is black, or “blue like jazz.” Happiness is yellow like a beaming ball of sunshine. My friend is yellow. I am black, well maybe midnight blue, but close enough to black. Knives cut. Glass shreds. Skin scars. Hearts ache. Eyes cry. Lips part. Voices possess the power of silence and sound. Music weaves light and dark, noise and quiet, rhythm and tone. Words hang in the air, thick like molasses, sticky too. Friends disappear and reappear like an illusion at a magic show. Blackness of night morphs to morning’s rosy skies. Scars toughen the soul. Life continues.

No Major Tests Yet- Triggers!

Okay, so it occurred to me late last night as I was crawling in to bed that since Sunday, I have not faced any major tests yet. I have not been overly triggered by my spouse, my children, or any outside circumstances in a few days. But what happens when later tonight I’m feeling anxious about my first counseling session tomorrow? What happens when my spouse says something that makes me feel out of control? Or when I meet my counselor and something triggers me? Then what?

That’s when the hard part comes in. That’s when it’s going to take everything inside of me not to resort to previous ways of coping. That’s when I am going to have to lean on my support system, which still isn’t all that established. It’s NOT going to be easy in those moments. I know they are coming. I am preparing for them, like one might prepare for war, or famine, or a job loss.

How will I cope in those moments? Will I shout, scream, pull my hair? Will I cry as the blade finds familiar paths? Will I sit in a tub of bubbles and watch the candle flame dance as it sears my skin? What will I do? Those are the moments that will show whether I really am ready to move forward. Those are the moments that will either push me one step forward or many steps back. Those moments define my willingness to change. Those moments highlight my strengths and weaknesses.

So, I need a plan, a way to combat the thoughts in my own head. First, I will call someone and talk. Maybe I will write in my journal or draw on my skin. Maybe I will color with my children or listen to some loud bleeding-ear music. Perhaps I will go for a walk or make soap. The point is that I will need to do SOMETHING, something other than injuring myself. Something positive. Something that will bring me hope instead of shame.

This road is not an easy one to walk, and I’m not going to pretend it is. But it will be worth it in the end, to keep on pushing forward towards hope, towards a better life. For me, and for my children, this makes it worth the hardship and pain of healing.

As always, I wish you health and comfort on your own journey towards healing and wholeness. ~SS

Sometimes we struggle to understand why we harm ourselves, but like all compulsive behaviors and addictions, there are pay offs to self-injury. Understanding why we feel the need to self-injure may help us find other ways of coping with our current emotions. Self-injury is an unhealthy coping mechanism, and identifying how we use it to cope may bring insight on healthier coping methods.

Some reasons people self-injure:

  • relief from overwhelming emotional pain (numbness)
  • attempt to express emotions (feeling)
  • “punishment” for “being bad” (shame/guilt)
  • stress release
  • self- control
  • self-soothing

When you, or someone you know, is feeling the need to self-injure, there are things to try first. Some may be more effective than others. Understand that sometimes, we may try all of these things and still have the urge.

A Few Healthier Coping Strategies

  • pick up the phone – call a friend, if there isn’t someone trustworthy, call a local hotline or 1-800-DONT-CUT
  • write, draw, or talk about your emotions, numbness, need for control, anxiety, or stresses.
  • draw or write on yourself instead
  • visit To Write Love On Her Arms to see that you aren’t alone and find resources to help you

The following information is taken from “Help Guide” online and is aimed to be used as a resource only.

“Alternatives to avoid self-harm

If you self-injure to…Deal with anger that you cannot express openly, try working through those feelings by doing something different – running, dancing fast, screaming, punching a pillow, throwing something, ripping something apart

If you hurt yourself in order to…Feel something when you feel numb inside, hold ice cubes in one hand and try to crush them, hold a package of frozen food, take a very cold shower, chew something with a very strong taste (like chili peppers, raw ginger root, or a grapefruit peel), wear an elastic rubber band around your wrist and snap it (in moderation to avoid bruising) when you feel like hurting yourself

If you inflict physical pain to…Calm yourself, try taking a bubble bath, doing deep breathing, writing in a journal, drawing, or doing some yoga

If you self-mutilate to…See blood, try drawing a red ink line where you would usually cut yourself, in combination with the other suggestions above. “

As someone who struggles with this, I understand how difficult it is to overcome. I also know that it won’t happen overnight and takes a really good support system and learning new coping mechanisms. Sometimes, no matter what we do, we will still feel the urge, still need that release. And afterwards, we feel the shame. Each day is another opportunity to try. It’s exhausting, the road is long and difficult, but healing is possible.

Sending my warmest wishes for a brighter future for all who are reading this. Feel free to comment or message me if you need someone to talk to. ~SS