The following is a (by no means exhaustive) quick reference quick to resources and help I’ve mentioned at various times on this blog and in IDNHAED. For future reference, this directory can be found on my front page (below the IDNHAED comic directory). Please feel free to submit any other resources you come across via my Askbox.
Stay well and look after yourself <3
All my love,
“Is hair pulling really considered self harm? I do that all the time.
(Sorry,I couldn’t find an ask but I really was wondering)”
It’s really open to interpretation, and I think many doctors will differ in their opinions. Technically anything you do to intentionally harm yourself is self-harm. But what qualifies as ‘harm’? Does it have to be painful? Does it have to leave a mark? In my case, I classify my hair-pulling as self harm, because even though it doesn’t leave any permanent damage, I feel some relief from the pain it produces, similar to what I get from other forms of self harm.
In terms of whether or not you should worry about your hair pulling, try to look at where it’s coming from for you personally. Is it an obsession? Do you do it more when you’re stressed? Does it make you feel better? If you’re genuinely concerned that it’s coming from a negative place and could progress to other behaviours, talk to your GP.
All my love,
I DO NOT HAVE AN EATING DISORDER - Page 75 Trigger Warning: suicidal ideations, self harm
Being in the mental space shown here was unbearable. My head felt so overcrowded and impossible to deal with. I was so miserable and struggling to cope, exploding from every side, yet wrought with guilt for the desperate sadness this brought out in others. My girlfriend was living on the other side of the world at the time, and I remember so vividly that moment of her shouting ‘I love you!’ repeatedly down the phone line, every ounce of strength in her voice willing the words to reach me and change something. I wanted more than anything for those words to mean something, to feel real, to wrap themselves around me and hold me in warmth so that I could breathe some relief from this heartache, but I was pretty unreachable by then.
I’m not proud to admit how much I relied on bad strategies at the time to try to keep myself calm and away from more dangerous thoughts. I can’t recall if I’ve spoken about it before, but I’ve had trichotillomania for a while - a compulsion to pull out your own hair. I use this to calm down in the same way you might snap a rubber band on your wrist. It started on my eyebrows, then my pubes and armpit hair, and progressively settled on my legs (it took a lot of work to stop plucking my eyebrows, but they were starting to completely disappear). The hair pulling isn’t really too bad considering the other strategies at the time were starving/obsessively weighing myself, and cutting/bruising. I’d managed to go a few years without cutting at all, and all I had were old scars, but it came back in force when I got desperate. I wish I’d been able to remind myself of two things back then:
1. Feelings are temporary, and they will pass. Before too long I would feel a lot better than I did at the time, and my sense of hope would return.
2. Suicidal thoughts are just thoughts. They do not necessarily mean you want to die or might kill yourself, but they are a warning sign that it’s time to seek more support. Thoughts are also temporary, and can be changed.
For anyone struggling with self-harm right now, or who may have been triggered by this page, here’s a link back to the comic page in which I cover some strategies I use to deal with those urges:
For anyone struggling with suicidal ideations or fears, there always help available:
IMAlive - online chat for those struggling with thoughts of suicide who don’t feel up to talking on the phone:
Suicide line 1300 651 251
Lifeline 13 11 14
USA and Canada:
Hopeline 1800 SUICIDE (1800 784 2433)
Suicide prevention hotline 1800 273 TALK (1800 273 8255)
UK and Ireland:
Hopeline 0800 068 41 41
Samaritans 08457 90 90 90 (Rep of Ireland 1850 60 90 90)
France (thank you Tumblr et-un-raton-laveur):
Suicide Ecoute 01 45 39 4000
SOS Suicide Phenix: 0825 120 364
NZ (thank you anonymous Tumblr):
0800 543 354
Finland (thank you Tumblr salriella):
Valtkunnallinen kriisipuhelin 01019 5202
Remember, if you are ever in serious trouble, you can call emergency services (911 / 000).
You are so important. Please take care of yourself.
Hey guys, I need some help for a friend. Do you have any good resources for self-harming? Ideally in French, because that’s my friend’s native language, but she can understand English relatively well.
She really needs some help, but I don’t have any resources handy for her. Can anyone link me to some?
Here’s the list of emergency strategies from my comic:
Also check out the support blog http://selfharmhelp.tumblr.com/
From this blog post. This is a good list for folks who struggle with dissociation, depersonalization, and dysphoria.
Focus on a body part. Notice your right fingertip or your left knee. How does it feel? Does it hurt? Is it cool or warm? Do you feel a breeze? When I first tried this exercise, I found it almost impossible to feel anything if it didn’t hurt. If my left elbow was just floating in space, I couldn’t feel it, but I could feel it if I touched it or rubbed it against something else. If you’re having the same problem, notice how your body part feels when you stroke it with a feather or brush it against the carpet.
Name your sensation. Although words come from the mind, they can help connect the mind and the body by giving name to what you feel. For example, I’ve been skiing in Lake Tahoe for two weeks, so right now, my right cheek feels warm from a little bit of sun and windburn. My left thigh feels energized, achy, and cool under my thin pants in the snow. Be specific with the words you choose - does your body part feel stiff, loose, light, heavy, tingly, warm, cold, sensitive, numb, strong, weak, painful? Try to avoid describing your sensation in general terms that don’t employ at least one of the five senses. Be specific.
