Scars Pt. 2
In my last post, I shared with you guys a bit of my story with self-harm. But a lot of people are going to want to know some ways to help their situations. In the professional opinion of Dr. Dombeck, “It is helpful for people to learn alternative means of dealing with their emotions, or to work on the issues that have led them to having problematic emotions.” This is not an easy task, trust me I know. Ways one could go about moving beyond this is communication. It is important to have a relationship with someone who you trust who can support you and can provide new ideas to cope. This can be a relationship with a therapist, a family member, or a close friend. I personally feel that a therapist is the best way to go to deal with negative emotions but I understand that not everyone is comfortable with the idea of therapy so please talk to anyone you trust.
Beyond having someone in your life who you can talk to openly about your feelings, it is important to be aware of situations that may trigger the urge to self-harm. For me, some social interaction is triggering so I am learning to limit contact with certain people. If they don’t make you happy, they don’t need to exist in your hemisphere. If these triggering people are people you literally cannot kick to the curb, interact with them in doses. Moreover, we have to plan for an alternative to cutting. I have decided that I need to get back into sketching and playing piano. These are two activities that make me feel calm and allow me to recuperate from stressful situations and emotions. These are also two productive and non destructive outlets. It became too easy for me especially lately, to say that I don’t have enough time to sketch or to practice my instruments but my mental and physical health are worth setting aside time to partake in healthier coping activities. We have to make time to take care of ourselves, otherwise it can feel like life is just this train wreck happening to us. Don’t let life happen to you, grab life by the figurative balls and show it who is boss. Next, remove your means of harm. Sometimes this is not the easiest to do because there are some objects that are unavoidable or easily replaceable. Try anyway and if you fail, try again because half the battle is the effort you exert to win. Distracting yourself can work for a time as well. Some ways to do so include calling a friend, taking a shower, going for a walk or run, playing with pets, reading a book, playing an instrument, or just removing yourself from the location where the triggering situation took place. Along with distracting yourself comes the idea that you should surround yourself with things you find soothing or calming. I find the smell of cinnamon and vanilla calming therefore I have soaps and sprays in those scents. Sometimes I will spontaneously go for a walk to nowhere in particular because for me, that is a calming distraction to just be alone with myself. Tea time is also a calming thing in my life. I drink tea steadily throughout the day because it calms me by occupying my time and smelling delightful. If you aren’t a tea drinker, find a beverage that can serve as a steady calming force for you. Partake in self-analysis, find what makes you feel calm, and implement the change into your life.
There is more than just distracting yourself, you also have to acknowledge the problem. Acknowledge that you are doing something bad for yourself, that you want to get better, and then figure out why you do it. Once you have done these, find ways to express your emotional pain. What immediately comes to mind is listening to music. Music is a great way to escape from the problem while also expressing how you feel. Writing is also a good way to express emotional pain. I’m not necessarily talking about journaling or writing poetry or crafting some grand J.K. Rowling-caliber novel. When I say writing, I mean literally just write precisely what you are thinking and feeling to yourself. This is something I do on occasion that I should do more frequently because it is especially cathartic. I will write down the thoughts going through my mind, I will type it, I will text it to myself, or even write a poem. This isn’t meant to be a grand work of art or a diary, it is just a way to expel internal turmoil. You can either destroy this writing later or you can set it aside and save it. I typically go with the latter because years later, you can look back at who you were and how you felt, allowing you to reflect and appreciate how you have grown or changed.
As cheesy as this sounds, stress balls can be a good idea. Believe it or not, having something to occupy your hands can provide a much needed distraction. Additionally, you should have things that help you feel supported and connected. This can be from friends, exercise, naptimes, curling up with a warm blanket, or even meditation or prayer. When the urge to add a new scar gets to be overwhelming, I try meditating. I am not always in the situation where I can meditate, hence the list of other ways to cope, but if I have the opportunity to take a moment for mediation, I will. I don’t believe there is any one way to meditate or any one thing to meditate on so find what works for you personally. A lot of what I am saying is that you have to take time for yourself to connect with yourself and find ways to improve your mental, emotional, and physical health. Life and the world we live in can make it seem like there is no time to slow down and just reflect but I am here to tell you that you have to make time. You cannot ignore your psyche because you and your health are too important to ignore. You matter, you are worth the effort, and you are not alone in your fight. Carry on wayward sons.