I thought it might be helpful to list some alternatives to self injury, things that might help if you are getting the desire to do it, but are trying not to.
- Talk to a friend, parent, or helpline. Sometimes talking it through, or talking about something for a time can help you past the worst of the urge to do it. If you cannot tell a friend or parent, or other relative there are helplines which you can talk to. Some of these are: 0800 1111 (Childline), 08457 90 90 90 (The Samaritans, or email firstname.lastname@example.org) or 0845 4647 (NHS Direct). Some other numbers can be found on this NHS page.
- Distract yourself. Listen to music, go for a walk, stroke your pet (unless it’s a goldfish). Whatever you can think of to get your mind off self harm.
- Think of something nice. I suppose this would depend on your imagination, but try to imagine yourself somewhere pleasant, your favourite place, or revisit memories of good times.
- Use another way. There are alternatives to self injury which will produce similar sorts of sensations, but without causing damage. These include: holding an ice cube, drawing red marks on yourself with a felt-tip, snapping an elastic band against your skin, and also “harmless pain” like sucking on a lemon, eating a chilli or a cold shower.
- Write. I found it really helpful to have a diary online (mine was at Diaryland) where I could pour out all my feelings and, eventually, other people could help me. I think a lot of people find friendship and help online through writing. You could also write a poem, or keep a paper diary.
- Pray. This is really important, if you are a Christian. Talk to God – even if you can’t think of the right sort of words, even if you think you aren’t worth his time. You are. He loves you and wants you to talk to him, even if you can’t get the words right or feel that he isn’t listening. For me, it was during my darkest time that I felt closest to God, but he didn’t heal me straight away, and that is something you must be prepared for. Sometimes you can’t even get words out, just draw near to him and be silent. That is ok too. It is also quite normal to rage at God sometimes, to ask “why?”, wondering why this is happening to you. David did that, in the Psalms, but he always praised God, after he had desperately asked him why and for help.
- Read Scripture. The Bible can be wonderfully helpful if you are hurting. I particularly enjoy reading the Psalms – they are good because they express deep emotion, including distress that seems to perfectly express what is going on with me at the time. They also are short, by and large, which is handy if you are depressed or distracted in your mind. Read a Bible you find easy to understand, perhaps The Message, the NIV, or the NLT, whatever you find easiest to understand. If you cannot read very much, try reading verses of promises or comfort, or repeating in your head verses you know.
- Take care of yourself. Do something you enjoy, or pamper yourself. You may find that a soothing bath, with oils/lotions rubbed into the skin, distracts you from self harm.
I hope these suggestions are helpful for you, and if anyone reading knows other distractions, leave a comment or email me at believersbrain[at]yahoo.co.uk