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Wanting to self harm for no reason?

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First of all; Hi guys! I'm a 21 year old guy with bipolar and some other things, and I have been clean from cutting for almost two years! Other forms of self-injury have happened since then, but rarely.


My issues: A lot of the time I feel the need to self harm even if I don't feel sad/anxious/angry. Like, this huge want.  I don’t get it. Especially if theres a knife around, like last night it was just there and rather than feeling sad and wanting to cut, I feel sad because I want to cut, but can’t. It feels more like an addiction than a coping method sometimes. Cause a lot of the time the feeling of wanting to cut is making me more upset, not helping me deal with anything.


Sometimes, like right now, I’m not all that sad on my own, but I want to cut so badly it’s making me so frustrated I feel like crying. Don’t get me wrong, it’s my own fault. I left a clean knife out after using it cut fabric, and then I let myself play with it while talking to my boyfriend yesterday. Full knowing that leaving knifes out is a trigger for me and that playing with them and feeling the blade is even more of a trigger. Still, I hear people talk all the time about it being a valid coping mechanism, but sometimes wanting to/missing hurting myself is much more distressing in itself than the feelings that lead me there. Cutting feels good to me and I get upset and anxious and angry sometimes just from not getting to do it.

Been clean for 2 years, hopefully it'll stay that way, but curious if anyone else feels that way?


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Hm. Before I started doing therapy, I really felt that sometimes I was cutting for "no good reason" but when I started really paying attention and working at it, I found that generally there WAS a reason, it just wasn't something immediately obvious. Even if you don't have a huge bombshell emotion, it is possible that you are still looking for comforting or soothing for some reason.

Of course it's always possible that it really is just the habit/addiction side of things. But you might want to give some thought to whether there are other triggers and emotional needs that are not in your awareness. I was surprised by what I found when I really traced things back.

Congratulations on making it for two years. You are obviously very skillful. Keep it up :)

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Thanks! 2 years have been rough, but I'm happy about it. :)


I wont deny that there might be underlying issues, I just cant always pinpoint them. ANd sometimes it honestly feels like I want to cut, just to stop thinking about it. Right now I'm just barely landing from a manic/mixed episode and during it I just kept seeing pictures inside my head of my hurting myself so much I nearly did it just to get the images out of my head. I didn't cut, but I did bang my head and I wasn't sure why. Felt like I needed to because I kept seeing it and feeling a strong need to. Now my mind is calmer, like im closer to a baseline with my bipolar and yet I still feel a strong need. Like, really strong. I know my mixed episode isn't completely gone yet, but even if I still feel unstable I don't have clear reason for wanting to as I did more often when I was younger. It's feels more like a need that is unconnected to anything in particular. Not sure if I'm making any sense right now. :P

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I think I know what you mean, Boy_interrupted. 


Sometimes I get a strong urge to cut for what seems like no reason as well. And it makes me so damn upset that I can't cut, and then makes me even MORE upset that I thought about cutting in the first place. Which then makes me so upset I want to cut. See the vicious circle? 


The next little bit is mainly me talking about my own triggers, but see if you can maybe identify yourself in them. 


I agree with Tryp that there are likely some underlying triggers that you haven't identified yet. I hate to admit this next part, but here goes... For example, I found a trigger of mine is a need for attention and feeling ignored. It goes back to never getting attention from my mom. So, sometimes, I want to cut just so that I'll get attention from her. It took me a long time to accept this trigger, because it sounds so bad and shameful. But, hey, we're all human. We all want and need attention from loved ones. 


So, usually when I think I want to cut for no reason, it's really that I'm looking for attention. To deal with this, I seek out healthy ways of getting attention, like just striking up a conversation with my someone or paying attention to my cats. 


Also, when I initially got well and stopped cutting, I felt empty. I felt like I had no more meaning in my life. My illness was my identity, cutting was my identity and it took some time to remember and rebuild my "well identity." Is it possible that you crave cutting because of the purpose and meaning it gave to you? If it ever did give you purpose, I don't want to assume. 


Anyway, that's my take on it. Those are some examples of my "underlying triggers."


You say it feels like a need that is unconnected to anything in particular. That makes me think it may also be linked to the habit/addiction side of things like Tryp said. 


Edited to add: Also, congratulations on making it two years without cutting! :) You sound like a very determined person. 

Edited by Parapluie
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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

If I am having a conversation with someone and I feel like it's not going well I will think about it quite intensely. If other people are having a conversation and not including me, even if I don't really like them or feel like talking to them, again I will have very detailed thoughts about wanting to hurt myself quite badly. It's funny because I am not aware of feeling upset, but these thoughts come into my head, so I must be upset by these things on some level.


Recently I was reading a book about the holocaust and I felt fine while I was reading it, just a sort of historical sort of thing, I could coldly look at, and someone came into the room and I had just read a particularly interesting passage and I tried to explain it to them and I immediately burst into tears. So all that tension had been building up in me and I  had no idea whatsoever. I decided to give up on the book!

So maybe it's like that, maybe you think you are fine but actually something is bothering you. 

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