Self-Injury: Steps Toward Recovery

Who Struggles with Self-Injury?

Self-injury can occur with anyone, although it may be more common among females. Those who have the following characteristics may be especially susceptible to self-injury:

  • Perfectionism
  • Sensitivity
  • Constant changes in mood
  • Poor body image
  • Inability to express intense emotions
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Impulsiveness
  • Constant procrastination
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Poor coping methods

Also, those with eating disorders (such as bulimia and binge eating disorder) and addiction to drugs and alcohol may be especially susceptible to the practice of self-injury. In many cases where eating disorders and addiction are problems, treatment for drug abuse and help from an eating disorder treatment center are necessary.

Psychological disorders such as bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and generalized anxiety may also be common in self-injurers.

Helping Someone who Self-Injures

What can you say to help a person who self-injures? The following steps may be helpful:

  1. Offer to listen. Make yourself available to them.
  2. Be a role model, allow yourself to deal with your own feelings instead of bottling them up inside.
  3. Encourage them to join a support group.
  4. Tell them you love them and that you care.
  5. Build up trust in one another. Finding someone to trust with your secrets may be an important step in ending a cycle of self-injury.
  6. Spend time together.
  7. Be patient. Don’t force your opinions and goals on them. The more you push them to stop, the more they will feel overly pressured and will be less likely to trust you.
  8. Let them express their feelings.
  9. Look for a therapist together.
  10. Try not to judge them, make an effort to understand how they are feeling.

Most people who self-injure do so in an attempt to deal with overwhelming emotions. These overwhelming emotions may also be poorly dealt with in the form of an eating disorder or another negative coping method. Eating disorder treatment is offered at a variety of eating disorder treatment clinics. For specific treatment for anorexia or bulimia, bulimia programs and anorexia treatment centers may be most helpful.

Coping Methods for Self-Injury

Self-harm can be a difficult thing to quit, the following steps may be helpful to those who desire recovery:

  • Recognize that self-injury is unhealthy for both your physical and mental state. Develop a desire to stop.
  • Find people you can call or email when you have a strong desire to hurt yourself.
  • Use of medication may help in some cases of self-injury.
  • Write in a journal or find some other creative outlet.
  • Do not blame yourself for your behavior, this can only further self-hatred.
  • Take a bath or shower.
  • Tell someone you know and trust about your problem with self-harm. Family members, close friends, and teachers are just a few people that you may wish to talk with.
  • Hold an ice cube in your hand.
  • Try out different forms of relaxation.
  • With the help of a friend (or other person such as a therapist), determine the factors that may be causing you to self-injure so that you will be better prepared when they arise.
  • Exercise.
  • Seek out various therapy types. Cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and group therapy are just a few types that may be beneficial.
  • For those who cut, draw red lines on areas where you would normally hurt yourself.
  • Snap a rubber band on your wrist. This might be helpful to do when you get the urge to self injure.
  • Listen to music, sing, or play an instrument.
  • Throw away any tools you have used to hurt yourself.
  • Write down the reasons why you want to stop hurting yourself and why you don’t deserve to be hurting. Read this when you experience the desire to self-injure.

Self-injury and other forms of negative coping can be stopped if you are willing to try. Rehab facilities, eating disorder treatment centers, and drug and alcohol rehab centers are all places where help can be found. Many of these facilities offer specialized programs and therapy sessions as well.


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