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Cutting and Self-Harm: The Raw Truth

Can you identify with this story of cutting and self-harm?

Sarah likes the feeling she gets from taking a razor blade to her skin. The ruby red blood that oozes from the narrow crevasse of the fresh cut isn’t terrifying.   In fact, she's comforted because the pain she feels deep inside her is released. 

It’s as though by cutting her flesh Sarah is exorcising her fears, guilt, self-loathing and other pain too complex to understand.  For a brief time Sarah feels totally in control... that is until the next cutting session. 


Find Help For Cutting and Self-Harm
Find Help For Cutting and Self-Harm

Photo Image by:Refe


Millions of people like Sarah choose to cut or injure themselves not from the need for attention, but as a way of coping with emotional hurt, anger, sadness, guilt.   

Cutting and Self-Harm:
Important Things to Remember

People who self-harm don’t want to die.  Ironically, these actions provide a sense of comfort and control over their lives.

At least for a short while. 

People who self-harm aren’t mentally unstable. Many suffer from depression and anxiety and choose to use cutting as a way of neutralizing the negative emotions. 

Self-injure isn’t done for attention.  Instead, these activities are done in secret, out shame and fear of being judged or not being understood by friends and family.

   Common Ways People Choose to Self-Injure

  • Burning or scalding
  • Severely scratching or cutting the skin with a sharp object like a razor blade
  • Hitting oneself
  • Punching hard surfaces like a wall, door, tree trunk
  • Purposely preventing wounds from healing (i.e. by reopening them or removing scabs)
  • Swallowing harmful substances
  • Having unprotected sex
  • Binge drinking
  • Reckless driving



Suspect that a Friend or Loved One
Is Hurting Themselves?   

Here are some signs to look out for...

  • Unexplained scars on the wrists, chest, arms and thighs
  • Sharp objects like razor blades, bottle caps, knives and needles in the person’s possession.
  • Wearing clothes that cover up the arms and legs even during the summer months.
  • Blood stains on clothes, towels and sheets.

 Long-term Consequences of
Cutting and Self-Harm

There are very dangerous long-term risks for the self-injurer if he/she doesn’t seek help.

Not seeking help for the emotional hurt that contributes to cutting can lead to worse problems like major depression and substance abuse. Plus,the risk of suicide is more likely.

Cutting and self-harm can become addictive leading to compulsive behavior that can be extremely difficult to overcome.

Depth of cuts can be misjudged leading to serious injury such as cutting a vein.


 Finding Help for Cutting and Self-Harm

Cutting and other self-injurious activities can be very hard to stop because of the deep feeling of relief and control that comes as a result. 

The first step toward healing from this compulsion is to want to seek help. 

It’s also important to find someone to confide in.

Cutting and Self-Harm Help Techniques

It’s a good idea to identify your triggers.  Meaning the feelings and thoughts that lead you to want to harm yourself. 

Do you cut or self-injure because you feel numb, sad, angry or guilty?  Once you identify your triggers look for healthy alternatives to cutting.

It’s crucial to find alternative ways of dealing with internal pain.  These suggestions help release feelings in a healthy way.

If you’re feeling numb:

  • Take a cold shower.  Stand under a cold stream of water, as cold as you can stand.
  • Chew chili peppers

If you’re feeling anger or rage:

  • Write down your feelings on a piece of paper then rip up the paper and throw it away, burn it or flush it down the toilet
  • Listen to music that expresses how you’re feeling inside
  • Take out your aggression on a punching bag (use boxing gloves to protect your hands)
  • Take up kickboxing or take a self-defense class
  • Draw or paint what you’re feeling inside using red paint or ink
  • Carry around a stress ball and squeeze it whenever those feelings of anger or rage pop up

Self-Help Techniques For Cutters

If you still want to cut, do so by using your imagination.

Use a red non-toxic marker and make lines on your skin where you would cut.  The red color of the marker simulates blood.

Place a rubber band around your wrists. Snap the rubber band whenever you get the urge to cut.



Resources:

These resources provide additional information about cutting and self-harm.

S.A.F.E Solutions offers education and help for ending self-injury.

Psyke.org offers coping skills including alternatives for cutting, staying in the present, mindfulness, etc.



I hope this article helps you on your journey towards better mental health.

Bright Skies Are Ahead,




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Week 1

This first installment focuses on the link between exercise, diet and good mental health.

Week 2

I'll talk about the importance of using relaxation techniques to lift your mood and calm your nerves, which in turn improves mental health. 

Week 3

This week all about using self-esteem to improve mental health and overall well-being. 

Week 4

This final week presents ways to reduce social media usage. Studies show that over consumption of social media contributes to anxiety and depression.

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Week 1

This first installment focuses on the link between exercise, diet and good mental health.

Week 2

I'll talk about the importance of using relaxation techniques to lift your mood and calm your nerves, which in turn improves mental health. 

Week 3

This week all about using self-esteem to improve mental health and overall well-being. 

Week 4

This final week presents ways to reduce social media usage. Studies show that over consumption of social media contributes to anxiety and depression.

Click here to start this free e-course!