**TRIGGER WARNING** This blog post contains my experience of anxiety, self-harming and coping strategies I’ve used to try and overcome self-harm tendencies.
We normally associate self-harm with teen girls but in fact it impacts people of all genders, ages and backgrounds.
I began self-harming when I was 13. I’m now 30 and I still struggle with the urge to harm myself when I feel really anxious or if something has triggered me.
The first time I self-harmed was after a particularly traumatic incident and I couldn’t express the pain I felt inside. I could understand the mental torture that I was going through and doing something physically to myself, in my mind, showed people that nobody could hurt me more than I hurt myself. In a weird way it was a type of self-preservation.
I have an addictive personality.
Quickly self-harm became a crutch. I would hide my scars and marks even during the summer months when my school jumper would stick to my cuts. I was ashamed of what I was doing to myself but also the fact that I couldn’t cope with my life.
Fast-forward 17 years, I have mostly managed to resist the urge to harm for a while but sometimes when life gets really tough and my mental illness is at the forefront, I really struggle to distract myself.
At the moment, my anxiety is sky high, I’m on fight or fly mode and I feel horrid. I am trying to be mindful but it’s not working. So I am trying to dip into the “tool box” I have developed after years of counselling and mental health support.
The feeling you want to die or not be here isn’t always that you actually want to die it’s because you can’t see another way out. You think your presence in this life causes more trouble than it does please. You think harming yourself is the only control you have in this cruel world.
But it’s not. I am talking to you and to myself at the moment. This feeling will pass, these urges will subside and as I want you on this earth I also have to try believe people need me here too.
We’re in this together.
So to remind myself, as I’m struggling at the moment, and to hopefully help others…
Here are my Positive Coping Mechanisms
Firstly, we can’t just take away a negative coping strategy or a “crutch” without replacing it with something else.
1. So first and foremost, get professional help. Whether it be for you as a sufferer or as a carer. Go to your GP or call 111.
2. Exercise, a walk, a run just any movement can help to distract.
3. Ride the wave: As the urge reaches a crescendo visualise a wave because every wave reaches a height and then comes back down. So rise that wave of urges/temptations.
4. Distract yourself by talking to someone, call Samaritans or like me, I Vlog or Blog (whatever is right for you).
5. Self Care rather than self-harm: so whether that be having a bath, shopping or having a pamper, whatever feels like a treat to you.
Here here are a just a few ideas… do you have any?
Sending lots of strength and healing.