oHave you ever felt overwhelmed and at a loss as to how to deal with your feelings?
oHave you ever felt so guilty or ashamed that you wanted to punish yourself?
oHave you ever felt so numb that you yearned to feel something?
oHave you ever wanted to express your feelings of pain, sadness, hurt, self-loathing,
guilt, frustration, or anger, but you just didn’t know how to put them into words?
oHave you ever felt like your life is out of control, and you wanted to have control over
oHave you ever harmed yourself physically in some way, in order to cope with any of
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Self-harm, also known as self-injury, self mutilation or cutting,
There are many ways that people harm themselves. Cutting, scratching, burning, hitting, banging one’s head against something, ingesting objects or poisonous substances, preventing wounds from healing, sticking objects into the skin, punching something, or throwing oneself again the wall are just some of the ways a person can hurt him or herself. How have you harmed yourself?
What’s the good news?
Thankfully, self-harm does not have to be a permanent way of dealing with difficult emotions. You can learn to handle emotional pain or numbness through healthy coping skills. Try to identify the feelings that make you want to harm yourself, so that you can develop healthier alternatives. Here are some suggestions:
If you cut to express pain and intense emotions
•Paint, draw, or scribble on a big piece of paper with red ink or paint
•Express your feelings in a journal
•Compose a poem or song to say what you feel
•Write down any negative feelings and then rip the paper up
•Listen to music that expresses what you’re feeling
If you cut to calm and soothe yourself
•Breathe deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth, for 3 or 4 counts
•Visualize yourself in a safe place (indoors or outdoors), and imagine what you would
see, hear, smell and touch there
•Take a warm bath or hot shower
•Pet or cuddle with a dog or cat
•Wrap yourself in a warm blanket
•Massage your neck, hands, and feet
•Listen to calming music
•Take a walk outside
If you cut because you feel disconnected and numb
•Call a trusted friend or family member
•Take a cold shower
•Hold an ice cube in the crook of your arm or leg
•Chew something with a very strong taste, like chili peppers, peppermint, or a
•Go online to a self-help website, chat room, or message board
If you cut to release tension or vent anger
•Exercise vigorously—run, dance, jump rope, or hit a punching bag (if ok’d by your
•Punch a cushion or mattress or scream into your pillow
•Squeeze a stress ball or squish Play-Doh or clay
•Rip something up (sheets of paper, a magazine)
•Make some noise (play an instrument, bang on pots and pans)
***Most importantly, if you are a minor, ask an adult you trust to help you find a counselor. Talking to a professional is a healthy outlet for emotional suffering, and the counselor can help you learn and practice strategies to cope with your feelings and prevent self-injury. To make an appointment at New Day Counseling, call 248-649-8050.***
What can I do if I suspect that someone I know is harming him or herself?
Possible signs that your child, family member, or friend is self-injuring include:
ounexplained wounds or scars
osharp objects in the person’s possession
ocovering up with long sleeves, pants, or other clothing
oisolation and/or irritability
You can help them by doing the following:
•Encourage open communication, even if you feel uncomfortable talking about self-harm
•Listen without judgment or negativity
•Offer concern and support, not lectures, punishment or threats
•Educate yourself about self-harm
•Help the person you care about seek appropriate professional help.
is a method that some teens (and adults) use to alleviate, or ease, emotional pain. Fortunately, it does not necessarily mean that you or someone you know is suicidal (although, if you ever have suicidal thoughts or feelings, tell an adult you trust, and call 911 or immediately seek help from a professional). However, there is some physical risk to self-harm, such as the possibility of cutting too deeply or getting an infection. If this happens, seek immediate medical treatment. Also, though self-harm may bring temporary relief, in the long term it can increase emotional pain due to feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and loneliness. The constant fear of family, friends, teachers, or others seeing marks or scars can leave you feeling stressed and guilty around the clock. It can strain your relationships with the people you love, and prevent you from turning to them for help. It can become a compulsive habit that is challenging to break. It can also lead to other unhealthy coping skills, like using drugs and alcohol. Self-injury is only a temporary solution, and the emotional pain will eventually come flooding back. All of this can lead to more self-harm.