Self Harm | Mental Health
If you've read some of my first blogs, you may know that I used to self harm (SH). Today, I want to share a part of that story and some things I used to help me stop relying on something so damaging.
October 2009, I lost my nan. She was someone who was very dear to me; I'd often give her massages and help her around amongst other things. It was the end of the first term at my new school and it was a lovely Autumn day. I got called out from my IT class by someone from the reception who informed me that my mum was here to collect me. I found this so bizarre because I did not think there was any reason why my mum should have come to pick me up so early. And then the news was broken to me, words floating around but I was unable to connect the pieces. I felt like I was in a dream, until it finally hit me, like a storm, tearing at every inch of my skin. Even though she was very ill and had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Tuberculosis, I couldn't believe that sh'ed finally parted with the world.
The funeral was held pretty soon, and it was a busy time. When everything had begun settling, it really dawned on me, and I guess I had no idea how to deal with the pain or how to speak about it so I stumbled upon self harming. This is how it all started and I don't know why I was attracted to such a thing but I became addicted to it. It started off with small little scratches which then became a daily ritual, one that I couldn't live without. A routine, if not completed, would throw me off and leave me cold. There was a brief time where I had stopped self harming and that may have lasted a few months but I relapsed when something new triggered it.
I have self harmed throughout my time at school and during sixth form when I relapsed occasionally. Like I mentioned before, I started to SH as a way to release pain but over the years, my reasoning changed, and it became a method to keep me alive, to stop me from feeling numb. This was scarier as it would seem like a fight for survival and I guess that is what it was. I travelled down the path of depression, not my most fun adventure but a struggle which nonetheless has shaped me into who I am today. The following are some of the things I've used along the way to help me deal with my urges and I hope they help you too.
Try fighting the urge This was one of the first things I tried to do. Whether you fight the urge for 1, 5, 30 seconds or a whole minute, that’s better than before and that is progress. Every time you feel the urge to SH, try to distract yourself for as long as you can. Your goal is to try and stop harming yourself because you DO NOT DESERVE TO BE HURTING. Try and try again and you will become better at controlling the urge. You may relapse every once in a while but remember, you still fought very hard.
Bin the tools you use Binning them will mean you can't reach for them so you'll need to fight the urge. The absence of the tool will make it less likely for you to harm yourself but this will take time. And instead of harming yourself, you need to find a new distraction which isn't harmful like any of the ones below.
Watch your favourite TV show/movie This is to help you be distracted. Watch your favourite TV show or movie and if you’ve already seen it, re-watch it. And if you don’t know what to watch, randomly choose any from my TV show list and enjoy it. Maybe you can find a new favourite. This will act as an escape from your troubles and hopefully calm you in the process as well.
Keep a journal nearby Writing your thoughts down is always helpful as it clears your mind. You can write words which are racing through your mind or you can draw it out. How you express yourself is up to you. Writing things down will help release some tension and pent up emotions. Once you’ve finished writing things down, go back and read them and see if you can spot the triggers. Once you’ve done this, see if there is anything you can do to not let that thing effect you next time. If you are afraid that someone will find your journal, then you could write on Microsoft Word or Apple Pages or the Notes section or even on your email and send it to yourself or save it in the drafts folder. No one will find out this way and no one needs to know about it. If you go back and read your entries a few months or even years later, you'll see how far you've come and wonder why those things even bothered you so much at that time; it will give you the opportunity to reflect on your past. Do not be ashamed of it.
Write Literally write anything. Whether it is a poem or a story or a song, write. Expressing yourself is always good because it will help to relieve the frustration or any other emotion you’e feeling. This does link to the last point but the only difference between the 2 is that for this, you are getting creative. Writing has helped me a lot, especially since April/May this year. I started writing poetry one night when I felt like I could no longer continue with life and I didn’t want to turn to anyone because I did not want to dump my issues on them so I wrote. I ended up with 3 pieces which I’m proud of. What you write and how you write is up to you. Give it a go even if you think you aren't going to be good at it. You are writing for yourself, so be as creative as you like.
Allow yourself to cry There is no shame in crying. You are a human, not a machine. You will get emotional, you will get hurt but do not ever listen to anyone who tells you "crying is for babies" or "crying is for weak people". This is not true! Crying is a great way to release tension and any pent up emotions. This is a healing process, there is no shame in it. Cut off anyone who has this toxic thinking.
Talk to someone Speaking to someone about what's on your mind is always helpful. They can help give you a solution to a problem or just be a listening ear, whichever is needed. You'll feel better afterwards as well and feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
Paint your nails Give yourself a small manicure and paint your nails your favourite colour or try a new one. You can always get super creative as well and begin nail art and turn this into a hobby or maybe even a profession. Have fun with it and really spend time on yourself. Whilst you let your nails dry, you could listen to your favourite podcasts or songs and really indulge in some 'me' time.
Draw/paint Get as creative as you want. You do not have to be like Picasso or anyone else. Just draw or paint whatever you want. If that is just stick figures, there's nothing wrong with it! You can paint lines of different colours and add some glitter or sequence if you want. You could buy a cheap colouring book and just colour in there if that is what you would prefer - there are also some apps available which you can download on your phone if you'd prefer that. This is for yourself so do not bring yourself down for your talent! You can develop it further as well. Enjoy being creative and lose yourself in the activity.
Go for a walk Getting fresh air and moving around will clear your mind. Walk around the block or even walk for 5 minutes. If there is a local shop down the road, go in and treat yourself to your favourite chocolate/snacks if you like. Or maybe grab a friend and go for a hike or a walk around the park.
Work out This will help you relieve that tension, stress or emotion and you are also getting fit. If you are someone who doesn't regularly work out, then take it slowly, and start with stretching or look at some short work outs online. You can always go onto Youtube or download one of the several apps available in the app store and use those as a guide. Start off slow and build your way up. This way, you won't feel overwhelmed either. My favourite form of working out is jogging even though I don't do it regularly enough (anxiety ugh) but it is something which I can always rely on to help.
Bake If you are interesting in baking, make this the distraction from the urge. Bake whatever you like, whether that is a new recipe you want to try or one of your ultimate faves.
Join a sport Sometimes leaving the house is really helpful as being stuck inside gives you more time to get lost in your mind so going out and joining a new sport, no matter what it is, will help you because you are in a new environment with new people and you are focusing on something else. When I started uni, I joined Wing Chun (Kung Fu) only because the guy who was advertising it during freshers was very persuasive and cute so I thought heck, I might as well. It honestly is one of the best decisions I've made and I've remained committed as well which is something I do struggle with. There are so many different sports you can join, just find what you enjoy whether that is; dancing, boxing, running, swimming, athletics or something else.
These are just some of the things you can do to help you so find what works for you and discard what doesn't work. The most important thing for you to take away from this is that, no matter how much you may be hurting, don't hurt yourself. This very moment may feel like the end of the world for you right now but it's not. You have a lot more to look forward to, so many more memories to make, things to try, places to visit, people to meet. Never feel like you are alone, because you are not. There are people rooting for you, including me. Learn to love yourself and accept yourself for who you are.