While we self-injure, we think there is no other way to deal with the emotional turmoil within us. We don’t know how to cope with our internal pain or lack of emotions, but there is hope. There are other ways to deal with the illness that plagues our minds and souls. It’s just a matter of finding one or more that works best for you.
When I was working towards stopping cutting, my therapist taught me different ways to handle my overwhelming emotions. Some of these techniques can be found in The Scarred Soul: Understanding and Ending Self-Inflicted Violence by Tracy Alderman, Ph.D. The Scarred Soul can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Scarred-Soul-Understanding-Self-Inflicted-Violence/dp/1572240792/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472346771&sr=1-1&keywords=tracy+alderman .
Below are some healthy coping techniques that helped me and may help you.
Use a journal to express your feelings. I used to carry my journal everywhere I went. I would write my deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings in it. I filled the pages and emptied my soul of emotions and inner agony I was burying within me. My journal became my lifeline. I would write on my breaks, when I was out to eat, or home alone.
Call a friend, a family member or member of the clergy to talk about what is happening within you. When I felt really bad and wanted to cut myself, I would call a friend. My friend would talk to me for hours and do her best to get my mind off of my illness. She wouldn’t hang up until I started laughing.
Use a punching bag or pillow to vent your inter frustration and anger. My therapist suggested I do this. I bought a child’s punching bag and would punch it until all the pent up anger was out of me. When the punching bag popped, I used a pillow. Just punching something relieved me of feelings and emotions that were burning deep within me.
Use relaxation techniques to soothe your inner feeling and need to hurt yourself. I used deep breathing and relaxing music to help me relax. When I felt like injuring, I would put on soft music lay down and picture myself walking in the woods or on a beach. If that didn’t help, I would take a deep breath in, hold it for a minutes and slowly release it. I would do this several times till I felt better.
Get yourself a therapist who can give you professional guidance. I realized I couldn’t fight my illness on my own. I needed professional help. I found a therapist I felt comfortable with and told her my deepest secrets. When I was unable to verbally tell my therapist how I felt, then I wrote it down for her to read. Then I did the homework my therapist gave me. I found that therapy doesn’t work unless you’re willing to do the work.
Identify your feelings as something separate from your thoughts. I learned that feelings can be described with one word, not in a complete sentence. Some feeling words are frustrated, sad, angry, and alone. I learn that saying, “I feel like my life is over” is a thought not a feeling. Once I identified my feelings, I found ways to relieve them like using some of the above coping techniques.
Try using some of these techniques to help you cope with your mental illness instead of injuring. If these don’t work for you, talk to your therapist about other ones that may help you. Remember, dealing with the pain and darkness within you takes hard work and determination. Ending the cycle of self-harming is not going to be easy, but if your determined enough, you can do it.
With determination and hard work I stopped self-injury and now I stand tall within the light.