Two years ago I started volunteering as a crisis counselor. 15 years after starting my journey, I was talking people off the ledge I had made a home of. The higher ups sent out links to videos and PDF files regularly to arm us with the best weapons to fight people fighting themselves. The most up to date scientific findings and fixes for souls in crisis. While going through some of the information they sent me I was shocked to find that none of the suggestions for self harm had changed in the last 15 years. How could the best advice still be to draw a red mark on your arm or snap a rubber band on your wrist?
I remember first hearing these alternatives years ago in a group therapy session along with, go for a run, watch a movie, write in a journal, and listen to music. Were these people joking? I had done all of those things and none of them soothed me the way a razor across my skin could. I had the urge to repeatedly perform a violent act against myself and they thought a little self care was going to prevent that? I didn’t think it was reasonable to expect people to replace inflicting physical pain on themselves with journaling. That’s like going from 60 to 0.
But what do we do? What can we suggest to help those fighting urges to self harm? The fact is, years later I’m left with this compounded self hate when I look at my scars. If I had found any alternatives maybe I could be wearing bathing suits or getting undressed with the lights on. Maybe I wouldn’t have had to stop the partners that kissed me and explain to them what they were about to see ruining the mood and my chance at healthy relationships. Maybe I could be wearing shorts when it’s god awful hot outside and I take my kids to the park, instead of feeling the backs of my knees sweat under pants that hide how much I hate myself. Does anyone have any better recommendations I can share? I’d like to be able to help prevent others from living with self harm scars. All ideas welcome in the comments. Thanks!