Self-Injury

Are You Injuring Yourself? Get Help!

Why should you stop?

  • Self-abuse causes damage to the body.
  • Self-injury distracts from solving problems and creates additional problems with family and friends.
  • It blocks learning better ways of calming and soothing painful emotions.

Things to consider in choosing a coping strategy:

  • Will this activity hurt my body, my health, or my safety?
  • Will this activity make it harder for me to cope without extra help?
  • Will this activity tend to make people get angry or frustrated with me or want me to go away?

Things that may help you to stop:

  • Find someone to talk to that you trust. Know that they may not understand right away so you’ll need to explain it to them and give them time to adjust. (See How To Tell Someone That You Self-Injure.)
  • Make a list of alternative coping strategies and keep it where you keep your razors/matches/etc. some ideas might include:
    • Go to a park and swing on a swing.
    • Write in a journal or write poetry
    • Sing as loud as you can.
    • Play with a child.
    • Take deep breaths.
    • Watch your favorite funny movie.
    • Spend time with friends.
    • Carry safe things with you like charms, stones or crystals.
    • Find something to do with your hands and brain, little electronic games work great because they are portable.
    • Go on-line.
    • Rip paper or material such as rags.
    • Soak in a tub with bubble bath (remove all sharp objects (razors) first if this is a trigger)
    • As a second-last resort (because it is close to cutting) you can take a red felt tip pen and mark your arms as you would with a sharp object. Be careful with this one as it works for some people but not for others so try some other things first.
    • Leave self-injury at the bottom of the list for as long as you need to. For many people it remains an option for years after they have stopped self-injuring.
    • Make a “feel better kit” when you are in a good mood. It can include anything that makes you feel better such as a funny movie, journal, photos, bubble bath, music, chocolate, favorite blanket or stuffed animal, etc.
    • Think about the times when you are triggered to self injure. Is there anything that you can change about those situations or your reactions to them? It isn’t something that “just happens.” What were you thinking about yourself? What were you feeling? What were you saying to yourself? Use this information the next time you are in a similar situation.
    • Be aware of your triggers. Triggers are feelings, smells, events, memories, thoughts, reactions of others, etc. which increase tension. A trigger lights a “fuse” and one way to work on self-abuse is to work on lengthening the fuse The longer the fuse the more time you have to implement another coping strategy. Knowing your triggers can help you plan to avoid self-abuse.
    • Try to respond to the situation rather than react.
    • Remember, self-injury is always a choice and it is always your choice. No one makes you do it, so don’t blame it on others. Other people may trigger you but ultimately the final choice of what you do is up to you. Be responsible for your choices.
    • If you take medication and have a tendency to overdose as a form of self-abuse work with your pharmacist to dose only 2 to 7 days at at time.
    • Remove sharp objects from convenient places (i.e. take razors out of the shower) if you tend to cut.
    • Remember the AA formula of “HALT”: you’ll be more likely to self-injure when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.
    • Seek counselling. Having a friend you can talk to is great but sometimes you may need professional help or an outside opinion. We know how hard it can be to open up to a stranger but you will need to use as many resources as you can. Self-injury is a very hard habit to break.
    • Don’t look at stopping self-injury as the most important goal in treatment. Usually there are many buried issues or feelings that will need to be explored which may trigger feelings that you can’t deal with by any of the other methods on your list.
    • It takes a long time to be ready to give up self-injuring. Even putting it off for a half an hour can be looked at as an accomplishment, especially since that half hour will give you a chance to talk yourself down or try another coping strategy.

For help with self-injury, call our counsellors at 727-9737 or drop by Room 102 A. E. McKenzie Building (Student Services) to make an appointment.