Dealing with urges

Discussion in 'Self Harm & Substance Abuse' started by Cute_Angel_Xx, Jan 25, 2011.

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  1. Cute_Angel_Xx

    Cute_Angel_Xx Account Closed

    Hey I found something really useful and helpful. Thought if could help some of use as well. The articles called dealing with urges.

    Dealing with urgesThe urge to self-harm can leave you feeling powerless and overwhelmed. looks at what's causing these urges and gives you some useful tips on how to deal with them.
    What's making me want to self-harm?
    At times, we all might use destructive behaviours to cope with stress. For example, some people may drink too much or take drugs. If you're self-harming, it might be your way of dealing with overwhelming emotions or painful thoughts perhaps caused by traumatic, abusive or difficult experiences in the past.
    Difficult feelings, like anger or guilt, can build up inside you until they become unbearable. You might feel the only way to find relief is to self-harm, distracting yourself from the emotional pain by concentrating on the physical one. But if you don't deal with the underlying emotional issues behind your self-harm, each episode may only provide temporary relief and the urge to harm yourself will keep coming back.

    Put your feelings down on paper
    Why can I control an urge one day and not another?
    When stressful events push any of us over our emotional threshold, it can make us feel overwhelmed and more likely to head for a bottle of vodka than an early night. If things come to a head, the feelings can become so intense that things you normally take in your stride become too much to cope with, causing you to seek immediate release through self-harm. But if things are going well and you're feeling in control, the urges are much easier to resist. "You might be able to live with the urge to self-harm for days and then it can fade, but at other times you can only bear the urge for a few hours before a trigger event takes you over the edge into self-injury," says Wedge, who runs First Signs.
    When you don't feel like self-harming
    If you're not feeling the urge to self-harm, it's a good time to think about what coping strategies have been helpful in the past that you could use again in the future:
    You might be able to live with the urge to self-harm for days and then it can fade, but at other times you can only bear the urge for a few hours before a trigger event takes you over the edge into self-injury.
    Think of the last time you went through something stressful but didn't self-harm and write down anything you did differently. What specific things did you think or do which helped you?
    Try to work out what thoughts and feelings lead you to feel the urge to self-harm. List 10 different ways you could deal with these triggers in the future;
    How does self-harming make you feel? If it makes you feel in control, think of things you could do to get the same feeling but without hurting yourself;
    Write down things you like about yourself and why you want to stop self-harming so you can review it at times you're feeling low;
    Choose someone you can quickly get in touch with for a chat when you feel like self-harming.
    Self-help tips
    There are many self-help tips that may help you, otherwise known as 'alternatives to self-harm', or 'coping tips and distractions'. You might find some are more effective than others. Don't be disheartened if a technique isn't successful. Try a different one to see if it works better for you. Here are a few you might want to try:
    The 15-minute rule - if you're feeling the urge to self-harm, give yourself 15 minutes before you do. Distract yourself by going for a run or writing down your feelings. When the time's up, see if you can extend it by another 15 minutes. Try to keep going until the urge subsides;
    Meditation - try to visualise the urge as an emotional wave you can surf. Imagine it reaching a crescendo then breaking as you successfully resist its force;
    Write a list of things you've achieved that make you feel proud, or fill a box with things that make you happy, such as pictures of friends and loved ones. Keep them handy and look at them when you're feeling bad;
    Practice expressing your emotions and feelings through art or writing or talking to a friend.
    Questions to ask before you self-harm
    If you can recognise the triggers or thoughts involved in the build up to self-harm, you may be able to use alternative coping strategies before the urge gets too strong. Try asking yourself the following questions:
    Why am I feeling the need to hurt myself? What thoughts, feelings or events have made me feel this way?
    How am I feeling right now and when was the last time I felt this? How did I deal with it then and how did that make me feel?
    If I do self-harm, how will I feel about myself later?
    Is there anything else I can do to ease this feeling that doesn't involve hurting myself?
    Overcoming the urge to self-harm can be an uphill struggle and you may have to push yourself to use these alternatives. Finding ways of dealing with difficult feelings without hurting yourself is an important step towards recovery.
    Good article? Bad info? We'd really like to hear what you've got to say about this section, so please click here to take the survey. Your feedback is confidential and as anonymous as you like.
    Updated: 13/03/2009
    Written by Marcella Carnevale

