Trying to cope with desires for self-harm

Does anyone else here struggle with desires for self-harm? Do you have any good methods to keep yourself from doing it?

I don’t know if you use tumblr or not. I follow this group and they have a page of distractions and alternatives that may help you cope.

One thing I came across that I really liked was creating a self-care box. In it you can put things like elastic bands, markers (red), positive affirmations, a journal to write in etc and you go to this when needed. I made one for my daughter. I also put a stuffed heart in it so she could hold it when needed. You can get a loved one to write out the good things they see in you and add that to the box. Candles. Incense. Whatever you find comforting and safe.


Thank you I will try to make something like that. I don’t frequently feel suicidal or depressed when I want to cut or harm myself… normally it is the result of things crawling under my skin, other times it is just a desire that comes into my head and i feel compelled to do it … i have a hard time concentrating until I have done it.

I do have a Tumblr:

I hate to say it, but I have a few carvings, and it’s not easy to put the blade down. What has been helping me is as follows:

In the moment? I do draw on myself with a black or red marker. Or I draw something really violent.

Then once I calm down a bit:

  1. distract myself when I’m getting stressed.
  2. Get away from the situation that made me want to do this
  3. Journal what just happened

4 is the biggie; reward myself in someway for not doing it. I either treat myself to a small purchase, either some new crayons or art supplies, or I splash out and go do something new like go to a place I’ve “always wanted to try” What better day to try it then after a personal triumph?


the only thing that stops me is not wanting more scars. i have a few burns on my hands and wrist and scares on my legs. from my dark days. i hate them and dont want more

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Thank you! I wrote these down and I will try to implement this.

Tattoo’s seem to help. I have a rather large start of a sleeve on my left arm and I don’t generally have a desire to cut the artwork… but my right arm which is not covered in tattoos has huge lacerations and scratch marks and the like all over it.

Tattoos are expensive and not something I can currently afford, but they seem to help.

I tried to fool myself and my deep cuts are in the shapes of waves, zen symbols, (my ironic humor)

So I was trying to pass it off like a tribal scaring, but I was still caving into my own skin with a knife in times of high stress and deep frustration. I really need to find a new support group.

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I can’t find support groups here locally. I wish there was more mental health services in Oklahoma. Hate this state… can’t wait to be able to afford moving.


I really struggled with this at points in the past. I made a comfort box that I put stuff in that would soothe me so whenever I got the urge to SI/SU I would pull out that box and use one of the things in it. Stuff like silly putty, play doh, playing cards, sheets that I had written positive statements on, pop rocks to engage my 5 senses, photos of serene things, balls to throw, etc…

I also came up with a list of pros and cons for engaging in self injury. I looked at it from all four sides. Here it is and i hope people here add to it:

  • Feel better in the long run, healthier
  • might be able to identify trigger
  • Stronger relationships
  • Willingness
  • Save $ by not going to ER and on med supplies


  • Immediate gratification
  • Feels good, releases pressure
  • gets past the emotion or memory more quickly
  • distraction from the real problem
  • stuffs the emotion, just feel the pain
  • willfullness
  • comforting, familiar behavior
  • makes me feel high


  • Hurt Self and family and friends
  • could cause death or permanent injury
  • costs - ER, bills, hospitals
  • mess to clean up
  • shame, guilt, embarrassment
  • further compounds problems
  • never get to real cause of wanting to SI/SU
  • Uncomfortable
  • Upset SO, family, friends
  • hurts relationships
  • scars
  • having to explain scars and wounds to others
  • putting SO through hell
  • willfullness
  • tomorrow it will hurt and days after too!
  • it will probably get infected and hurt more!
  • it will itch and make you crazy!
  • long sleeves and pants in the summer
  • wasting money on bandages, towels is stupid, I need money for better things.
  • it makes me more lonely.


  • Temporarily uncomfortable but it will pass and things will get better.

I hope we can add to my list!


YES. You’re not alone on this one. I used to put cigarettes out on myself and one time I punched a brick wall, one time I punched a concrete floor, one time I punched a glass covered picture on the wall and got glass stuck in my knuckles, my right hand is scarred and the middle knuckle has been cracked, ossified and dislocated and is now bigger than my other knuckles and looks funny.

I found that exercise was the best self harm. My evaluator said that my exercise at the time of my evaluation was equivalent to cutting every day. I ate a spartan diet, not much and did tons of different types of exercise.

Today I am a competitive powerlifter but on an organized team training on a program with other people, so it’s social and constructive, the programs are made my the highest ranked lifters on the team (the coach who is the captain of the team and owns the gym and one of the personal trainers who is a nationally ranked lifter) so it’s not the same as when I just ate one piece of toast, drank 4 cups of coffee and ran until I couldnt move or ate a chicken breast and two slices of bread then took a bunch of weightlifting stimulants (too much, way too much of course) and would go into the gym and not even warm up and just workout like I was on drugs (I sort of was, unmedicated schizophrenic on 1000mg of caffeine is “fucked up” in my book)

I eat plenty of food now, saturdayI ate a whole meat pizza as well as other meals. I weigh 167, im gonna be competitng in the 165lb weight class, I am the smallest lifter on the team by far. The other guys are all close to 200 or way over 200. The other guys my height, 5’6-5’8 are all at least 190, they have about 30lbs on me. Im 5’7 on the dot, there are three other guys who use my settings for the heavy squats machine, its called a monolift and it has to be positioned perfectly according to your height. It’s kind of cool, you unrack the bar and they pull the rack away so you dont have to step back, then when you’re done they put the rack under the bar again.


This is a wonderful idea. Thank you for posting this. I am going to copy and paste this and use it if you don’t mind. Somedays, I’m doing well. I can step back. But other days, I give in and then it’s time to bandage.

For me, it’s hard for the skin to heal well considering I’m in the pool 3 hours a day for my job. To hide it I would wear a wet suit, only the water is teaching pool temp which is 90 degrees. Too hot for a wet suit.

DBT therapy over the past 2 years has really taught me all the skills I never learned on how to cope healthily with daily stresses. The comfort box, distractions, building mastery, pros and cons all take soooo much practice but it truly does work.


I practised self-harm a lot too, usually cutting my arm with scissors. I did it for the following reasons: either I was too dead and wanted to feel alive, or wanted to ease the mental agony within channeling it into the body, or I wanted to punish myself for a mistake I made or an argument I caused.
When I was in hospital in the therapeutic ward they taught me to use an elastic band which I would put around my wrist and snap when I got the urge to cut. so far so good, it works for me, because it produces pain without scars or blood - and my hubby doesn’t get sad like when I cut.


I’m going to be doing this very soon. Thank you for this idea.


I take an anti depressant to keeep those sort of thoughts at bay. Also, whenever I feeel like harming myself, I treat myself to something I like: it can be as simple as buying a really good piece of chocolate.