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The End of My Rope [trigger]


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Until tonight it had been over a year since I last cut myself. In the last twenty-four hours I've tried everything I could think of to stave off these feelings with no success: I can't find the energy to exercise, I try to breathe deeply but I just can't make myself relax (I physically feel like there's a weight on my chest), I went to a movie but couldn't pay attention to it, I can't focus on reading a book, I've tried taking long walks but that just gives me too much time alone with myself to ruminate, I try to play the piano or violin but I just feel sick, I try to write but I hate everything I write so I just erase it. I feel like something is horribly wrong with me and I need to be hurt and no matter how hard I try I just can't make this feeling go away. But I don't think I can talk to anyone about it either without feeling even more humiliated. I feel like I need to be punished, and although I wish there were an alternative, I just literally don't know what else to do.

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I previously came here desperate for answers and got the following very helpful answers:-

"Finally living


Hi Kalima.

If I 'hear' you correctly, you are trying not to hurt yourself, (meaning the vague idea of 'cutting,' to deal with stress) not the more serious, "I'm ending life today" = hurting myself.

If it is 'cutting,' read on...

I have not hurt myself in over 18 months. It is hard to remember our new healthy coping skills especially when life gets stressful. One trick I have learned is to get out of the house and go to a public place. You cannot do harmful things to yourself in public, but when you're at home and can hide... that impulse can be hard to ignore. I will visit a park and find something beautiful to watch - the water, the light through the trees, children playing on a playground that are absolutely delighted with a swing. Reminding myself that there is beauty in life helps me "see" the beauty in my own life.

If this makes sense to you, great. If not, I hope I didn't confuse you too much. Either way, good luck & I hope that you keep trying.



#7 07-03-2008, 06:34 PM


Administrator Join Date: Feb 2008

Posts: 109


FYI- I worked with a person who had a hard time fighting with her desire to cut at work. When she felt this way she had the following "tricks" that she would use (not all at once, just depending on the day/time/mood).

1) She linked to a funny website for a few minutes and read some jokes to take her mind off the negativity

2) She did some deep breathing exercises (see our Stress Reduction article, section about Diaphragmatic Breathing), because her workplace made her tense, and her "tenseness" made her want to cut.

3) She opened up a small journalling file and wrote for a few minutes about her feelings and thoughts and then put them away for later (when she could more intensely examine them).

4) She would take a quick bathroom break and walk up and down the stairs outside her office

5) She would switch and do some tasks that involved getting up and moving around- such as walking to the copy machine.

6) She would plug in her Ipod and blast her favorite music (so it didn't bother anyone else). "

These were for sugestions for whilst stuck in my office, I personally when I'm at home distract myself with loud obnoxious music. Either on headphones or not, depending on the time of day. And doing exersise, dancing running anything physical that requires your attention is great. I might run a bath with bubbles and insence if I've not got ther energy to be active, play some peacful music and have a bath and as ytou say breathe deeply. Count your breaths and so on.

Hope this is somewhat helpful.

Kali x

Edited by Kalima
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Thanks for responding, Kalima. Those are all good suggestions, although I really haven't found an activity yet that works for me when I get this way. Maybe I just have to keep trying. This morning I went to see a therapist I talked to briefly a while back, and I couldn't stop sobbing, even after I left, which is weird because I usually don't cry when I'm by myself, even when I'm upset. Maybe because of that I'm feeling somewhat better. I think tonight I'll try to put a jigsaw puzzle together, even though I'm not particularly good at visual things--maybe it will give me something to focus on that's benign and manageable.

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all the distraction/concentration stuff sounds good to me, as well as the being in public idea, which is wonderful for times when you can be in public. Maybe an extension to that would be to go over some trusted person's house (if you have someone who understands about this stuff) and spend time with them, maybe as an overnight guest. That might help in the same vein as being in public? Brainstorming here...

It's good to see that you've thought about how to prevent yourself from cutting, and have a plan, and are stepping through the plan. that is what you should be doing, and you are doing it, and that is wonderful.

As cutting is not a healthy coping behavior, you should do what you can to avoid cutting. However, keep in mind that if you do end up cutting, it's just a relapse, and you don't have to beat yourself up over it if you don't want to.

I'm concerned that the thought "I must not cut again ever" is pressurizing you in a negative way that is making the situation worse. For sure, cutting is not desirable, but neither should you beat yourself over the idea that it might happen again. If you can take some of the pressure to be a perfect non-cutting person off yourself, paradoxically, maybe it will be easier to resist the urge to cut. ?????

