Self-harm is a coping mechanism and often times an addiction. It helps people silence the chaos in their heads, gives them an outlet for their emotions, and it can feel like a breath of fresh air when stuck in a depressive fog.
But self-harming is dangerous and is never a long-term fix. It can make people feel better or relieved in the moment, but it makes them crash even harder afterwards. And it usually escalates over time, requiring more and more behaviors to get the same feeling as the first time. As someone who has engaged in self-harming behaviors and struggled with those impulses, I recognize just how hard it can be to seek out help and resist those urges.
Self-harm, like any other destructive coping mechanism, has to be replaced with another coping mechanism. It usually does not work if you try to just quit a behavior “cold turkey”. The behavior is there for a reason, so just not doing it will leave a person with a void needing to be filled.
I am not a therapist, and I do not claim to be one. Please seek out professional help if you or someone you know is engaging in self-harming behaviors or is struggling mental health issues or suicidal ideations. I know that it may be difficult to access mental health resources (especially in terms of insurance and monetary limitations), but there are several avenues to take that can help point you in the right direction. Going to a school or work counselor, calling a free mental health or suicide hotline (numbers can be found through google), or speaking with your insurance company to see what resources are covered are good first steps to take.
But self-harming behavior is something that is really dangerous to ignore or put off treating. Through my treatment, I have learned some alternative behaviors that work for me to help me deal with my urges until I am emotionally stable enough to logically think them through. I hope some of these alternative behaviors may be helpful to people until they can seek further assistance:
These are just a few things that I have found helpful in my own recovery. There are many more alternatives other people may find helpful, and these may not work for everyone. Please seek professional help, and do not take what I say as professional advice. I just hope this gives people some relief/ alternatives in the meantime.
I'm a bi female undergraduate student majoring in Psychology, with minors in Women and Gender Studies and African American Studies. I am passionate about issues of domestic violence and sexual assault, and intend to get my masters in social work in order to serve those populations.