    Its been great to read and really useful for me :hug: x
  2. Cute_Angel_Xx

    Cute_Angel_Xx Account Closed

    Coping tips and distractionsNo one is going to tell you that it's easy to stop self-harming, especially when you're doing it because you see no other way out. But by finding alternatives, you may be able to reduce the urge to self-harm, as well as minimising the damage.
    It may be that you've tried a number or alternatives to self-harming and they don't work - but perhaps there's something you've not tried, or it's just that you're not sure how best to do it. There's several ways you can cope with self-harming, whether it's by distracting yourself, or by finding a substitute for self-harm.
    Self-harm: distraction tips

    Is using an alternative as bad as self-harming itself?
    Using alternatives to self-harm will help you get through an intense moment when you may feel a strong urge to hurt yourself. But it's never going to be easy, especially when you're trying to break the cycle for the first time. Doing something like squeezing ice won't cure the roots of your distress, but it may help you to use a more productive coping mechanism and show you that you can cope with stress in a less harmful way. You'll have to make a conscious effort to not hurt yourself, but the important thing is that if you do decide to use an alternative, you've made that choice yourself.
    Minimise self-harm damage
    If you feel an even stronger urge to self-harm, try the following harm minimisation tips:
    Use a red felt tip pen to mark where you might usually cut;
    Hit pillows or cushions, or have a good scream into a pillow or cushion to vent anger and frustration;
    Rub ice across your skin where you might usually cut, or hold an ice-cube in the crook of your arm or leg;
    Put elastic bands on wrists, arms or legs and flick them instead of cutting or hitting;
    Have a cold bath or shower.
    "One of the reasons that young people say they self-harm and may be cutting or injuring themselves, is that something has happened in their life that has made them feel contaminated or polluted by what's happened, whether it's physical or emotional," says Frances McCann, mental health practitioner. "It becomes a way of 'letting something out' and dealing with feelings of self-disgust or low self-esteem."
    If you are going to harm yourself:
    Avoid drugs and alcohol as these can lead you to do more damage than you intended;
    Get your tetanus vaccination up-to-date;
    Try to avoid doing it when in a highly distressed state as you may cause more damage than you intended;
    Learn basic first aid;
    Self-harm is private, but think about how you can quickly access help if you seriously hurt yourself;
    Avoid using tablets or medicines - there is no such thing as a safe overdose.
    The A-Z of distractions
    Often the best thing is to find out what has worked for other people who understand where you're coming from. asked young people from young people's mental health service, 42nd Street in Manchester, to come up with some of the alternatives that help them.
    Alternative therapies: massage, reiki, meditation, acupuncture, aromatherapy.
    Bake or cook something tasty.
    Clean (and won't your folks/housemates be pleased!).
    Craftwork: make things, draw or paint.
    Dance your socks off.
    Eat sweets or chocolate for an instant sugar rush (but be careful of the dip in your mood once it's over).
    Exercise for a release of endorphins and that feel-good factor.
    Forward planning - concentrate on something in the future, like a holiday.
    Go for a walk (preferably further than the local pub).
    Go online and look at websites that offer you advice and information.
    Hang out with friends and family.
    Have a bubble bath with lots of bath bombs fizzing around you.
    Have a good cry.
    Hug a soft toy.
    Invite a friend round.
    Join a gym or a club.
    Knit (it's not just for old people you know).
    Listen to music.
    Music: singing, playing instruments, listening to (basically making as much noise as you can).
    Open up to a friend or family member about how you are feeling.
    Pop bubble wrap.
    Phone a helpline or a friend.
    Play computer games.
    Play with a stress ball or make one yourself.
    Read a book.
    Rip up a phone directory (does anyone actually use them these days?).
    Scream into an empty room.
    Shop 'til you drop.
    Smoke - smokers find that having a fag can help.
    Spend time with babies (when they're in a good mood).
    Tell or listen to jokes.
    Use the internet.
    Visit a zoo or a farm (animals do the best things).
    Volunteer for an organisation (will make you feel all warm inside).
    Watch TV or films - particularly comedies.
    Write: diary, poems, a book.
    Write negative feelings on paper, then rip them up.
    Yoga: meditation, deep breathing - this might help you relax and control your urges.
    Zzz - get a good night's sleep.
  3. Cute_Angel_Xx