Practice movement. Dancing, practicing yoga, hiking, cycling, skiing, and other such physical activity can make you more aware of your body - what feels yummy and what hurts! Even pain can be a teacher about body awareness, so don’t be afraid to lean into what you feel.
Use the floor. When I was taking Nia dance classes, I had the hardest time feeling my body when my body parts were floating in space. Then I discovered dancing on the floor. By rolling around on the floor, my body had something to be in relationship with. I could feel how my knee felt on the floor instead of just how it felt in the air.
Optimize clothing. Wearing loose fitting clothes that brush against your skin when you move can help too. I tend to wear tight-fitting clothes like leggings and leotards when I dance, hike, or take yoga. But when I tried the same activities while wearing free-flowing skirts and shirts with loose sleeves, I felt my body in a whole new way.
Get sexual. Nothing like a good orgasm to help you notice your body!
When trying to make a decision, notice how your body is responding. That guy who asked you out? How does your body feel - light or heavy? New job offer? Does your body feel open or closed? Your body is your compass. Pay attention.
Listen to your body’s messages. When I had less experience being in my body, massage therapists would ask me before a massage whether I had any problem areas. I always said no - and then they found every tight spot on me! Ignoring the warning signals from the body predisposes you to injury and fails to catch illness before it becomes severe. Now, after learning from the whispers of my body (as I described here in my TEDx talk), I pay more attention to the whispers of my body as both preventative medicine and treatment.
Ask your body “What do you need in order to heal?” Trust the answers.
Breathe. When you pay attention to your breathing, it helps center you into your body.
Very useful as well as a way too try to intervene if you are worried about self harm. I really struggle with trying to escape negative bodily sensations when they feel unbearable. Trying these more.
One thing to remember: Yes, your body is your compass, but don’t use that as an excuse if you know you’ve learned to ignore your body’s signals, i.e. long term ED sufferers. Sometimes you will have to eat even if you don’t want to.
TRIGGER WARNING: Self harm
I DO NOT HAVE AN EATING DISORDER - Page 55
Our bodies store memories in all of the senses, and the smarting of the fresh tattoo wounds triggered some very deep memories of when I’d given myself comfort through self-harm, which at the time represented control for me. Back then, the ultimate satisfaction would come from feeling that pain. I remember once having a toddler jump on my lap unexpectedly (I was a Sunday School teacher) and the sudden jolt opened some recent self-inflicted wounds on my thighs. As I nursed the child in my lap, feeling that fresh pain somehow centred me. I was reminded that I was completely alone in my struggle, but completely in control of it, and that gave me comfort. Somehow the very twisted idea of taking joy in my ‘sick’ habits whilst teaching children about God also made me feel delightfully deviant.
I feel extremely fortunate to have come so far, in that self injury doesn’t play such a significant part in my life anymore, and that I know I am not alone in this struggle. My partner knows all my scars and loves me just the same. And since getting this tattoo, I feel like I have another ‘checkpoint’ to remind me that I’m still in control of my own body.
Also, I am aware that there are song lyrics along these lines, but it really doesn’t matter. I’m certainly not the first person to string these four words together, but they mean something to me, something I need to tell myself every day.
For those who are still struggling with self injury, here are some ‘checkpoint’ techniques you can use when the urge strikes you, if you want to try to calm yourself down without actually self-harming:
- Take some ice, frozen peas etc and apply them quickly to the area where you usually cut. The sudden shock of the cold will sometimes be enough to ground you again, particularly as your skin becomes accustomed to the cold. I find that after a few minutes, taking the cold object away and touching the cold skin with your warm hand can be a wonderful reminder that you are alive
- Similarly, pressing your arms up against a cold window or wall is helpful when having a panic attack. It forces your body to redirect blood flow in response to the sudden cold, and forcibly slows your heart rate.
- Use a red pen or marker to create fake cuts (a ballpoint pen is often good because it simulates the pain of cutting to some extent). If you tend to hit, make ‘bruises’ from paint or ink smudges. Cover yourself as much as you feel you need to. Take the time to care for yourself, look at yourself in the mirror, then take a shower or a bath. Be extremely gentle with yourself as you wash away your scars/bruises, reminding yourself that they are always your choice.
- (picked up from other brilliant Tumblrs) take a photo or draw a full body picture of yourself that you are comfortable with. Make a bunch of photocopies. Use coloured pens to illustrate on the image where you’d like to self harm. Do as much damage as you want, on as many copies as you want, until the urge passes.
- Talk to someone. If you have a support person you can call, great, but even if you don’t, talk to anyone. Go down to the shops and chat to the checkout chick. The act of recognising and understanding language requires the non-emotional part of your brain, which forces you to step out of that emotional core. Similarly, anything that requires a lot of focus with your hands, such as playing an instrument, can have a similar benefit.
Look after yourself, and ask for help when you need it. There are always people who want to listen to us.