In addictions people do relapse prevention when they have a relapse. You've not relapsed, but you are having intense cravings, and that is pressure to relapse. They work on understanding the chain of events that has led them to experience intense cravings, and try to identify what they could do differently in the future, what triggers they didn't notice or pay sufficient attention to, etc. Surely something has happened here that has got you agitated, and maybe if you want to talk about it, we can help you do some relapse prevention.

Relapse is not a good thing, but neither is it a crushing failure/defeat if it happens. They happen, is all. So you try to learn from them so that you don't have to experience them too often. Rather than beat yourself up and call yourself a failure, pick yourself up and work on polishing the plan that helps you avoid relapsing again.

Keep up your good work to avoid cutting. Let us know what works for you and doesn't work.


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Thanks for the suggestions, Mark. Unfortunately, for some reason I never learned how to tell people when I'm upset, and I can't bear to be around other people when I'm feeling miserable because I feel pressure to act happy, so I usually withdraw from interaction for a while until I can get ahold of myself again.

Actually, I relapsed repeatedly: I started cutting myself basically every day. Probably not the best thing to do, but it did make me feel better. I think what I need to do is find a way to avoid getting upset in the first place.

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So - if you've relapsed back into cutting, then the immediate thing to do is to work on stopping the cutting. It's not a good idea to reinforce the tendency to harm yourself.

I think what I need to do is find a way to avoid getting upset in the first place.

That's not a bad idea, but it's also very hard to do, especially when you

never learned how to tell people when I'm upset, and I can't bear to be around other people when I'm feeling miserable because I feel pressure to act happy, so I usually withdraw from interaction

Not letting things get to you requires a certain level of detachment, but it seems that you may have trouble coming up with that detachment simply becuase you also feel pressure to conform and often these pressures are in conflict.

So - There is more to the equasion than simply trying not to get upset. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) teaches self-soothing skills which help people to calm themselves down without resorting to cutting when they find themselves upset. Also - it is a good and useful skill to learn to assert yourself in the face of social pressure to conform to a shape you don't want to take on. You may never have learned how to do this in the past, but it is a skill and you can learn it now.

What can you do today to break out of the relapse pattern of cutting yourself and get back to where you were prior to this relapse?

I don't recall if you were in therapy for this or not so perhaps you can refresh my memory about that question. Becuase if you can be, it would likely be helpful, particularly if it could be DBT.

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I don't know that it's pressure to conform, exactly. I don't want to be around other people when I'm distressed because I'll feel guilty if I infect them with my moroseness.

How am I going to stop cutting myself and go back to where I was before this relapse? I don't know. I guess I just have to decide to stop. I haven't been accomplishing much lately and I think if I could start working hard again I'd feel a lot better.

This is what sometimes helps me--these suggestions are unorthodox, though, so I understand if they're not deemed appropriate and I apologize in advance: Frequently I write a list of things I have to get done, and I include "hurt myself" on the list. Since I know I'm planning to get to it, I don't have to do it right away--I can keep putting it off--and then, sometimes by the time I do get to it, I don't feel like I need to do it anymore. Also, sometimes it helps me to pretend to hurt myself--pretend to slash my wrists, for example, without actually doing anything to myself. Or I make lists of things I dislike about myself instead of hurting myself physically.

I'm in therapy, sort of. Except that my insurance will only cover 12 visits a year, and anyway my therapist just went on vacation.

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Your right those sugestions are a tad unorthodox, but if they work for you who am I to quibble.

I was attending therpy sessions once a week but my councilor and I have decided to take it down to once every fortnight, we'd been mostly focusing on the depression but when I described how I felt she considered some of the feelings the result of anxiety.

Maybe the distractions that can be used for anxiety could work with si?

We told me about a couple of methods.

1) breathing. this really works at calming me down and I have a suspicion that it'll prolly help next time I feel the urge to hurt myself. You need to breathe slowly and correctly. Inhale for 4 seconds and make sure you can feel your diaphram rising, hold the air in your lungs for a few seconds and then exhale for 8 seconds. doing this just 3 times in a row normally makes a marked difference.

2) visualising. This one im slightly skeptical about as it takes will power that may not be avalible. Imagin a big red full stop blocking the thoughts and focus on it.

3) Distraction and using your less emotional side of the brain - count backwards in 7's, count ceiling tiles, add up how many paperclips you have etc..

X Kali

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  • 1 month later...


I know that self inijury is a very personal issue and is often done in secret, or private. When the urge is there to cut, then maybe you could exercise , or walk. Direct your energy onto something else physical and less destructive.

Anther way is to talk to a friend on the phone, or go out to the mall. Being around people will stop you from cutting.

It is easy for me to try and help others with their self injury then to try and help myself from the same behaviors... I wish you the best of luck. The first step is wanting to stop .

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