Experts often consider an eating disorder a form of self-harm. Self-harming behaviour such as cutting, burning and over-using analgesic drugs are often used as additional coping strategies for those with eating disorders. Feeling of guilt, self-hatred, body-hatred, depression and hopelessness as well as anxiety, low self-esteem and isolation are often experienced by those with eating disorders. Is self-harm something you’re also struggling with? Do you turn to it when you can’t cope with difficult feelings or circumstances? Self-harm is not something to feel ashamed of, as it’s your way of expressing the pain you’re feeling and a way of surviving, however it can cause more problems than it tries to solve. It may feel that there’s no way out, but there is hope. You can be free of it and ABC and the community here can help.
While you may want to hide the fact you are self-harming, it’s really helpful to confide in one person, someone who you trust completely, who is non- judgmental. Telling somebody else about how you are feeling can be daunting, especially admitting that you’re hurting yourself, but having someone on your side to support you is invaluable. You’ll need to think about who you can trust not to look shocked or disgusted. Consider writing a letter to a friend or close family member who may find the first face-to-face encounter too emotional.
Trying to recognise what feelings prompt you to want to self-harm and making a note of them can be really helpful. When you start to feel these feelings, go and be with the person who you’ve confided in, even if it’s by phone. Being around a person or people when you’re feeling vulnerable to self-harm can help diffuse your overwhelming emotions and reassure you that you have support around you. They may help you to solve any problems giving rise to the desire to self-harm and help you relax. Sometimes however it can be difficult to seek company,so another way to help yourself resist the need to self-harm is having a distraction, something that becomes a regular way of trying to reduce the occasions and the severity over time. Some people find going to sleep a useful method of dealing with emotions and thoughts that are building up - it can stop you from being overwhelmed by painful feelings and when you wake up you’re able to start again.
What do you find helpful in order to overcome the urge to self-harm when powerful emotions become too much to handle?