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