How can I stop? What are the alternatives?
Self harming is very difficult to stop straight away. It will take time, and other methods of coping will need to be found to deal with triggers to make sure that relapse doesn’t occur. Instead of stopping, it is better to find alternatives first, which will give you the same feelings when you need them without the physical signs of injury, scarring or bleeding which comes with self harm, then gradually ween yourself from these when you feel that you’re ready or you can cope without them.
Alternative 1: The Elastic Band
Instead of picking up the razor when you feel the need to cut, wear an elastic band around your wrist which you would normally cut on. When you get urges, twang the band with the hand you would normally cut with. This will keep your cutting hand occupied, as well as giving you the ‘painful snap’ which you would get from cutting which can give the same release. This can be done as many times and as often as you need to without fear of scarring or bleeding. With any method, try not to use the band over closed or healed wounds, but if it snaps that’s just fine, just grab another one.
Alternative 2: Doodle Me This
When you feel the need to cut, you can be anywhere at anytime in the day. It might be at school, or work, or maybe just at home.
In these cases, even if it is just at home, you can draw, or paint, on your arm instead. Take a pen, red normally works best, and draw on your arm where you would normally cut, or where you want to cut. It could be just a simple line, a picture, some words which describe how you are feeling. Replace the razor with those words, and stare at that ‘temporary tattoo’ every time you feel an urge for the rest of that day. With any method, this one can cause ink poisoning if done too much, so refrain from using permanent markers, wash the ink off every night to start fresh again the next day and try experimenting with paints instead of pens.
This technique links in with the Butterfly Project, a movement aimed at teens and self harmer’s, which involves drawing a butterfly on your wrist, or wherever you may normally cut, instead of using a razor. You can watch the butterfly fade, like you would with a scar.
Are there other general methods which could help me?
Yes, everybody will be different and will harm differently.
1. Try delay: take a shower, talk to a friend, watch a film which you like or find funny, do your nails or hair - anything which will keep your hands busy.
2. Express feelings: scream into a pillow, rip up an old book, throw ice cubes or old plates at a wall, draw using dark colours or charcoal.
3. Find another way to get the same feeling: go for a long run or bike ride [exercise], Alternative 1 & 2 which I have already listed.
4. Understand what’s going on: write your feelings down [poetry, a short story, blog, make a list of emotions] with no editing. Burn the paper or rip it up. Draw faces or pictures of how you are feeling, try to address why you are feeling the way that you are.