    Cute_Angel_Xx Account Closed

    Confiding in someoneSelf-harming is a personal thing and opening up to people can be scary, but it may be that you feel you want to talk about self-harm and the problems you are having. looks at how you can do this.
    Building up the courage
    Finding the right time to tell people you self-harm can be the most difficult part. "It has to be the right time for you and the other person," suggests Nigel Sampson, an adolescent specialist for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Portsmouth. "Only tell them when you're 100% sure it's the right time for you. Wait until the other person is calm. Be honest and say you have something to share and that it may be a shock, but that you're looking for help, not sympathy."
    Self-harm: confiding in someone
    Finding someone to confide in about self-harm is a crucial part of the recovery process.

    You may have decided to speak in confidence to someone because it's really getting you down, you've hurt yourself badly or you want to stop. But knowing how, and when, to tell people is the first step. Using the right tone of voice and being confident can help you and the person you're telling feel more comfortable. One method mental health workers often advise young people to use to help them tell people about their self-harming is to share a diary. You don't have to literally show them it - use the diary as a prompt, like a script or notes, to help you feel confident about going through the thoughts you've had about injuring or harming yourself. If you haven't written a diary, consider doing one for a few days before telling someone. It might help you talk more clearly when you do tell someone, whoever it might be.
    Knowing who is best
    Finding someone you can trust with personal information can be hard - someone who isn't going to gossip, think you are mad, take control or reject you. Deciding who you feel most at ease talking to is all about going with your heart and being prepared to take a risk. Think about who has been there for you in the past - is it a teacher, lecturer, work mate, friend or family member? "Whoever it is, set boundaries around the conversation," Nigel advises. "Just because you are telling that person it doesn't give them permission to tell everyone else. Make sure the person you're about to tell is someone you can rely on. Pick someone you know well who won't get angry. Be clear that you're telling them to seek help and that this doesn't mean you'll stop self-harming just because you've told someone."
    Dealing with people's responses
    There will be people you talk to who don't understand self-harm. They might find it uncomfortable to talk about or get embarrassed. Some people may even think you're someone that they should stay away from. This might make you feel angry or rejected, especially if it's a friend or family member.
    Try and explain what self-harm is about for you, especially if the other person's assumptions don't fit.
    It's likely that you'll feel much better after talking to someone, but be prepared that they might not react how you expect. "People do find it uncomfortable to talk about self-harming because they have little knowledge about the subject or because they think it means you have suicidal thoughts," Nigel says. "But this is very often not the case."
    "Try and explain what self-harm is about for you, especially if the other person's assumptions don't fit," suggests Frances McCann, from young people's mental health service, 42nd Street .
    Use your instincts
    Having someone listen to you about your self-harming will help a lot. Use your instincts as your guide to how far you go with what you say to people. Consider the following tips from Nigel and Frances:
    Telling people about self-harming for the first time: Don't rush through your story and do let the other person ask questions. Just don't feel pressured to answer them all. If the other person becomes distressed, carry on the conversation another time.
    Being confident: Talking openly and honestly relaxes people. It shows an insight into why you're doing it and helps make it clear it's not attention seeking. You're sharing something very personal with them, but be clear and confident in what you're saying.
    Your injuries: You don't have to show someone your injuries or scars - it's up to you. However, if you are talking to a nurse or GP part of their role will be to check out if any wounds need treating.
    The professionals
    With something as private as self-harming, you'll know the people that you can confide in safely; people you can trust. But if there is no one, or if you feel ready to take a new step to help yourself, there are lots of professional services out there that can help so don't be afraid to ask.
    Updated: 13/09/2010
    Written by Anthony Burt
  4. Fitzy

    Fitzy Well-Known Member

    Thanks for this - valuable information and support. X
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