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Juniper29

Stopping other forms of self harm

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Posted (edited)

I haven't cut in 15 years (wow, it's really been that long!) however I still get the impulse, often very strongly. The thing is, I have recently admitted to myself that I still self-harm in other ways that I have considered "not really self harm" (like hitting or scratching myself). This is still my go to for overwhelming emotional states and I guess it functions in the same way as cutting did.

I'm conflicted about whether this is something I should try to stop. On the one hand, I recognize that it's a dysfunctional way to cope. It doesn't make me feel good about myself. I haven't told my therapist about it and don't want to. On the other hand, it still seems better to me then cutting so if I have to resort to one I'd rather do the one that doesn't leave scars etc. I'm not really sure what to replace it with. I mean I do try things like breathing or take my Ativan if needed, but if I do resort to hurting myself it's because these other strategies weren't working.

Thoughts?

Edited by Juniper29

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i also engage in "soft" forms of self-harm, mostly in the forms of picking and scratching at my skin. the picking could be viewed as a habit, but when i use it as a coping tool, i'm actively and consciously trying to do damage and calm down, just as i would with self-harm, so i count those instances as such. for me as well, these come after the non-harmful coping strategies, but before cutting.

the best advice, in my opinion, would be to ultimately work on replacing these methods with non-harming ways of coping, in whatever way that would work for you (journaling, yelling into pillows, talking, waking a walk, etcetc ad inafinitum). mentioning it to your tdoc is also probably a good idea, and seeing what they think of it.

in a way, this is a form of harm reduction, which is essentially a question of "if we can't avoid doing harm, how can we do the least harm?" seeing as you still deal with strong urges, this sounds like the least harmful way you've found to get through them. being aware of the fact that it's still harm is a good thing, and being aware that there are healthier alternatives may help slowly decrease your dependence on this method over time. there are a couple threads on here with good alternatives. you may want to have a browse through and keep some of them in mind, and see if next time the urge hits, you're able to not harm, or harm even less than you do now. work on whittling it down.

lastly, congratulations on your long time being clean! that's amazing, and inspiring to me. i haven't been clean longer than five months since i started cutting years ago. it's interesting to know that the urge is still so strong for you, but knowing you made it that long with those urges makes me think maybe i can get through mine.

take care. :-)

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@echolocation Thanks, that makes a lot of sense. I am supposed to be journaling but really bad at actually doing it ... I hate writing down the messed up stuff in my head. It might help though. It has in the past when I've actually done it. Maybe I can write it down and then rip it up or something.

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sometimes i find typing stuff on my laptop is more low-commitment than a physical pen-and-paper journal entry. i make journal-type posts on notepad (or whatever default note-taking program is on your tech) and save em into a file. gets my thoughts out without requiring me to get up.

or, if you don't want to keep what you've written, space email is a website where you can write some thoughts down, and then your writing is sent into the void of the internet. you can read what other people have sent as well. i like it for casting thoughts away.

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